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Federal Disability Benefits

People with disabilities may qualify for disability benefits from the federal government. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees the following two programs.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI pays monthly benefits to you and certain members of your family if you worked and paid Social Security taxes for long enough to qualify. The benefit amount depends on your work history and earnings. 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI pays monthly benefits to you based on your financial need. Visit the Social Security website to see the maximum monthly payment amounts

The Social Security Handbook includes details about these programs and benefits.

Applying for federal benefits

The Social Security Administration manages the application process for federal disability benefits. 

 How to apply

Tips for applying

After you apply

After you apply for federal disability benefits, a state office called Disability Determination Services (DDS) will decide if you are eligible for benefits. 

If you have a severe disability and need help to pay for housing while you wait for your eligibility determination, the General Assistance Program may provide short-term financial help. 


To apply by phone or for general questions: Call Social Security at 800-772-1213.

For questions about eligibility and how to apply: Contact your local Social Security office

To check the status of your application: Call Disability Determination Services at 800-452-2147.

Laws and regulations

The Social Security Administration is in charge of all regulations about SSI or SSDI benefits. The Social Security Handbook includes regulations for both SSI and SSDI.

Reporting fraud

If you think someone is getting Social Security benefits they are not entitled to, you can report this as fraud to the Social Security Administration. Learn how to submit a report of fraud.

Tools for providers

The Social Security Administration offers a guide called “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security” (known as the Blue Book) to help physicians and other health professionals understand the information they need to provide about a patient who is applying for services.