BenefitU logo - color.

What are Title II Benefits?

Title II Benefits are cash benefits for people who are fully “insured” under Social Security. A person is insured once they have worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes.

Title II cash benefits on a worker’s record may also be available to a child whose parent has died; adults between the ages 18 and 65 who have disability; people who reach retirement age; and spouses of people who receive Title II.

Social Security manages the Title II program. People who receive Title II often refer to their benefits as “Social Security,” though each type of Title II benefit has differences.

It is possible for a person to receive Title II benefits even if they have not worked. For example, a child whose parent has died may collect Title II cash benefit based off their parent’s work record. The same rule applies to an adult with a disability.

How do I become insured?

When you work and pay taxes, you can earn “credits,” also called “Quarters of Coverage.” You can earn a maximum of four credits per year.  You need to earn a certain total number of credits to be considered fully insured.

Your age, work history, if you have a disability, and other factors affect how many credits you need to become fully insured. We recommend you talk to Social Security or create a MySSA account for more information about your insured status.

What Title II benefits are
available to people with disabilities?

Title II benefits include three different disability-related benefits. Each is based on a worker being insured under Social Security. The person receiving the benefit must be disabled under Social Security’s rules.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a cash benefit for people who have a disability and who are insured under Social Security, based on their own work history. (In some cases, the spouse of an SSDI beneficiary may also qualify for benefits.)

Social Security Disabled Widow’s/Widower’s Beneficiary (SSDWB)

Social Security Disabled Widow’s/Widower’s Beneficiary (SSDWB) is a cash benefit awarded due to the death of a spouse or former spouse. This benefit is only available for individuals between ages 50 and 60 who have a disability.

Social Security Child Disability Beneficiary (SSCDB)

Social Security Child Disability Beneficiary (SSCDB), also called Social Security Disabled Adult Child (DAC) is a cash benefit for people who:

“Child Disability Beneficiary” is a misleading term. It does not mean that the person is the age of a child. Rather, it means they are an adult who became disabled at a young age, and they are the child of a parent who qualifies for Social Security benefits.

What are Social Security’s disability rules?

To be considered disabled by Social Security, you must have a physical or mental disability which:

– AND –

A blind woman using her cell phone.

How much will my Title II Benefit be?

The amount can vary between a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. The amount you receive depends on the worker’s employment history.

If you are eligible for SSCDB, the cash benefit amount you receive depends on if your parent is disabled, retired, or has died.

Can I receive more than one Title II benefit?

Yes! You may receive Title II based on your own record as well as another person’s record at the same time. For example, you could receive SSDI based on your own work record while also collecting SSCDB because a parent is disabled or has retired or died.

In these situations, you will not receive the full amount of both benefits. Rather, you will receive a combination of benefit amounts which equal the largest Title II cash benefit you are eligible for.

Lastly, Social Security limits how much they will pay a family when several members collect a benefit from one family member’s work record. This is called the ‘Family Maximum Benefit.’ More information on this can be found on the Social Security website.

Example

Jolene is eligible for $1,200 SSDI and $1,500 CDB. The most Jolene can receive is $1,500, because that is the larger Title II benefit.

Here is how Social Security will divide the benefit checks:

Altogether, Jolene is awarded $1,200 SSDI and $300 SSCDB.

How does income affect my Title II Benefits?

How Social Security looks at your income depends on if it is unearned or earned.

Unearned income will not affect your Title II benefit check. If you receive a cash gift, it will not impact your cash benefit amount or eligibility.

Earned income is used as a measurement of your ability to work at a certain level, called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).  If you demonstrate that you can work at the SGA level, you may not receive a Title II cash benefit. 

As a Title II beneficiary, it is important to understand the concept of Substantial Gainful Activity and how your earned income might affect your benefits. For more information, visit How does Work affect my Title II Benefit?

A woman meeting with a professional

What are the resource limits?

Title II does not have a resource limit. This means you can save money and not risk losing your Title II cash benefit!

However, before you start saving a lot of money in your bank account, we recommend you meet with a benefits planner. You may receive other benefits, like Medicaid, which may have a resource limit. A benefits planner can look at your benefits to help you understand if you have a resource limit, and what your options are to save money.

Do I get medical coverage with Title II?

Yes. After being eligible for Title II Benefits for two years, you qualify for Medicare

Medicare is our nation’s health insurance. It can pay for hospital costs, medical care, prescription drugs, and medical devices. You can learn about Medicare here

In addition to Medicare, many Title II beneficiaries also receive Medicaid. Medicaid is not directly linked to Title II benefits. However, you may qualify for Medicaid through a different program. Visit this page for more information about Medicaid.

How do I apply for Title II Benefits?

You can start the application process here.

Social Security will ask you for a lot of information related to your disability and your work. Having all your information organized and ready is a good first step when applying. 

To prepare for the application, visit Social Security’s “Disability Starter Kit.

Learn all about Title II with our video training series: A Look at Title II.

Updated for 2024 Social Security Title II — SSDI, SSCDB, SSDWB and Related Work Incentives

The fear of loss of benefits can cause many people to abandon or unnecessarily limit their dreams for employment. They remain tethered to benefits and therefore do not achieve the financial success they could, if they had clear and accurate information about their benefits and the related work incentives, to make informed choices about employment.

This webinar explains who qualifies for these benefits, how earnings impact the benefits, and how key work incentives can assist people to achieve employment without fear of losing essential benefits.

Scroll to Top