Learn the basics of SSDI and how to apply for it!

Sustaining yourself and your family has become difficult for people who have become disabled. Some may feel as though they are becoming a burden to their loved ones.

If you ever worked prior to your disability and paid social security taxes, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. 

This article will go into detail about the following:

  • What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
  • Who is Eligible for an SSDI Benefit? 
  • How Do You Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

Our law office is here to provide effective legal assistance for people who seek to file for their SSDI benefits. If you are one of them, contact us to schedule a consultation today!

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

A disabled individual can get into one of two programs under the Social Security Act:

  • The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Essentially, this program is open to workers who have paid into or contributed to the Social Security trust fund.
  • The Supplemental Security Income (SSI). This is for those disabled individuals who are low-income earners or have minimal to no assets. 

Both programs serve different purposes, eligibility, requirements, and benefits. However, for this article, the basics of the SSDI will be highlighted, as well as outlining the process of applying for social security disability insurance benefits.

Who is Eligible for an SSDI Benefit? 

In general, to be eligible for SSDI benefits, one must meet the following criteria:

Worked in Social Security-covered jobs 

how do you apply for social security disabilityWhen it comes to the employment determination criteria, the Social Security Administration is strict in determining the work credits. The general guideline is that you must have worked long and recently enough to qualify. However, it is crucial to realize that working for many years and paying Social Security taxes may not be enough.

Work Credit

The law states that in order to be qualified, one must obtain a particular number of work credits in a specified time, which is dependent on the applicant’s age at the time he or she became disabled.

You can earn up to four work credits in a year, with one work credit equaling three months. Most persons require at least 20 credits acquired over a ten-year period, beginning with the year they become disabled. For younger workers, they may be able to qualify with fewer credits.

Here are the required number of work credits depending on your age when you became disabled:

  • Before age 24: At least six work credits earned in 3 years before your disability occurred. 
  • Age 24 to 31: In most cases, you will be deemed eligible if you worked for half of the period between the age of 21 and the onset of your impairment.

For example, assume that you were disabled when you were 27 years old. In this case, you must have three years of work experience out of six years (equivalent to 12 work credits) between the ages of 21 and 27.

  • Age 31 or older: Generally, you must have earned at least 20 credits in the 10-year period before the onset of your impairment.

Remember that you must count backward from the year you became disabled to determine how many work credits you have. This means that credits that are out of the year-period requirement will be wiped out or expire. 

If this happens to you, don’t be afraid to seek the advice of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer to assist you by examining the merits of your case. In addition to that, they will guide you on how do you apply for social security disability.

A medical condition that fits the Social Security Act’s strict definition.

The Social Security Act contains a relatively restricted definition of who qualifies for disability benefits. Notably, Social Security only compensates for total disability, which means that partial or short-term disability will not be accepted. 

Moreover, the SSA laid out three specific conditions that you need to meet to be eligible:

  1. Inability to work or engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to your medical condition.
  2. You are unable to conduct the previous work or adjust to new ones due to your medical condition. 
  3. The medical condition must have lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months, or it will end in death.
Inability to Work or Engage in Any Substantial Gainful Activity

In general, this refers to working yet earning less than a certain amount of money or the SGA level. This means that even if you have an impairment and you earn more than a certain monthly amount (SGA level), you are not eligible to receive disability benefits. The SSA determines the monthly amount, which may change yearly based on the number of conditions.

Remember that SGA only covers money that was earned from working and not from other sources, such as investments or inheritance.

Medically Determinable Impairment

The Social Security Act clearly states that you must offer medical evidence to prove your impairment or disability to establish such a condition. Evidence may include symptoms (must be associated with any physical or mental problem), medical diagnosis, and laboratory findings. 

Disability Duration

When you declare that you are disabled, you must demonstrate that your impairment was severe enough to keep you disabled for at least 12 months or it may result in your death. To be clear, the 12-month rule does not imply that you must be disabled for 12 months before you apply. It may also mean that the condition is expected to last at least one year.

How Do You Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits?

Step 1: Gather all documents that will be attached to your application.

Here are the general documents that you need to provide when filing:

  • Your original birth certificate. If this is not possible, any other kind of evidence of birth will suffice.
  • Individuals who were not born in the United States are required to show proof of US citizenship or legal permanent residence status.
  • If you were discharged from military service before 1968, you must provide discharge paper/s to support it.
  • W-2 forms and/or self-employment tax returns from the previous year
  • Medical evidence demonstrating your condition’s diagnosis. This may include doctor’s reports, laboratory test results, x-ray scans, or other medical records that clearly establish the condition. 
  • Any proof demonstrating that you obtained any temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits.

Please keep in mind that you must supply the original copy of all documents as much as possible since there are some that the SSA requires to see the original copy, like your birth certificate. 

Furthermore, the SSA has the authority to request an additional proof in order to confirm your eligibility.

Step 2: File your application. 

Fortunately, there are three ways where you can submit your application: online, by phone, or in person. 

If you prefer to apply by phone, go to the SSA’s website to find out what is the designated phone number for applying for disability benefits. 

For an in-person application, go to your local Social Security office to learn more about the application process for social security disability insurance benefits. Use the SSA’s Office Locator to find the location of the SSA’s local offices near you.

If you want flexibility, filing online is the option for you. Among the many advantages of filing online is that you may begin your disability claim right away without waiting for an appointment. You may also monitor the status of your application using your Social Security account.

Step 3: Wait for the Decision of SSA

Once you have done submitting your application, you will not do anything other than wait for their decision on your application. The SSA will usually inform you whether your application was approved or denied within three to five months.

If your application was denied, you could seek the help of a disability claims lawyer to draft the appeal for you. Remember to seek help as soon as possible because you only have 60 days to appeal the decision.

Begin Your Social Security Disability Benefits Application Today!

At Rollins Law Firm, we understand that your situation is serious, which is why we want to provide you with the best legal service that you deserve. Our Mississippi lawyers are equipped with extensive knowledge about the Social Security Act and have years of experience in applying them. 

We only want what’s best for you. Get our help today to ensure the success of your future!

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