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Benefits and Insurance for People with Disabilities

Find information about health care coverage including Medicare and Medicaid. Also, learn about workplace disability insurance, compensation benefits for disabled veterans and Social Security benefits for people with disabilities.

Short-Term and Long-Term Disability Insurance

If you can't work because you are sick or injured, disability insurance will pay part of your income. You may be able to get insurance through your employer. You can also buy your own policy.

Types of Disability Policies

There are two types of disability policies.

  • Short-term policies may pay for up to two years. Most last for a few months to a year.

  • Long-term policies may pay benefits for a few years or until the disability ends.

Employers who offer coverage may provide short-term coverage, long-term coverage, or both.

If you plan to buy your own policy, shop around and ask:

  • When do benefits begin?

  • How long do benefits last?

  • How much money will the policy pay?

Federal Disability Programs

Two Social Security Administration programs pay benefits to people with disabilities. Learn about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI).

Social Security Benefits for People with Disabilities

If you have a disability, Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income may help financially. To find out if you’re eligible for either program, use the Benefit Eligibility Screening Tool.

Definition of Disability

To qualify for either program, you must meet SSA’s definition of disability

  1. You’re unable to do substantial gainful activity (work)

  2. Your disability is expected to last for at least one year or result in death

  3. Your impairment is on Social Security’s list of disabling medical conditions

Social Security uses a step-by-step process to decide if you have a disability.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is for people who have become disabled after earning enough Social Security work credits within a certain time. 

Your spouse or former spouse and your children may be eligible for benefits when you start getting SSDI.

How to Apply for SSDI

You can apply for SSDI benefits online, by phone, or in person.  

  • If your application is approved, you’ll have a five-month waiting period for benefits to start. 

  • If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is for people with disabilities or who are 65 or older with little to no income and resources. SSI is not Social Security. Although the names sound similar and the Social Security Administration runs the program, it does not fund SSI. 

How to Apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Adults can apply for SSI by phone, in person at a local Social Security office, or in some cases online. To apply for SSI for a child, you can start the process online but will need to complete it either in person or by phone.

  • You can appeal If your application is denied.

  • Explore a listing of SSI topics to learn more detailed information.

Working While Receiving SSDI or SSI

Whether you receive SSDI or SSI, you may be able to work without it impacting your benefits if you earn less than a certain amount. You can find all the details in the booklet Working While Disabled: How We Can Help.

Health Insurance and Health Resources for People with Disabilities

Find information about health insurance and resources for people with disabilities.

Health Coverage for People With Disabilities

If you have a disability, you have three options for health coverage through the government. 

Health Resources for People With Disabilities

Federal, state, and local government agencies and programs can help with your health needs if you have a disability. 

Visit USA.gov’s Government Benefits page to learn more about government programs and services that can help you and your family.

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Last Updated: October 28, 2021

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