Experts believe that there’s a 30% chance for Americans in their 20s to have a condition that disables them from working for up to three months prior to hitting the retirement age. The social security disability insurance (SSDI) is a government program that protects workers who have lost the ability to work before the age of retirement. Certain requirements need to be fulfilled in order to avail it, which include having a considerable quota of work credits.
Benefits of Social Security Disability Insurance
Depending upon the record of your earnings, social security benefits can be divided into four categories:
- Retirement Benefits: Workers who have been employed for at least ten years at a non-governmental job are eligible for retirement benefits after they retire at the age of 62. If you wait to receive these incentives until you reach your full retirement age, which is between 65 and 67, the number of benefits will be higher.
- Disability Benefits: If you’ve met the work requirements and are considered disabled under the medical guidelines of social security, you will receive benefits that are almost equal to your full retirement benefits. This is applicable even if you haven’t reached the retirement age.
- Dependents Benefits: Based on your spouse’s earning record, you will be entitled to retirement or disability benefits. These benefits can be availed by yourself and your minor or disabled children.
- Survivors Benefits: Surviving spouses of workers who qualified for disability or retirement benefits are granted these benefits along with their minor or disabled children.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
As social security disability insurance is based on the FICA (Federal Insurance Contributions Act) pay throughout the course of your career, it completely disregards the amount of money you possess. The state-run Disability Determination Services (DDS) uses the ‘Blue Book‘ as the listing manual containing the names of all the impairments for when the Social Security Administration (SSA) should determine a condition to be disabling or not.
The Blue Book is divided into two parts. While Part A is about adult disability assessments, Part B is dedicated to childhood disability assessments. The medical conditions that qualify adults for SSDI are:
- Musculoskeletal problems like back conditions and other dysfunctions related to the joints and bones
- Problems related to senses and speech like vision and hearing loss
- Respiratory problems like asthma and cystic fibrosis
- Cardiovascular issues such as chronic heart failure or coronary artery disease
- Immune system disorders such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney disease
- Digestive tract problems like liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Blood disorders like sickle cell disease or hemophilia
- Neurological issues including multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy
- Mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or intellectual disability
- Skin conditions like cellulitis and hidradenitis suppurativa
- Malignant neoplastic diseases, which include various forms of cancer such as breast cancer and prostate cancer
Eligibility Criteria for Social Security Disability Insurance
The eligibility criteria for one to acquire social security disability insurance are as follows:
- You need to earn a sufficient number of work credits. The number of work credits you require depends on your age and how you became disabled. The general rule states that you should have earned at least 20 credits in the ten years prior to becoming disabled and if the total credits you’ve earned comes up to 40 or more.
- If your age is 24 or under at the time of disability, the criteria are earning at least six work credits during a three-year period before the disability takes place. If you’re aged between 24 and 31, your work credits should be equivalent to half the time between the age of 21 and the time you develop your disability.
- If you’re found engaged in the substantial gainful activity (SGA), you won’t be eligible for SSDI. This implies that if the SSA finds you earning a decent, regular paycheck, it means you’re not disabled enough to not work, and hence ineligible for SSDI.
- You should meet the definition of being ‘disabled.’ This connotes that regardless of the cause of your impairment, you should be disabled enough to not be able to work.
- Not only should your disability render you unable to do your current job, but it should also prevent you from taking up another job.
Differences between SSDI and SSI:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a need-based program where financial help is given to kids and adults who are disabled, blind or have limited income. Whereas SSDI is available to anyone who has paid their dues to the Social Security system for at least a decade, regardless of his assets or income, SSI has very strict rules when it comes to financial needs and requirements.
Those who receive SSI are immediately eligible for Medicaid benefits. SSDI beneficiaries, on the other hand, are deemed fit for Medicare two years after they start receiving SSDI benefits.
While SSDI requires you to have a certain number of work credits, SSI is provided to low-income individuals, without taking work credits into account. The monetary benefits of SSI are fewer compared to SSDI since the latter is based on the individual’s earning record.
How to Apply for SSDI?
When applying for SSDI, several things should be arranged to make the application process easier. The information and the documents required comprise two parts that make up your application.
The first part requires information such as:
1) Information about you:
- Your date and place of birth, and your social security number
- The name, social security number, and age of your current and former spouse (if any)
- Names and DOBs of your minor children
- Your account number and the routing transit number of your bank
2) Information about your medication condition:
- The name, address, and contact number of someone the authorities can get in touch with regarding your application and medical condition
- The contact details of all your current and previous doctors, hospitals, and clinics
- Names of medicines you’re taking and who prescribed them
- Details of medical tests you’ve had and who asked you to get them
3) Information about your work:
- Your earnings for the previous and current year
- Name and address of your current and last year’s employer(s)
- A copy of your social security statement
- The beginning and ending dates of any active U.S. military service you were in before 1968
- A list and dates of the jobs (up to five) you’ve had in the last 15 years before your disability
- Details about your workers’ compensation, black lung, and/or similar benefits you’ve filed or intend to file for
The second part lists the documents you need to provide to prove your eligibility. These include:
- Your birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, or lawful alien status in case you were born outside the United States
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) in case you had military service prior to 1968
- W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns for last year (as applicable)
- Medical records, doctors’ reports, and recent test results
- Award letters, pay stubs, settlement agreements, or other proof relating to any temporary or permanent workers’ compensation-like benefits you have received
Ways to Win a Social Security Disability Case
When you look up “social security disability lawyers near me” on the internet, you’re bound to find at least a few names of local attorneys. However, hiring a disability attorney is only the first step towards acquiring your social security disability insurance. Several factors need to be kept in mind to make sure your application gets approved.
Here are some of the mistakes to avoid to save your application from getting rejected:
- Your application form is incomplete
- The details provided in your application are incorrect or clash with the facts
- You didn’t attempt to treat your condition properly or didn’t follow your doctor’s instructions
- You applied for the benefits before proving that your disability is permanent or long-lasting
- The medical evidence provided by you isn’t sufficient enough to prove that your disability will prevent you from working
- If you’re still working, your application can get rejected on the terms that your condition is perhaps not severe enough
If you’re in a situation where your disability is affecting your capacity to work either temporarily or for life, social security disability insurance is a great way to secure your future financially. The application process isn’t too tedious, and as long as you have all your documents in place, claiming the benefits should not be an issue. See to it that the disability lawyer you hire is experienced enough, and availing the benefits will hopefully be a smooth process.