Kentucky disability

Kentucky Disability Benefits: Learn How to Qualify

Important: We updated this article in July 2023 to make sure all info below is both current and correct. About 1 in 5 Kentucky residents today are aged 50-64. That’s when Kentucky disability benefits are easiest to get from the Social Security Administration! However, less than 8% of people in this state got SSDI or SSI payments in 2022. If health problems force you to stop working at least one year, you may qualify for Kentucky disability, too. Learn how to apply, eligibility rules and average monthly pay amounts for both programs below.

Two Different Programs Offer Kentucky Disability Benefits

Below, we’ll explain two different federal programs that pay monthly Kentucky disability benefits to people who qualify. Both use same the medical tests to ensure your condition truly prevents you from working at least 12 months. The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages payments and screens applicants for these two programs:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Luckily, you can use the same application to file for Kentucky disability benefits through both programs. Just check one box on your claim form, and the SSA screens you for both Kentucky disability payments at once!

Related: Alabama Disability Benefits: What to Know

SSDI: Learn How to Apply, Qualify & Average Kentucky Disability Payment Amounts

SSDI is a federal disability insurance program that workers pay for through their payroll taxes. If you work full-time in jobs that withhold FICA or Social Security taxes, then you’re covered! Congress created this program specifically to help working-age Americans tap into their Social Security money before they’re old enough to retire. The program originally went into effect in January 1956. Since then, it’s helped tens of millions of Americans who became too disabled to keep working make ends meet. Learn all about getting Kentucky disability benefits through the SSDI program below.

1. Who’s Eligible to Apply for SSDI?

If you answer “yes” to every question below, you’re eligible to apply for SSDI benefits today:

  • Have you worked full-time for at least 5 in the last 10 years in jobs that withheld Social Security taxes? If you stop working for 60 months (5 years), your SSDI coverage automatically lapses. That’s because you haven’t kept up the premiums your FICA taxes paid for while working. If your job doesn’t withhold FICA taxes, you also can’t apply for SSDI. This typically affects people in unionized jobs (teachers, UPS workers) or federal employees (elected officials, fire marshals, etc.).
  • Does your doctor expect your health issue to keep you from working at least 12 months? SSDI rules say your disabling condition must last at least one year or result in death to qualify. If your doctor expects you to improve in months or weeks, you won’t meet SSDI’s Kentucky disability requirements.
  • Have you seen a doctor in the last 90 days to treat your condition? Regular doctor visits put you one step closer to getting approved for Kentucky disability benefits. Otherwise, a Disability Determination Services (DDS) exam must confirm your condition stops you from working at least 12 months. A Kentucky disability lawyer can cover your doctor’s visits and medical records if you can’t afford them yourself.
  • Are you currently aged 18-66 and not receiving any Social Security benefits? The SSDI program stops paying Kentucky disability once you turn 67. That’s because SSDI automatically converts into regular Social Security once that birthday passes.

Did you have any “no” answers? Don’t worry, Kentucky disability benefits from the SSI program may still be available to you!

2. How Long Does It Take to Get Your First SSDI Payment?

Six months after your SSDI application date is the soonest you’ll get your first Kentucky disability check. The SSDI program takes about 3-5 months to process each Kentucky disability claim. Federal law requires a five-month waiting period before anyone can get SSDI payments after their claim’s approved. If you wait that long before you apply, you can skip this mandatory wait period. To triple your chances for getting Kentucky disability, have a lawyer file your SSDI claim. All Kentucky disability lawyers work on contingency. That means you won’t pay any legal fees unless the SSA awards you benefits. SSDI claims for Kentucky disability benefits currently take 394 days to process, on average.

Want to see if you can get benefits without a lawyer? Then you’ll wait a lot longer for your first payment. Two out of every five people who apply are denied automatically for paperwork mistakes. If that happens, you have 60 days to appeal in writing.

Your first appeal is called reconsideration. On average, this step takes about 100 days. The SSA approves just 2% of Kentucky disability claimants at this stage. If denied, you can request an appeals hearing to plead your case before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Your odds are slightly better at the hearing, since judges approve 11% of cases. However, you’ll wait at least a year for your court date. It takes about 11 months to get your hearing in Louisville. In Middlesboro, however, you’ll wait just 9 months. If the judge approves your claim, it takes almost 2 years for your first payment!

