Disability is a subject you may read about in the newspaper, but not think of as something that might actually happen to you. But your chances of becoming disabled are probably greater than you realize.

Studies show that just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67.

While we spend a great deal of time working to succeed in our jobs and careers, few of us think about ensuring that we have a safety net to fall back on should we become disabled. This is an area where Social Security can provide valuable help to you.

The disability planner will help you find out:

Disability and Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

We pay disability benefits under two programs:

  • The Social Security disability insurance program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.

  • The SSI program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources.

For most people, the medical requirements for disability payments are the same under both programs and disability is determined by the same process.

Whether you apply for Social Security or SSI disability, we ask you for information about your medical condition, work and education history to help us decide if you are disabled under our rules.

Most of the information in this planner is about Social Security disability benefits. Links to additional information about SSI can be found on "What Is Supplemental Security Income?"

Information for Advocates, Attorneys, and Third Parties

If you are an Advocate, Attorney, or Third Party Representative and you are helping someone prepare an online Social Security benefit application, there are some things you should know.