(DailyTreasure.com) – The Social Security Administration has three main programs designed to help Americans in different phases of life. They include:
- Social Security Retirement, also known as the Old-Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance Program
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
While each of these programs has merit, the SSDI program is specifically designed to assist Americans who have earned a great number of work credits, aren’t yet of retirement age, and are facing a long-term disability that will make them incapable of working. In many cases, these disabilities or illnesses result in death.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
The process of applying for SSDI typically isn’t fast or easy. Many applicants face a waiting period that is a minimum of five months, and SSDI begins paying benefits at the beginning of the sixth month after the disability started. While this may seem daunting, it can also result in a situation where a person who qualifies is due a significant amount of backpay.
In order to qualify, a worker must meet the following criteria:
- The worker must have had employment that qualified for Social Security
- Must have a medical condition that meets the SSDI criteria for disability
- The worker must have earned at least 40 SSDI work credits, with at least 20 being in the 10 years leading up to the disability diagnosis.
For the purposes of SSDI, the Social Security Administration defines a disability as permanent. This means the disability must be full and long-term. It is typically expected that a person will be unable to work for at least a year, if not permanently, or that their disability will result in death. There are a myriad of other programs available for short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, short term disability insurance policies, and more.
What is a Qualifying Disability?
There is a very low income threshold for those who are on SSDI to maintain and still qualify for coverage. In most cases, it is under $1,470 per month. Workers who are blind may earn up to $2,460 per month before being disqualified for SSDI coverage.
Applicants must determine if their medical disability or condition is on the SSDI list of disabilities. A worker’s condition not appearing on the list does not automatically disqualify them, but does mean the review board will have to determine whether or not the person’s condition is as severe as necessary to qualify.
While there is typically a waiting list, the Social Security Disability Insurance program does have two fast-tracks that usually allow for faster approval. They include the Quick Disability Determination and the Compassionate Allowance programs. The Quick Disability Determination program uses a computer algorithm to sort cases that are very likely to be approved quickly.
The Compassionate Allowance program typically allows for fast approval for those with certain medical conditions. These may include cancers like that of the pancreas or leukemia, brain disorders, ALS, and disabilities impacting children.
The SSDI approval board will review your application, which must include medical documentation from a doctor. Paperwork from nurse practitioners, physicians assistants, or certified healthcare professionals will not be accepted. Upon review, the board will decide if you can do the work you used to do and/or whether or not you can do ANY other form of work.
Surviving spouses who were previously supported by worker who has passed away may also be eligible for benefits using their deceased spouses work credits. In these cases, the recipient must be between the ages of 50 and 60 and must still meet the outlined criteria for a disability.
Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance
A worker interested in applying for SSDI should start by gathering medical records and documentation from their doctors. Review the Adult Disability Checklist to ensure you have everything you need before you fill out your application.
When ready, the worker should log into or create their My Social Security account online to submit their application. The initial decision letter takes, on average, three to six months to arrive. Applicants can check the status of their application at any time by logging into the portal or by calling 800-772-1213 (Monday – Friday, 8am to 7pm ET).
What to Do If a SSDI Application is Denied
Don’t panic and don’t over-react. Everyone has the right to appeal a SSDI denial, but only if done within the appropriate amount of time. Many people find it is beneficial to contact a SSDI attorney to assist with the review. This may include asking for reconsideration, a hearing before an administrative law judge, review with an Appeals Council, or escalation to a federal court.
American who work hard deserve to be supported when they are injured or become ill. They’ve paid into a system, and deserve to benefit from it during difficult times. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the Social Security Administration if you think you may qualify for disability. Payments averaging from $1,300 to $3,600 per month are available.
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