3. How Much Money Can You Get From SSDI Each Month?

The highest Kentucky disability payment the SSDI program pays anyone is $3,627 per month. But your disability payment depends entirely on how much money you earned while working. For most people, it equals 40% of your average work wages for one month.

On average, disabled workers in every state receive about $1,483 in monthly SSDI for 2023. Some years, you’ll get more money due to an annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase.

4. Can You Get SSDI Benefits for Life?

An approved SSDI claim doesn’t guarantee you Kentucky disability payments for life. Once your checks start, the SSA requires you to pass a disability update every 3-7 years. If you can’t do that, they’ll suspend your payments. You only need to pass these SSDI disability updates regularly until you reach your FRA. After that, Kentucky disability automatically converts into regular Social Security retirement benefits. Your monthly amount stays the same, and you don’t have to fill out any more paperwork.

SSI: Learn How to Apply, Qualify & Average Kentucky Disability Payment Amounts

There’s another federal program that provides Kentucky disability benefits. It’s called SSI. SSI is designed to help only the poorest Americans who are blind, disabled, or aged 65 and older. Any Kentucky disability benefits you get through the SSI program come out of the general tax fund. That means SSI payments don’t impact the Social Security trust fund in any way. However, the SSI program screens applicants a little bit differently than SSDI does. Every SSI applicant must meet certain financial requirements to qualify for payments. Learn more about the SSI program’s eligibility requirements for Kentucky disability below.

1. You Must Be Disabled, Blind, or at Least 65 Years Old to Qualify for SSI

You will automatically pass the SSI medical exam based on age alone if you’re at least 65 years old. But younger claimants must pass a DDS medical exam in order to qualify for Kentucky disability benefits. The DDS doctor needs to confirm you’re either blind or can’t work for at least one year for health reasons. Whether you’re blind, disabled or 65+, you also must pass the program’s income and asset limits.

2. Eligible SSI Claimants Have Very Low Income and Few Resources

The SSI program looks for two things during the financial eligibility screening. First, you can’t earn more than $1,470 each month while working. But even if you’re not working, any money you get from other sources will also count against you. Child support, alimony, earned interest, SNAP, TANF, etc. all count as “monthly income” for SSI. Next, the SSI program looks at your bank balance. SSI asset limit rules say you can’t have more than $2,000 in the bank. However, other things you own and can easily sell for cash also count towards that asset limit. (For example: jewelry, stocks, bonds, lottery tickets, earned interest, living rent-free with a relative, etc.) Some things that won’t count towards that $2,000 include:

  • Your house and the land it sits on, as long as you own it
  • One vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, boat) used for daily transportation
  • Your wedding ring, furniture, clothing & other daily living items (appliances, bedding, towels)

Couples filing SSI claims for Kentucky disability have combined income and asset limits. You need less than $3,000 in assets and $1,470 in combined monthly income to meet the SSI program’s financial requirements.

3. SSI Pays a Monthly Maximum of $914 Per Person or $1,371 Per Couple

If the SSI program approves your claim, you’ll get a monthly raise in certain years. That’s because SSI benefits get an annual COLA increase if the federal government approves it. After you get SSI, they will confirm you still cannot work once every 3-7 years. If the SSI program determines you no longer qualify at any time, they’ll stop sending you payments. But those disability updates only affect SSI claimants who are younger than 65 years old. Any Kentucky disability recipients aged 65 and up only have to worry about meeting the SSI program’s financial requirements. As long as you can do that, you’ll keep your monthly benefits for life.

What About Temporary or Short-Term Kentucky Disability Benefits?

No programs pay short-term or temporary Kentucky disability benefits at this time.

How to Get Free Expert Claim Help at Home

A Kentucky disability lawyer makes you almost 3x more likely to get paid benefits. All Kentucky disability lawyers work on contingency, so you’ll pay nothing for legal assistance up front. A qualified Social Security attorney charges $0 if you don’t win benefits. And if you win, then you’ll only pay one small fee.

Want free expert claim help without leaving your house? Click the button below now to start your free online benefits quiz and see if you may qualify:

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Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity,, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.