Disability Benefit on own record

Disability Benefit on Own Record

Most Americans pay into the Social Secruity system through payroll taxes on their earnings.  Through this, they assure that if they become disabled and can no longer work at a substantial level, they will be able to access benefits for themselves and their dependents.  The amount received by the former work is known as Social Security Disability Insurance or “SSDI.”

Funding Source

Social Security Disability Insurance benefits for disabled workers are paid by the Disability Insurance Trust Fund. Funds are collected through employer and employee contributions, commonly known as “FICA taxes” “payroll taxes” or “Social Security taxes”.  Funds are allocated to this Fund and the Old Age and Survivors Insurance Trust Fund and that allocation is set by law. Over the years, Congress has changed this allocation to account to assure continued solvency of either fund.

In 2012, individuals pay 4.2% of their earnings up to $110,100 and employers pay 6.2% of the individual income up to the same amount.  The 2% differential, known as the “payroll tax holiday”, is set to expire after 2011 and individuals will pay 6.2% again. In 2012, self-employed individuals pay 10.4% of their earnings, down 2% as well.  The “payroll tax holiday” is currently being funded by general revenues.


  • Meet a “recent work” test based on age at the time of disability.
  • Meet a “duration of work” test that does not have to fall within a certain time period (note certain blind workers only need to meet this test and not the “recent work” test)
  • Meet the Social Security definition of disability (inability to do any Substantial Gainful Activity by reason of any physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months)

How Benefit Amount is Calculated

Individuals are determined eligible to receive SSDI benefits based on a “recent work test” and “duration of work” test.  Once they have met these tests, the benefit amount is calculated through a complex formula that uses wages or self-employment income on which payroll taxes were paid.