Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a particular type of disability benefits managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). While the program is a vital lifeline for many residents of Wayne County, qualifying for it is not easy. Many of those who are eligible find they do not receive the benefits to which they are entitled. If you are unable to work because of a disability, the Disability Law Group is here to serve you.
What Is SSDI?
When someone applies for disability benefits through SSA, there are many programs available depending on various technical criteria, but two are most common. One is Supplemental Security Income, which is usually reserved for individuals with low income. The other is Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. SSDI is paid for by FICA deductions taken from a worker’s paychecks. The more someone works, the more work credits he or she earns. More credits translate to more SSDI. Once an individual receives SSDI for two years, he or she is eligible to receive Medicare, regardless of age.
SSDI provides benefits to workers as well as their dependents. It replaces some of the income lost due to the worker’s disability. The SSA does not provide SSDI on a partial or temporary basis, and the applicant must meet the government’s definition of “disabled” to receive benefits.
How Does The SSA Define “Disabled”?
In the eyes of the SSA, “disabled” means an inability to work because of a severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year. An applicant may also be considered disabled if the medical condition is expected to result in the applicant’s death. The condition must prevent the applicant from either working his or her past job or engaging in what the government calls substantial gainful activity. It must also prevent the applicant from adjusting to a new job.
The government maintains a list of medical conditions for each major system of the body. If an individual has one of the conditions on the list of impairments, that person will likely be considered “disabled.” If an individual has a medical condition that’s not on the list, the government must decide whether it is severe enough to meet the above criteria concerning work and substantial gainful activity.
What Are Work Credits?
An individual must have worked long enough and recently enough in order to use work credits for SSDI. Work credits are based on an applicant’s total yearly wages or self-employment income. An individual can earn up to four credits each year. The amount of income needed for a work credit varies from one year to the next. For instance, in 2022, an individual earns one credit for each $1,510 in wages or self-employment income. When a worker has earned $6,040, that individual has earned the annual four credits.
The actual number of credits you need to qualify for SSDI depends on the age when your disability began. As a general rule, an individual needs 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the 10 years leading up to the applicant’s disability.
How Do I Apply For SSDI?
For most applicants, SSDI has a five-month waiting period. That means benefits will not be available until the sixth month of an individual’s disability. The waiting period starts the first full month after the SSA considers an applicant to be disabled. You should therefore apply as soon as you become disabled.
Before you apply, it’s a good idea to gather some basic information about your personal and medical history. That includes:
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship if not born in the U.S.
- W-2 forms
- Tax returns
- Medical records related to your disability
- Employment history
- Workers’ compensation records, if any
What Happens After I Apply?
Most applicants should expect the SSA to do the following after they apply for SSDI:
- Step 1: The first thing the SSA wants to know is whether the applicant is engaged in substantial gainful activity. Even if the applicant is disabled, earning too much money will make him or her ineligible for SSDI.
- Step 2: If the applicant has limited or no income due to a disability, the SSA must determine how severe the disability is. Generally, the disability must be significant enough to interfere with normal, everyday work activities. The applicant’s medical evidence must demonstrate this.
- Step 3: Next, the SSA will decide whether the disability meets the criteria from the list of impairments mentioned above. If so, SSA will likely approve the application at that point. If not, the application will continue to the next step.
- Step 4: At this stage, the SSA will assess the applicant’s ability to perform his or her previous work tasks. Considering a number of factors (e.g. age and work experience), the SSA will decide whether the disability prevents the applicant from doing the work he or she did for the past 15 years.
- Step 5: Lastly, the SSA will evaluate whether the applicant can do other types of work despite his or her disability. The SSA will take into consideration the applicant’s age, education level, past work experience, and whether his or her skills transfer to other occupations.
Contact Our Wayne County SSDI Attorney
Because of the SSA’s strict eligibility rules, many applicants who should qualify for SSDI are ultimately not approved. It is essential that the applicant thoroughly document his or her disability and make a compelling claim that the condition is severe enough to interfere with work.
Our attorneys understand the government’s complicated rules and regulations concerning disability. We take the time to carefully review the individual circumstances of each client who retains our firm, and then we get to work fighting for the SSDI benefits they deserve.
You can count on Disability Law Group. To get started with your SSDI application, or to appeal a claim denial, give us a call today for your free consultation.