Common Questions About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Common Questions About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Contact us for help with your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be incredibly helpful for those who have experienced serious disabilities that prevent them from being able to earn income to maintain a decent standard of living. However, SSDI can seem a bit complicated and overwhelming to those who don’t know too much about it. If you’ve just begun looking into SSDI after experiencing a disabling condition, you may also have the following questions:

What commonly qualifies as a disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a condition to be a disability if the condition has prevented you or will prevent you from being able to work for at least 12 months. It must also be determined that because of your condition, you are unable to adjust to any other types of work. The SSA has a Blue Book that lists the conditions that they consider disabling as well as the associated symptoms.

Does the SSA consider mental illness a disability?

Mental illness can be considered a disability, but it must be severe enough to affect your ability to work. Hundreds of thousands of Americans collect SSDI benefits because of their mental illness. You can find a list of mental illnesses and the symptoms considered disabling in the SSA’s Blue Book.

What about drug addiction or alcoholism?

The SSA cannot legally provide benefits to someone if his or her drug/alcohol use is material to the cause of the disability. However, individuals affected by drug addiction or alcoholism that experience a disability that’s unrelated can still qualify if the use is not material. Stated differently, if the person’s disability would still exist even if the drug or alcohol use stopped, then benefits may be awarded.

Can children receive benefits?

Disabled children under the age of 18 might qualify for SSI benefits provided that you don’t exceed the income and asset limits.

What is required to qualify for SSDI?

There are several requirements that you must meet for eligibility for SSDI benefits. These include the following:

  • Medical eligibility – The SSA must identify your condition as a disability. Their Blue Book lists all the conditions that they consider disabling. However, if your condition isn’t listed, you may still qualify if you suffer from similar symptoms. Additionally, they will consider the combined effect of two lesser disabilities that may not have been eligible individually.
  • The ability to work – You must provide proof that you missed at least a year of work or provide a professional medical opinion that you will not be able to work for at least 12 months due to your disability.
  • Work credits – You need to have earned a certain number of work credits based on your age to qualify. These work credits are earned by paying Social Security taxes out of your income. For example, if you are 50 years old, then you will need at least 28 work credits to qualify or to have worked for at least seven years, five of which must have come within the past decade.

How can you apply for SSDI?

There are several ways that you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. You can go to your local SSA office and apply in person (you can find your nearest SSA office on the SSA website) or you can apply over the phone by calling their toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 (if you are hard of hearing, you can call their TTY number, which is 1-800-325-0078.

You can also apply online. This tends to be easier since you can fill out the application at your own time (representatives are available during limited hours at the physical offices and over the phone). When applying online, you’ll simply have to fill out a Disability Benefit Application, answer the disability questions and then either mail your supporting documents to the SSA or bring them to your local SSA office in person.

What do you need to apply for SSDI?

In addition to filling out an application, you will need to provide documentation that proves your eligibility. This includes hospital records, test results, medical records, prescription records and more that prove your diagnosis and the treatment that you’ve undergone. You’ll want your doctor to provide a professional opinion regarding your disability as well.

Additionally, you will need to provide personal information that includes your name, social security number, proof of age, address, a summary of where you worked and what you did, a recent W-2 form or a copy of your federal tax return, and the personal information of any doctors, caseworkers, clinics and/or hospitals that took care of you.

How long is the application process?

It takes between 30 and 90 days for your application to be reviewed; however, it can sometimes take longer due to a backlog of applications. You can always contact the SSA to find out what the status of your application is.

How long will it take to receive benefits?

Once you’ve been approved, you won’t begin receiving your benefits until five months after the date that you were disabled. This means that if you’ve been disabled for five months at the time of approval, you could begin receiving benefits right away. You will also be provided back pay for the months that you were disabled.

Can you get SSDI and SSI at the same time?

