There are a lot of misconceptions about what Social Security Disability is. In this post, I will be providing a quick overview of the programs available from The Social Security Administration (“SSA”). SSA offers two different programs for the disabled, Supplemental Security Income and Disability Insurance Benefits. While the eligibility for each differs, they both provide recipients with a monthly cash benefit as well as a medical benefit.

To be found eligible, an applicant must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”) for a period of at least twelve consecutive months. SGA is a sort of threshold determination of an individual’s ability to work based on the amount of income they receive. The actual dollar amount of SGA changes most years, but its applicability to disability claims does not. For example, in 2014, SGA is $1070 dollars per month. This is gross earnings, not net earnings and means that if your monthly income is higher than this, you are not eligible for benefits.

Although one must be unable to engage in SGA for a period of at least twelve consecutive months, one doesn’t necessarily have to wait for twelve months before applying. Thus, if you have a severe medical condition or combination of medical conditions that is expected to prevent working at SGA for twelve months, you can apply at any time you meet the other eligibility requirements.