Social Security Disability
What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is supplemental income, provided by the government, designed to provide financial aid to Americans suffering from a disability. The program pays monthly benefits to a worker who becomes disabled before they reach retirement age.
Who is eligible for Social Security Disability?
Whether or not you quality for SSDI is based on the amount you have paid in Social Security (FICA) taxes while working. To quality for SSDI, you need to have earned a certain number of work credits. These work credits are awarded each quarter with the maximum amount you can earn in one year being four. The amount of work credits you’ll need to qualify for SSDI depends on your age. Your Disability Help Group advocate can help you determine if you have enough work credits to qualify.
In addition to having enough work credits, you must be medically eligible. To fulfill this requirement, you must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s disability standards. To meet the standards, your condition must fall under three conditions – it must be severe, long-term and able to prevent “substantial gainful activity.”
Severity refers to the fact that your condition must prevent you from doing normal work-related activities. It must disrupt your life in some way.
Long-term refers to the fact that the condition must be expected to last for over a year and goes hand and hand with “total disability.” These two conditions overlap to mean that to qualify, you must be unable to engage in “substantial gainful activity” for over a year. Traditionally, this is related to work income. If you are currently working and make over $1,090 per month, the Social Security Administration will find that you are gainfully employed and you will not quality.
Your Disability Help Group advocate can explain to you whether your condition will likely meet the three criteria outlined above.
How does the disability benefits process work?
The majority of applications for SSDI are denied the first time. This is where your Disability Help Group advocate can be especially helpful.
If your initial request is denied, you can appeal the decision. To do this, you must request a review of the denial within 60 days. You’ll then file a Request for Reconsideration. This is a review of your claim by another examiner.
If this request is also denied, you must request a hearing with a judge who works for the SSA. Again, your Disability Help Group advocate can help you with the entire process.
If you are approved, SSDI cannot start until after you have been disabled for five months. Unfortunately, in reality, most people will not begin getting their benefits for six months to a year. If this happens to you, you’ll get disability back pay.
The entire SSDI process is confusing and time consuming. Don’t try to navigate it yourself – let your Disability Help Group advocate help you!