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Federal Disability Benefits

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs that pay monthly disability benefits to millions of Americans: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), also known as Title II; and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Title XVI. Eligibility for SSDI requires a work history, while the SSI program pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. SSI benefits also are payable to people 65 and older without disabilities who meet the financial limits. Retirees who meet certain qualifications may also be entitled to Social Security retirement benefits, as may be their survivors or dependents.

The standard of disability for both SSDI and SSI is the same, as are many of the rules and regulations for applying for benefits and appealing denials. The rules are very detailed and can be quite complex and often confusing to both claimants and representatives.

This section of our website focuses on SSA’s rules and regulations for determining disability. It is designed primarily for advocates funded by New York State’s Disability Advocacy Program (DAP) to represent claimants who have been denied benefits. It is divided into various subsections, which are listed in the menu on the left.

This website is not intended to provide legal advice for individual claims. If you are an applicant or beneficiary, you might find information helpful to your case. There are other websites, however, that provide more basic information on eligibility and the appeals process, such as SSA’s website at


Session Wrap 2017: New Legislation to Enforce Medical Records Access Rules
A.7842 (Gottfried)/S.6078 (Valesky) will ensure free access to medical records for those applying for Social security and Medicaid benefits, as well as some veteran’s benefits. Read More

SSA FY 2016 "Waterfall" Chart Released
As part of its budget justification document, the Social Security Administration (SSA) published its Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Workload Data Disability Appeals. Read More


Bill ensures free access to personal health records
A new law signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo last week aims to streamline the application process for Social Security, veteran’s benefits, disability benefits and more. Read More

Joint Press Statement: Governor Signs Law Ensuring Access to Health Records for Those in Need
In a huge win for disabled New Yorkers, a bill (A7842/S6078) that will streamline the process for thousands of New Yorkers needing to obtain their own health records has been signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo. Read More


Empire Justice Testimony on the New York State Supplement Program
Empire Justice Center testimony on the impact that State takeover has had on the administration of the State Supplement Program and delivery of benefits to eligible recipients. Read More

Joint Memos of Support: Clarify and Simplify the Law Guiding Access to Medical Records
Nine advocacy groups from around the state come together in support of legislation that will simplify access to medical records. Read More



Policy Matters July 2017: Session Wrap
Empire Justice Center's latest edition of Policy Matters. Read More



Know Your Rights: A Guide to Fighting Discrimination Against Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming New Yorkers Under the New York State Human Rights Law
Transgender and gender-nonconforming people in New York State are now clearly protected by our Human Rights Law (HRL), thanks to new regulations issued earlier this year. Our NEW GUIDE explains what gender identity-based discrimination might look like, and how to exercise your rights under the HRL. Read More


SSI Extension for Refugee
2008 Extension of Time Period for SSI Eligibility of Humanitarian-based Immigrants Read More





This training will provide case managers with basic information about Social Security's disability benefit program. Read More

The Hip Bone is Connected to the Back Bone: Understanding Musculoskeletal Impairments and "Dem Bones"
A medical practitioner familiar with Social Security Administration's (SSA) listings discusses the musculoskeletal impairments listing. An experienced Social Security attorney will facilitate the presentation so that participants will better understand the type of medical evidence they will be reviewing and should be developing in cases of musculoskeletal impairments. A hypothetical case scenario of a young adult (18-25 years old) with musculoskeletal and mental impairments who has been denied SSI will be used to demonstrate strategies for arguing that a claim meets or equals the listing. Read More