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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


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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