What Is SSD (Social Security Disability)?

Everyone needs a helping hand. That’s especially true for people with disabilities, who may have a much harder time securing stable, substantial, and adequate employment.

Fortunately, relief is available. The federal government facilitates several programs designed to supplement a disabled person’s income.

Among those programs is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD / SSDI), one of the largest single sources of supplemental income for disabled Americans. It is a critical source of support for people who depend on assistance to maintain a safe and sustainable quality of life.

Unfortunately, applying and qualifying for SSD can prove difficult, even for the people who need it the most. A North Carolina social security disability attorney at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ® can help.

This page will explain what SSD is, what it provides, how it differs from SSI (Social Security Insurance), how to qualify, and how an experienced social security lawyer in NC can make all the difference.

Social Security Disability Insurance Explained

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is federal insurance program administered by the Social Security Administration, an agency of the U.S. federal government. It is funded by federal payroll tax revenue.

SSD is designed to supplement the income of people whose physical disabilities limit their ability to secure meaningful employment. Eligibility is not dependent on the recipient’s income, but the benefits are subject to a number of other restrictions (addressed in greater detail below).

Social Security Disability Insurance may also be available for people with certain psychological, psychiatric, or mental health conditions, though there has been an unfortunate reluctance in the federal government to recognize non-physical disabilities for SSDI. If you suffer from a debilitating mental health condition that limits your employability, a North Carolina social security disability attorney may be able to help.

How Is SSD / SSDI Different from SSI?

SSD isn’t the only federal assistance program available to Americans with disabilities. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is another program that entitles eligible recipients to certain economic relief.

The acronyms can get a little confusing here. SSD and SSDI both refer to Social Security Disability Insurance. SSI refers only to Supplemental Security Income.

While SSD/SSDI and SSI are both administered by the federal Social Security Administration, it is important to remember that they are entirely separate programs. You may hear people talk about the two together, and there are certainly some similarities between them, but the programs are not the same. In fact, their eligibility guidelines are quite different.

Eligibility for SSD is tied to work history, among other things (more on this below), and does not take the recipient’s existing income into account.

SSI, on the other hand, is based entirely on financial need. SSI is only available to those who have very little in income and assets, regardless of their work history. Most people who qualify for SSI are also eligible to receive food stamps under the federal SNAP program.

The rest of this article will focus exclusively on SSD / SSDI.

How Much Money Does SSD Provide?

One of the first questions SSD applicants ask is, “how much will my monthly check be?”

Eligible recipients do indeed receive a check each month as an income supplement, but there is no fixed dollar amount.

The amount of each person’s supplement will depend on how long the employee previously worked and how much he or she has paid into the federal Social Security program (via payroll taxes).

The amount of your SSD benefits is NOT dependent on “how disabled you are.”

The application process is very important for determining how much you will receive in monthly benefits. An experienced North Carolina social security disability attorney can help.

What Will SSD Pay For?

In addition to the monthly cash benefit, SSD recipients are often entitled to:


  • Lump-Sum Back Payments — The Social Security Administration takes a very long time to process SSD applications. Recipients shouldn’t have to pay the price for the delay. That’s why the agency allows back payments, which may provide a substantial one-time payment, issued as a “lump sum.” A North Carolina social security disability attorney at Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ® can help you determine whether you’re entitled to back payments (and if so, how much).
  • Medical Benefits (Medicare)
  • Family Benefits — Spouses, minor children, and/or disabled children may be able to receive certain “auxiliary” SSD benefits as dependants. In some cases, ex-spouses and/or grandchildren may also be eligible.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD / SSDI)

To qualify for benefits from the Social Security Disability program, you must meet all the following criteria:

  •  You have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” (often abbreviated as “SGA”),
  • Such condition is expected to last at least 12 months (or to result in death),
  • You are under the age of 65, and
  • You have accumulated a total of 20 social security credits during the ten years prior to the onset of disability. (If you are older than 42, you will need one additional credit for each year over the age of 42.)

These requirements are not necessarily as straightforward as they seem. Confusion arises over what constitutes a “condition,” for example, or how to define “substantial gainful activity.” Providing sufficient medical evidence of a condition can also prove challenging.

Some exceptions do apply. For example, people whose disability arises prior to the age of 22 may be allowed to use their parents’ work credits to qualify (the parents’ own benefits will not be affected in that case.)

Never assume that you do or do not qualify for SSD benefits without first consulting an experienced social security lawyer in NC.

How We Can Help

At the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ®, we have years of experience in helping people secure the federal benefits they need and deserve. It’s important to understand that your approach to the SSD process can have a critical impact on the outcome of your application.

Unfortunately, the application isn’t easy. People who should qualify for SSD benefits are often delayed or denied — or end up receiving less than they should — because they make critical errors in the application process.

A North Carolina social security disability attorney can help you demonstrate the sufficiency of your disability and your work history such that the agency recognizes the full value of your claim, and as expediently as possible.

In the event that your application is denied (alarmingly common, especially among those who apply without a lawyer’s help), your attorney can help you file an appeal and effectively navigate the judicial process that follows.

Free Consultation with a North Carolina Social Security Disability Attorney


If you suffer from disability and have been denied SSD benefits, please contact the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo, L.L.P. ® to schedule a free initial consultation.

Our services are available to people with disabilities all throughout North Carolina, including Charlotte, Hickory, Monroe, Lumberton, and beyond