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How Does Social Security Define “Disability?”

The statistics are a little muddy and much depends on age, but the probability is that about one in four workers will become disabled at some point before they retire. The good news is that Social Security can be an important source of income during the period of disability. Social Security administers two separate disability programs – Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which is a means-tested program for disabled low income people of any age, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) which is a benefit program for those who become disabled and unable to work before reaching their full retirement age. But Social Security’s definition of “disabled” is a bit different for each of these programs. For information on how these programs work and what qualifies as a disability, read this Oliver Povey article appearing at

Also, if you’re unsure about how these basics apply to you, or if you have any questions about your individual situation under Social Security, note that the AMAC Foundation provides a free-to-the-public advisory service to help Americans navigate the complexities of this program. Learn more about it here…

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