Basics of Disability Benefits

Basics of Disability Benefits

disability benefit programIf you’ve recently experienced an injury or illness that is preventing you from being able to perform your job, then you may be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The following is a basic guide to help you understand what the SSDI program is, whether you are eligible, and how to apply for disability benefits.

What are Social Security Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Disability Insurance program was established as a way to provide financial assistance to workers with injuries or illnesses that prevented them from being able to work and were therefore unable to earn income. This means that if you have an injury or illness, then it must prevent you from being able to perform your normal work duties for at least a year.

If your limitations have the expectation of healing or recovering within a year and go back to work, you will not qualify. Additionally, you must not have the ability to perform other types of work as well. If your disability lasts more than a year, but you recover after that year ends, your disability benefits will discontinue.

Who is Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

You will have to meet a number of eligibility requirements in order to qualify for disability benefits. These requirements include the following:

  • You must have enough work credits – You earn one credit for every $1,320 that you make as of 2018, but you can only earn four credits a year. The credits represent the tax that you have paid out of your paycheck towards Social Security. You’ll need to have a certain amount of work credits available to qualify for SSDI based on the age your disability occured.
  • You must have a condition identified as disabling – The Social Security Agency (SSA) has a Blue Book in which all of the conditions that they consider disabling are listed. These include not just specific injuries and illnesses, but also mental illnesses. Under each condition you’ll find a list of symptoms that cause the condition to fall under disabling conditions.

What Other Conditions May Apply

Even if your condition doesn’t match with any of the conditions listed, you may still be eligible if your symptoms match the symptoms that are listed or have a similar effect. Additionally, if you suffer from two conditions at the same time, the SSA will consider the combined effect it has on your ability work — even if individually, these conditions would render you ineligible.

  • You must be younger than the full retirement age – Once you reach your full retirement age (which depends on the year you were born), you will not be able to collect SSDI since you will be collecting retirement benefits instead. You will not lose money as a result.
  • The condition must prevent you from being able to work – A severe injury could prevent you from being able to work for months, such as a fractured leg. However, in order to qualify for disability benefits, the condition must render you disabled for at least a year. You must also not be able to do any other type of work instead. For example, you may have a condition that prevents you from doing physical labor, but it may not be severe enough to keep you from doing a sedentary job, in which case you will not qualify.
  • You must be an American citizen or a legal resident – As long as you have the proper amount of work credits, you will be eligible for disability benefits. However, if you move out of the country, then those benefits will only last for six months. Unfortunately, there are some countries in which you will not be able to collect benefits at all.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

The following is the information that you are going to have to provide in order to apply for SSDI benefits:

  • Proof of birth.
  • Your social security number.
  • Proof of US citizenship or lawful alien status.
  • Copies of your W-2 forms and/or federal tax returns for the last year.
  • Evidence of your disability, such as hospital records, prescriptions, doctor’s reports, test results and the like.
  • Statement by medical professional diagnosing your disability as severe enough to be unable to work for a year.
  • Proof of temporary or permanent workers’ compensation-type benefits you may have received.

The following are the ways that you can apply for SSDI benefits:

  • You can visit your local SSA office and apply for disability benefits in person. Just make sure that you bring all the proper documentation. You can find out where your nearest local SSA office is by checking online.
  • You can call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 to apply over the phone. If you are hard of hearing, you can call 1-800-325-0078, which is their TTY number. Both numbers are toll-free.
  • You can apply online. Doing so is relatively simple. All you’ll need to do is fill out the application and answer a list of disability questions. However, you will have to mail out your supporting documentation or bring it to your local SSA office.

The application process generally takes between 30 and 90 days. If your application gets rejected, don’t worry too much. The majority of first time applications receive rejection notices the first time around for all types of reasons. To include whether or not  you didn’t provide enough information. Or, you didn’t provide enough documentation to support your disability position. You can request a review of the decision within 60 days of your rejection. If it’s still rejected, you can appeal the decision in front of an administrative law judge.

Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits

Your first payment won’t arrive until five months after you experienced the disability. When you receive your first payment, you will also receive back pay for the months that you’ve had the disability. A few things to keep in mind when collecting disability benefits:

  • If you work more than 20 hours a week and/or earn more than $1,180, your benefits will terminate.
  • If you go to jail for more than a month, your benefits will terminate.
  • You will collect payments for two months after your termination notice.
  • If you move out of the country for more than six months, your benefits will terminate.
  • If you recover from your disability, your benefits will terminate.
  • Moving out of state will not affect your benefits.

Working With Social Security Disability Advocates USA

As you can see, the process of gathering everything you need in order to qualify for SSDI disability benefits can be quite overwhelming. Not only can we help provide advice and information about SSDI in general, we can also assist you in applying for benefits to give you the best possible chance of approval. We can also help you every step of the way if you need to appeal a denial.

These are some of the basic things that you should know about Social Security disability benefits. If you have any questions about SSDI, whether it’s about your eligibility, how to appeal or more, then be sure to contact us at Social Security Disability Advocates USA. Give us a call at (602) 952-3200. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation.

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