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Disability Benefits After an Organ Transplant

2018 February 12

Andrea Smith, Director of PR/Communications, Donor Alliance

Organ transplants are life changing, but it’s imperative that transplant recipients pace their return to normal activities. A slow return to normal activities can make an immediate return to work challenging, which means making ends meet financially can be a concern for transplant recipients and their families.

Fortunately, there is help available. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers financial resources for people who have had organ transplants and are unable to work.

Qualifying for Disability Benefits

Those who have received an organ transplant automatically qualify for disability benefits for 12 months following their transplant. After 12 months, the SSA will reevaluate the claim. If a recipient is still too ill to work, they can continue to receive disability benefits.

The SSA offers two forms of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Medical qualification is the same for both, but each program has specific technical qualifications.

SSDI is for people who have worked throughout their lives. Recipients who did not work and pay FICA taxes usually will not qualify. Typically, anyone who has worked five of the past 10 years will have earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI.

SSI benefits are available only for the neediest families. There is no work requirement for SSI benefits, but if the recipient has a spouse who is earning a living wage, they will not qualify. Recipients will also not qualify if they have a significant amount of saved cash, stocks, bonds, or a second home or car.

Re-give the Gift of Life by Registering as an Organ and Tissue Donor As the beneficiary of lifesaving gift, remember that anyone—regardless of age and health—can register as a donor. People with chronic conditions such as diabetes and hepatitis can still save and heal lives. Donors well into their 80s have saved lives through organ donation, and individuals over the age of 100 have donated tissue.

This includes transplant recipients themselves who may donate other organs or tissues and re-give that gift of life. Say “yes” to organ, eye and tissue donation at the drivers’ license office and save lives.

February 14 is National Donor Day, and it’s a good time to share your decision to be an organ, eye and tissue donor with your family.

Editor’s note: Allsup provides a free SSDI eligibility screening at, and additional disability resources at

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