The Social Security Administration has two main benefit areas for U.S. citizens who qualify: Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The receivers of these benefits sometimes have overlapping situations, such as old age and disability.
SSDI pays benefits to people considered disabled. SSI pays benefits based on financial need, which isn’t always related to health costs. Age, health, and past jobs all play a role in both branches. For our purposes, we’ll focus on Social Security Disability Insurance.
This benefit type applies to disabled and permanently injured people who previously worked. These people must be “insured,” meaning they worked long enough and paid social security taxes. Several other factors go into qualifying for SSDI, which we’ll discuss below.
What It Means to Be Disabled
The term “disabled” is subjective because there are several disability benefit programs. Each benefit provider defines disability in different ways. According to the Social Security Administration, partial or short-term disability does not qualify you for benefits.
Administration rules state that disabled persons meet the following criteria:
- They cannot perform work that they used to do
- They can’t adjust to other work because of any medical condition(s)
- Their disability has lasted a certain amount of time and will continue to last or result in death
For most people, their disability is considered permanent if it will last for at least a year past the time of application. Of course, benefit amounts depend on the severity of the disability.
Now that you understand the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability, let’s discuss the application process.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits
When it comes to applying for benefits, it’s always important to apply as soon as you become disabled. Procrastinating your application can cause several problems. You could lose necessary documentation, or you could no longer qualify for benefits. No matter how intimidating you find the process, you deserve to see it through.
The application process is complex for a reason; it’s important to deter people who just want a free ride. Many people deserve these benefits, but getting them is often another matter. Follow the basic outline below to get an idea of where to start.
Steps to Apply
First, familiarize yourself with the application process.
- Visit the Social Security Disability website (http://www.ssa.gov/dibplan/#sb=3).
- Read through their various helpful publications (http://www.ssa.gov/dibplan/dapply.htm).
- Complete an online application.
- Call the toll-free number (1-800-772-1213) with any questions.
- Visit the nearest Social Security office (https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp).
If you have trouble hearing, the TTY number is 1-800-325-0778. If accessing the internet is difficult, have someone help you with your online application. Have your helper read through “Helping Someone Apply Online (http://www.ssa.gov/planners/thirdparty.htm).” Required Documents
When applying, you’ll need to provide the following documents:
- Original birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship
- Medical documentation: records, doctor reports, test results Recent and valid W-2 forms or self-employment tax forms
- Valid pay stubs, award letters, or settlement agreements
- Proof of any temporary or permanent benefits (including workers’ compensation)
- Military discharge papers if you served before 1968
- An official adult disability report
Collect these documents to prove medical condition(s) and your previous working situation. Your current state of health and work history are both essential aspects of the application process.
Why Previous and Existing Benefits Matter
Those applying for benefits often ask whether it’s possible to have multiple benefits. There are several types of financial aid for disabled persons. Each one has its own rules, requirements, and regulations. These aid programs include:
- Workers’ compensation
- Public disability benefits Civil service disability
- Temporary state disability
- Other government retirement benefits based on disability Social Security Disability Insurance
While each benefit source differs, many injuries and illnesses qualify for one or more benefit. This doesn’t mean you should apply for all three, though. Take time to investigate which benefit type fits your situation best.
It’s not always possible to receive multiple benefits, because having one can lessen your chance to qualify for others. If your combined benefits exceed 80% of your average earnings before you became injured or ill, you’ll receive reduced Social Security benefits.
Before making any big decisions, consult a legal professional to help you understand your options. This will help you avoid regret and more difficult situations.
Why You Should Seek Legal Help
In many cases, it takes more than one application to obtain Social Security Disability Insurance. Even the most careful person can have something go wrong in their application. Instead of making the same mistakes a second or third time, trust an experienced attorney to help you succeed.
Consult a lawyer with knowledge of the application process and laws surrounding it. They’ll provide you with useful advice and direction that will help you obtain benefits. Even better, you’ll have the necessary support to achieve a well-crafted application. Get started today; schedule a consultation with a lawyer who is experienced in the realm of Social Security benefits.