Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that provides benefits to disabled workers and their families. If you can no longer work because of a medical condition, you might qualify. Below, we’ll cover what SSDI is and how it works.
Unfortunately, getting disability benefits is difficult for many people. If you are struggling to get approval, John Foy & Associates can help. We’ll discuss your options today during a FREE consultation. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case.
To schedule your FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
How Does SSDI Work?
SSDI is a program provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). SSDI benefits come from Social Security (FICA) taxes on workers’ paychecks.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet specific criteria. The SSA is strict when evaluating applications. You must provide thorough information when applying for benefits.
There are two main requirements for SSDI:
- Having earned enough work credits
- Having a condition that the SSA recognizes as disabling
Let’s look more closely at each point.
SSDI Work Credits
When you earn a paycheck, your employer deducts a portion of your wages for Social Security taxes. These taxes pay into SSDI for people who become unable to work.
If you develop a disability, you should be able to access the SSDI program into which you’ve paid. However, you must have earned enough work credits to qualify.
- You earn work credits through your yearly wages or self-employment income.
- The amount of income you need for one credit changes each year. For 2020, one work credit equals $1,410 in wages.
- You can earn up to four work credits per year. In 2020, that equals $5,640 in wages.
Most people need at least 40 work credits to qualify for disability benefits. If you are age 31 or above, you will need at least 20 credits in the 10 years before your disability starts.
If you earn more than the minimum requirement, it does not increase your benefits. Your average earnings determine your monthly SSDI benefits, not any additional work credits.
Thankfully, it’s relatively easy to have enough work credits if you’ve worked much at all in the past 10-20 years.
Younger workers might require fewer than 40 work credits:
- If you become disabled before age 24, you will need six credits from the past three years before your disability starts.
- If you become disabled between ages 24 and 31, you will need work credits of working half of the time between age 21 and when your disability starts.
Determining the number of work credits you need can be confusing. If you need help, contact a trusted Social Security Disability lawyer.
Having a Disabling Condition
Besides having enough work credits, you must also meet the definition of disability. Social Security defines disability differently than other programs. You only qualify if you have a total disability.
To evaluate your condition, the SSA will ask five questions:
- Are you currently working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Can we find your condition on the Listing of Impairments?
- Can you perform any past work you did?
- Can you perform any other types of work?
The SSA will be looking to see if you can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least a year. In 2020, over $1,260 per month is considered SGA. If you are making over that amount, the SSA will not approve you for benefits.
You can only qualify for SSDI if you have a long-term, severe, and total disability. Your condition must have lasted (or be expected to last) at least a year or result in death.
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Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability is for anyone who has enough work credits and cannot work because of a condition. Many Americans think of disability as a program for seniors or those with rare conditions. However, data shows that more than one in four of the 20-year-olds today will become disabled before retirement age.
How Can You Get Approval for SSDI Benefits?
You will need to apply for benefits through the SSA. Be sure to complete your claim as thoroughly as possible. You will need to provide your work and medical history.
Provide as much documentation of your condition as you can. The SSA will be looking to see if you are genuinely disabled from working. We highly recommend working with a Social Security Disability lawyer to help with your application.
Waiting Period for Benefits
Keep in mind that there is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits. You will receive your first check on the sixth month after your disability started. If you apply for benefits right after you become disabled, you might have to wait for your first check.
After the SSA approves you for benefits, they will give you an established onset date (EOD). This is the date when your disability started. So, your benefits will start five full months after your EOD.
Many times, SSDI approval can take around six months to a year. After approval, you can get back payments for the time you went without benefits. Your back pay will come as a lump-sum payment separate from your monthly benefits.
What Happens if Social Security Denies an SSDI Application?
Unfortunately, many applicants end up with a denial even though they qualify. Don’t assume you are out of options. You might just need to change some things with your application.
You have 60 days to request a review from the SSA. There are several steps in the appeal process:
- Request for reconsideration
- The administrative law judge hearing
- An Appeals Council review
- A Federal Court review
If the SSA denied your claim, contact a Social Security Disability lawyer. Your lawyer can help you appeal the decision and improve your application.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
SSDI can be a lifeline after a disability leaves you unable to work. However, getting the benefits you need is not always easy. At John Foy & Associates, we can help you with each step of the application or appeals process.
Our lawyers do not charge a fee unless we win your case. There is no risk to you when speaking or working with us. To get a FREE, no-risk consultation, call John Foy & Associates at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online today.