As this blog has mentioned before, when residents of Central Florida talk about Social Security disability benefits, they are likely referring to one of two federal programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance program, or SSDI, or the Supplemental Security Income program, or SSI.
Whereas SSI is a needs-based program that does not necessarily depend on how much a person has worked, SSDI is, in a manner of speaking, like an early withdrawal from a person's Social Security retirement fund. What this means in practice is that a Floridian's SSDI benefit is tied directly to how much they have earned over their careers.
Moreover, in order to get SSDI, a person has to show a demonstrated work history at jobs in which the person either had Social Security withheld or paid in to the system through self-employment tax. Some of this work history will have to be relatively recent.
Furthermore, as with any disability case, the person seeking SSDI is going to have to show that, due to a recognized illness or medical condition, he or she is no longer able to remain in the work force. It's important to remember that merely being limited in one's opportunities to work, even by a significant medical condition, is usually not enough to claim benefits.
So long as one qualifies, SSDI benefits can be a real lifesaver for a Floridian who has worked hard all of his or her life but suddenly finds it impossible to continue doing so. In addition to replacing a portion of one's own income, SSDI benefits can also mean payments will get made to one's spouse or child under certain circumstances. Qualifying for SSDI can also be a gateway to qualify early for certain government health insurance benefits, including Medicare.