Generally speaking, you can only get SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time if you were already approved for SSDI and your benefits are relatively low, which can occur if you had little work history or you earned lower wages when you were employed. This is because SSI is a financial need-based program, which means there’s an income and asset limit. If your SSDI benefits cause you to exceed this limit, then you won’t be eligible for SSI.

Can you get worker’s compensation and SSDI at the same time?

Yes, you can collect both worker’s compensation and SSDI benefits at the same time; however, the amount of your worker’s compensation can end up affecting the amount you receive for SSDI. In some states, workers’ compensation may be reduced based on whether you’ve been approved for SSDI.

How much are SSDI benefits?

The amount of your SSDI benefits will be based on how much you earned previously as well as on your household’s financial situation. The national average as of 2015 was $1,165. The maximum amount that you can be paid via your SSDI benefits is $2,663. The amount of money you made when employed won’t affect your ability to collect payments.

Can you still work if you get Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is based on helping people who can no longer work due to a disability, which means that if you start working again, it could show the SSA that you are no longer disabled. However, you can do some work, but there are limits to how much you can work and how much you can earn to continue receiving SSDI benefits. You can’t work more than 20 hours a week and you can’t earn more than $1,220 a month while collecting benefits — although there are no limits on unearned income.

Why could your application be denied?

The SSA will reject your application for SSDI benefits for the following reasons:

  • Missing medical documents needed to prove your condition or symptoms.
  • Your medical documents aren’t enough to establish that you have a disabling condition.
  • Incorrectly filled out application because of missing information, incorrect information or even simple spelling errors.
  • You are working more than 20 hours a week and making more than the income limit.
  • Not seeking regular medical treatment with a doctor or other medical expert.
  • Ignoring the medical advice of a doctor or other medical expert.
  • Curable condition, specifically within a year.
  • Not enough work history to be eligible.

What do you do if your application is denied?

Don’t worry — a large majority of applications are denied initially. Most applications aren’t approved until they have been appealed.

In fact, the rejection rate of initial applications is estimated to be around 70 percent, which means you won’t be in the minority if your initial application is indeed rejected.

You can request a review of your case within 60 days of the date you receive the denial letter. If your review is denied, then you can appeal the decision by requesting a hearing with an administrative law judge.

Can you lose your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?

The SSA can terminate your benefits for several reasons; for example, if they decide that your condition has improved, and you could no longer receive benefits.

If this is the case, they will send out a notification of your termination. You will still receive benefits for two months following the notification. However, you can appeal the termination. If you do so within ten days of the notification, you can continue to receive benefits throughout the appeal process.

Will you lose benefits if you move to a different state?

Moving to another state will not affect your SSDI benefits; however, you will need to contact your local Social Security office and provide them with your new address. This ensures that you will continue to receive your disability checks (if you’re not doing a direct deposit) as well as any information from the SSA at your new home.

Will you lose benefits if you move outside the U.S.?

If you are receiving SSI, then you will lose your benefits if you’ve been outside the country for more than 30 days. If you are receiving SSDI, then you can continue to collect your benefits for six months after you’ve moved if you have moved into a non-prohibited country.

What about non-prohibited countries?

Countries where you cannot receive payments from the SSA include Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Vietnam.

Will you lose benefits if you go to jail?

Because you can’t work anyway due to your incarceration, you will no longer qualify for SSDI benefits. However, you will continue to receive benefits if you aren’t in jail for more than a month. If you’ve been in jail for over a month, your benefits will be terminated.

We can answer the most common questions asked about SSDI. For assistance applying for SSDI, appealing an application denial, or for any other information and advice, be sure to give us a call at 602-952-3200
to schedule a free consultation with Social Security Disability Advocates USA. You can also get in touch with us by using our online LiveChat feature.

This is attorney advertising. SSDA, LLC is a group of attorneys that pursues claims for Social Security Disability benefits on behalf of its clients against the Social Security Administration. SSDA, LLC is in no way a part of the Social Security Administration. Further, the information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

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