TN 1 (10-12)
DI 00115.001 Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Disability Programs
A. Overview of SSA’s disability programs
SSA manages two programs that provide benefits based on disability or blindness, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability program. Title II of the Social Security Act (Act) authorizes SSDI benefits, and title XVI of the Act authorizes SSI disability benefit payments.
The SSDI program provides benefits to insured disabled or blind adults covered by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust funds. We base these contributions on a person’s earnings under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Certain family members may also be eligible for benefits from the person’s earnings record.
The SSI disability program makes monthly payments to aged (65 or older), disabled, or blind adults and children who have limited income and resources. The payments for SSI benefits come from the general fund of the United States Treasury. Many States also pay a supplemental benefit to persons in addition to their Federal benefits.
NOTE: Unlike other programs, Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
B. SSA responsibilities in the disability programs
SSA is responsible for developing the policies and procedures for disability claims under the SSDI and SSI disability programs. SSA implements the disability policies and procedures through instructions issued to field offices (FO), the Disability Determination Services (DDS), and processing centers (PC). SSA’s Program Operations Manual System (POMS) Part 4, Disability Insurance (DI), contains the instructions for processing disability claims. Additional instructions for processing SSI disability claims are in POMS Part 5, Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
C. Disability application process
The disability process begins when a person files an application for disability benefits with Social Security. A person may file an application in person, by telephone, by mail, or on the internet at www.socialsecurity.gov . The FO determines if the applicant meets the non-disability criteria for benefits, i.e., age, work credits, performance of substantial gainful activity (SGA), and relationship to the insured worker. If the applicant meets these requirements, the FO forwards the application with any medical information provided by the applicant to the DDS in the State that has jurisdiction for the disability determination. See information on the DDS and SSA jurisdictions for initial and subsequent cases in DI 20101.001. The DDS determines whether a person is disabled under the Act.
D. State participation in the disability determination process
State agencies (the DDSs) make disability and blindness determinations for SSA. The DDSs are responsible for developing medical evidence and making the initial disability determination on whether or not a claimant is disabled or blind under the Social Security Act. There are 54 DDSs located in the 50 States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands.