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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays disability benefits to you and certain family members who meet the definition of disability if you worked long enough – and recently enough – under Social Security.

The Social Security Act defines disability as a person who cannot work due to a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. Or the person’s medical condition must prevent him or her from doing substantial gainful employment – work that he or she did in the past, and it must prevent the person from adjusting to other work.

Active-Duty Service Members and SSDI

Active-duty service members can receive SSDI depending on how much the individual is actively working and their income earned. Social Security does a ‘work test’ with individuals to determine if a person is working more than 40 hours per week. If an individual is working more than 40 hours per week, Social Security is unable to consider them for disability assistance.

If a service member is actively working and earning over a substantial level, then he or she is not considered disabled and unable to purse an SSDI application.

5 Step Disability Determination Process

Social Security uses a five-step disability determination process that includes:

  1. Are you working?
  2. Is your medical condition “severe?”
  3. Does your impairment(s) meet or medically equal a listing?
  4. Can you do the work you did before?
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

Social Security recommends individuals apply for disability benefits as soon as he or she becomes disabled. Processing an application for disability benefits can take up to five months. The sooner individuals submit their application and information, the faster he or she can start receiving the assistance they need.

To apply for disability benefits, go to here.

To learn more about SSDI, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and benefit options, go to ‘Social Security and Disability 101.’