If you have a physical or mental health condition that prevents you from working at any job for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for Social Security disability and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) monthly benefits. You may also be able to collect a lump sum as a retroactive payment.
Your Guide to Applying forSocial Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability benefits are available to qualifying individuals who have been out of work for at least a full year because of a mental or physical health condition. Those who are out of work but have not been collecting the payments to which they are entitled may qualify for a retroactive payment.
Who Qualifies forSocial Security Disability
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) may be available to those who have previously worked and paid Social Security taxes. Adults who have not worked in the past but have limited income and/or resources may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Children with severe developmental or functional impairments may also be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will decide if you have a qualifying disability. A qualifying disability does not include a short-term or partial disability. People who are currently working and earn at least $1,220 a month as of 2019 will not be considered disabled by the SSA.
To determine disability, the agency uses these criteria:
Are you physically and mentally able to perform the work you did before you became disabled?
Does your medical condition prevent you from taking on a different line of work?
Is your disability expected to last at least a year?
Are you severely limited from completing basic tasks that involve memory, lifting, sitting, standing, and other essential functions?
To qualify for payments, you must also have a qualified disorder. You must meet the approved criteria for specific conditions in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments.
Certain diseases are eligible for the Compassionate Allowances program. This program expedites approval for SSDI and SSI benefits. Examples include childhood cancer and other types of cancer, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other debilitating severe disorders.
For SSDI, you must earn at least 40 work credits during your lifetime to qualify if you are age 62 or older. Credit amounts change each year. For 2019, you earn four credits for every year in which you have made at least $5,440. Most people who work earn enough credits to qualify before becoming disabled.
SSI benefits are not based on your work history. The older you are, the more credits you need to qualify. If you are younger than 24 when you became disabled, you must have earned at least six work credits in the three years before you became unable to work. (rearranged paragraph)
If you are older than age 65, disabled, or blind, you may be eligible for payments under this program. SSI is also available for minors who are blind and/or disabled.
How Do I Apply forSocial Security Disability Benefits?
If you are out of work because of a physical or mental illness, you can start the application process online at https://www.ssa.gov/. You can also apply at your local SSA office or over the phone by calling 1-800-772-1213. Before beginning your application, gather the required information:
Before beginning your application, gather the required information:
Proof of age
Social Security number
Details of medical care associated with the disabling condition, including medical provider contact information, the dates of medical visits, and records from these visits
Medication details including prescriptions and dosage
Lab and test results associated with your condition
Details about your work history
Your most recent tax return or W-2 form from when you were working, if applicable
How Is the Disability Payment AmountCalculated?
Your monthly SSDI payment is calculated based on your lifetime average earnings. If you have worked in your lifetime, you receive an annual statement from the SSA that details your monthly payment if you become disabled. You can also use the administration’s online benefits calculator.
If you also receive worker’s compensation because you became disabled after a work-related injury, the SSA will reduce your payment amount. In addition, this may also apply if you receive a pension or other types of payments. When you are approved for Social Security disability benefits and receive SSDI or SSI for two years, you will automatically be enrolled in Medicare. Medicare provides coverage for your medical care and any related expenses.
How Long Will I ReceiveBenefits?
When you are approved for SSDI or SSI, benefits are awarded retroactively, beginning with the sixth month in which you could not work because of the disability. For example, if you have been out of work since January 2019 and the SSA approves your application in December, your benefits will be backdated to June 2019.
You will continue to receive benefits until you can return to work. If you reach retirement age, they will convert your disability benefits to retirement benefits if you are eligible.
Will My Child Qualify forBenefits?
If you have dependent children, they may also qualify for benefits if you are no longer working because of a disability. Eligible individuals must be younger than age 18, a full-time student who is 18 or 19 years old, or older than age 18 with a disability that started before age 22. In the latter case, they may also be eligible for their own personal benefits.
What Happens if My Application IsDenied?
If the SSA decides you do not qualify for disability payments, you have the right to appeal this decision. You can appeal the decision online. If more information is requested, you will need to provide the details of your denial with your appeal request.
Why Should I Hire an Attorney When Applying forSSDI?
Social Security laws are extremely complex, and most people get denied the first time they apply for benefits. First time denials extend the amount of time it will take to be approved for income while you are medically unable to work. An attorney who specializes in this area can work with the SSA on your behalf, increasing the chance of approval and facilitating the appeal process.
Some of the services we provide include:
Completing and submitting all required documentation through all steps in the process
Communicating with the SSA about your case
Obtaining medical records and reports from your team of physicians as needed to support your case
Representing you in a court hearing about your case if necessary
Appealing your case at the federal level if necessary
Managing the process to improve your chances of an approval
Appealing your case if you were previously approved, but the SSA decides you are able to return to work
Working with an attorney improves your chances of approval for SSDI and SSI benefits. We can help you provide the correct medical information to receive your qualification and argue to expedite your case if you have extenuating circumstances.
Contact us today toschedule your free consultation
You can apply at any Social Security office or online at www.socialsecuiriy.gov. Most people who apply are initially denied, but many of these people ultimately receive benefits. It is important not to give up. Our Social Security disability lawyers can help.
If you think you may have a Social Security Disability claim, please call our toll-free number or complete the contact form on this website. We can help you no matter where you live. We will conduct an initial consultation to determine whether you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. There is no charge for our initial consultation, and we don’t get paid unless you get paid.
Our lawyers can help:
Kurgis & Associates can help you determine your eligibility for SSDI or SSI benefits, with no charge for your initial consultation. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced attorneys.