Basic Requirements To Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Benefit?

The Federal Government has several programs in place to assist people with disabilities. The Social Security Disability Insurance or Benefits is one of the most extensive programs put in place.

There are several criteria to meet if one must qualify for this benefit. Here is all the information you need on the basic requirements to obtain social security disability benefits, medical conditions that lead to disability, the phases of a disability claim, and how much you can receive in benefits.

What Is Social Security Disability Benefit?

This is a Federal government program that pays benefits to you and some of your family members if you are insured. This means that if you have worked long and recently enough, paid social security taxes on your earnings, you are eligible for benefits if you become disabled.

However, it is often not as clear-cut and dried as it may seem. The application and qualification process can be lengthy and time-consuming. This is because Social Security needs to get medical records and ensure that all tendered documents are accurate.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is often confused with Supplemental Security Income (SSI). And although these two names may sound similar, the requirements, qualifications, and benefits you receive are not the same.

What Are The Requirements For SSDI?

To qualify for the Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You must have worked in a job covered by Social Security
  • You must have been working at the said job for “5 of the past 10 years.
  • You must have a medical condition that renders you disabled and prevents you from working.

This criterion is more demanding than those for SSI. This is because most SSDI applicants have not worked five of the past ten years, do not work at a job that pays social security taxes, and are unsure if their medical condition is considered valid according to the Social Security Administration. “5 of the past 10 years” is, most of the time, only a general guideline. It is possible that you may not need to have worked that long to qualify, especially if you are younger. For example, if a young adult suddenly becomes disabled, the individual will not be expected to have worked as long as a much older adult. Depending on your age and the number of work credits earned, sometimes all you need is about one and half years of work to qualify for SSDI.

Taxpayers fund the Social Security Disability Insurance program, so there is no way around it. You must be working in a job covered by Social Security; if you have not contributed your quota to the system, you will be ineligible for SSDI benefits.

Medical Conditions That Qualify You For SSDI

The Social Security Administration has an impairment listing manual called the Blue Book. It contains physical and mental impairments that will automatically qualify a person for SSDI benefits; if the person’s condition meets specified requirements.

The Blue Book is constantly being updated, but it contains several medical conditions with specific disability criterions different from the general definition of disability by the SSA. The medical conditions include:

  • Musculoskeletal problems like back injuries.
  • Cardiovascular conditions like heart failure or forms of heart disease.
  • Issues affecting the senses like loss of vision or hearing loss.
  • Respiratory issues like asthma.
  • Neurological Disorders like MS, Cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, seizures, or epilepsy.
  • Mental Disorders like depression, anxiety, autism.
  • Immune system disorders like HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Skin disorders like dermatitis
  • Digestive tract problems like liver disease
  • Kidney disease and genitourinary problems
  • Hematological disorders like blood poisoning or bone marrow failure
  • Cancer
  • Various syndromes like Sjogren’s Syndrome etc.

All these conditions are classified as disabilities. To get a comprehensive list of all the medical conditions in the blue book and the ones absent, you can check the SSA Bluebook.

To get the disability classification for your medical condition, you need first to check if your disability is listed. If it is, the next step is to get a diagnosis of your condition from your doctor. But an ordinary diagnosis will get you disability for only a few conditions.

Your medical condition does not have to be an exact match with the ones listed in the blue book. You can be awarded benefits if Social Security regards some aspects of your condition as medically equivalent to those listed.

You can also be eligible for SSDI benefits if your medical condition is not listed as long as the condition limits you to the point that you cannot work and you can barely function. Not all medical conditions have to be listed in the blue book before they are considered disabilities.

The most important thing is that an individual is severely medically impaired, and this medical impairment limits a person to the point that they cannot do their job or any job.

How To Apply For SSDI

You can apply for Social Security benefits by filing online, calling the Social Security office for an appointment to use, or by going to your local Social Security office in person.

Before you apply, you need to have all of the required documents ready. This includes having a comprehensive medical record (list and address of all the doctors and clinics, diagnoses, test results, doctor’s appointments) and much more.

Phases Of The Application Process

Many times, individuals who apply for benefits are often denied at the first try. The good news is that you can appeal; the bad news is that the appeal process is complex and lengthy. If you haven’t engaged the services of a Social Security disability attorney, this would be a great time to.

The application process for SSDI is in phases. We have the Initial phase where you apply either online, by phone, or in person. After applying, the SSA will evaluate the claims and determine eligibility. This process takes about three to five months, and more than half of the applicants are denied, but you can appeal.

If your application was denied, you have the reconsideration phase, hearing phase, appeals council, and finally, the federal court. All these phases give you a fighting chance and require the SSA to take another look at your application. If you genuinely believe you are eligible, you should get the process started as soon as possible and engage the services of a professional.

If your application were approved, the benefits and monthly award amount would begin to roll in. You can receive your payments via direct deposit or onto a payment card. This payment would be made 30 – 90 days after the approval letter. Other stipulations will be made known to you.

How SSDI Payments Are Calculated

The first thing to know is that the severity of your disability will not affect the number of benefits you receive. The SSA determines how much you receive based on your average earnings before you were disabled.

SSDI payments usually range between an average of $800 – $1,800 per month. As of 2020, the maximum benefit was $3,011 per month. To figure out how much you are likely to receive, the SSA has an online calculator that you can use.

If you are already receiving other government benefits like worker’s compensation, public disability benefits, government-based pension, or foreign government pension, your monthly SSDI benefit could be significantly reduced.

After the approval of your SSDI application, the SSA will calculate your monthly benefit and how many months of payments you will receive is dependent on the date you applied and disability onset date. The SSA gives you an Established Onset date; this is the date the SSA decided you became disabled; it may or may not correlate with the date you put down.

To weather the storm of applying for a Social Security Disability Benefit, you need a skilled professional on your side. It increases your chances of getting your application approved and receiving your benefits stress-free.

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