Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides moderate but vital benefits to employees who cannot support themselves because of a severe and long-lasting medical condition. Anyone – at any age – can become permanently or temporarily disabled. Ideally, research has shown that Americans living in their 20s have about a 32 percent chance of experiencing a disabling medical impairment.
The research also shows that the condition may cause one to cause at least four months of missed work before one can retire. Even with the high risk of disability, many people have neither long-term nor short-term disability insurance. This begs the question: what can one do if they sustain an injury that leaves one unable to work? This is where SSDI comes into play.
If you want to understand how SSDI works, this post provides the answers you need.
1. Eligibility is Mostly Work-Based
If you want to qualify for SSD benefits, two critical criteria must be met. First, you should have worked in Social Security as a covered employee for a particular duration, explains LaPorte Law Firm from California. You will also need to satisfy a “duration of employment” test, and the minimum requirements also depend on your age. Ideally, the minimum duration of work needed varies; 1.5 years for individuals who become disabled before age 28 and 9.5 years for individuals who become disabled at age 60. Additionally, you will need to satisfy a “current work” test. Ideally, you need to have worked for a certain period – depending on your age – immediately before your disability. Finally, the second criteria are that you need to be disabled (this is obvious).
2. The severity of Medical Condition
If the Department of Social Security ascertains that your condition doesn’t interfere with typical work-related duties, you cannot be considered disabled. However, you will be considered if your ailment interferes with typical work-related activities. The department of Social Security has a list of disabling medical ailments that will automatically qualify an individual as disabled. If your condition doesn’t fall under their list of disabling conditions, they will need to assess whether it is severe enough to qualify. If so, they will consider you disabled, and your application will be approved.
3. What about Work Credits?
In some cases, some individuals don’t have sufficient work credit to qualify for SSDI. However, you may qualify depending on a parent’s or spouse’s work record. For instance, widowers and widows in the age bracket of 50-60 who become disabled may qualify for widows’ disability benefits based on their spouse’s past work history. Additionally, if you become disabled before 22 years, you can be categorized as an adult child. This means you can potentially become eligible for SSDI benefits based on your parent’s work history.
4. The Application Process
Applying for a disability claim is moderately easy. However, it’s a bit complex compared to the application process for Social Security retirement benefits. If you’re applying for disability benefits, you can do it online. You will require the following information: birth certificate, details of your work history, social security number, medical details, and your most recent W-2 or tax return. After application, you will also need to complete some other forms. The most critical form you should file gives the SSA information about your medical ailment.
Additionally, medical practitioners may also need to fill out this form. Finally, the SSA will decide whether you meet the criteria of “being disabled.” The whole process can take about 3-5 months.
5. Providing Proof of Medical Condition
This is the most critical part when applying for SSDI. You need to provide any medical reports you have and give the Social Security Administration the authority to access additional medical records. The SSA will also want to receive details about your ailment from your treating medical doctor. This is the physician who sees you frequently. It would be best if you also understood that SSA only accepts health information from licensed doctors. This means they want records provided by professionals in the field of medicine related to your disability.
6. Denial of Application
We should point out that the denial rate for SSDI benefits is pretty high. This means there’s a high chance your application may be rejected. However, if your claim is rejected, there are several stages of appeal. One of them includes a request for reconsideration. Technically, this means a new disability claims examiner will have to review your claim again. Additionally, there’s also a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ), or you can appeal to a federal court.
It’s vital to apply for SSD benefits immediately when you become disabled. As we mentioned above, the application takes between three and five months. According to Social Security, this is also counted as part of the binding waiting duration of five months after the onset of your disability. Finally, the Social Security tests are stringent so ensure you have the relevant documentation with you.