Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits provide income to those with disabilities. However, many people need help from a lawyer to get an approval. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can help.
John Foy & Associates has been helping SSD applicants for over 20 years. We know what it takes to win your claim. Plus, we will not charge you unless we win your case.
To get a FREE, no-risk consultation, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
How Social Security Disability Benefits Work
Social Security Disability insurance first became law in 1956, according to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Then, in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law. These laws help protect Americans with disabilities.
Under the law, those with disabilities should have the same rights as everybody else. If you or a loved one can no longer work because of a disability, you have options. You might be eligible for Social Security Disability.
When you earn income, the government withholds Social Security taxes from your paycheck. These taxes go towards Social Security Disability benefits. If you’ve become disabled, you have a right to the benefits you’ve paid into.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability
To qualify for SSD, you must have:
- Worked in jobs covered by Social Security
- Have a medical condition that qualifies as a disability
Earning Work Credits
The amount of work you need changes each year. The SSA looks at your work credits. Most people need at least 40 work credits in total. You’ll need to have earned 20 of those credits in the last ten years before your disability.
In 2020, one work credit equals $1,410 in wages or income. You can earn up to four work credits per year. Younger workers will not need as many work credits.
Definition of Disability
You must also meet the SSA’s definition of disability. The SSA uses five questions to see if you’re disabled:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Is your condition on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do any work you used to do?
- Are you able to do any new type of work?
If your application passes through each stage, you will qualify for benefits. The SSA will approve your application.
Cracks in the Social Security Disability System
Unfortunately, many SSD applicants do not get the outcome they’d hoped. Even those who qualify can have their application denied.
The SSA is strict when reviewing each applicant. They are careful to prevent fraudulent applications. To get approved, you will need a strong claim that details your situation. Many times, you just need a professional eye to improve your application.
If the SSA denies your application, but you know you should qualify, talk to a lawyer. A Social Security Disability lawyer will know what to do.
What Conditions Automatically Qualify You For Social Security Disability?
What Conditions Automatically Qualify You For Social Security Disability?
Conditions on the Compassionate Allowances list automatically qualify. These conditions are severe enough to need benefits immediately. The Social Security Administration processes these applications faster.
- Adult brain disorders
- ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease)
- Acute leukemia
- Non-Hodgkin lymphoma
- Stage IV breast cancer
- Inflammatory breast cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Small cell lung cancer
- Gallbladder cancer
- Muscular dystrophy
- Rare childhood disorders
The Compassionate Allowances list contains more than 200 conditions. Check the list if you think you have one of these diseases. If your condition is on the list, you probably qualify for expedited approval. Certain organ transplants also automatically qualify for benefits for at least 12 months.
If your condition automatically qualifies, you only need to prove your condition through your medical records. You do not have to submit additional information as a “regular” applicant would. You’ll usually receive benefits between a few weeks and a couple of months. This is much faster than the several months that other applicants wait.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) will also look at your financial situation. If you are earning too much, they might deny your claim. However, most individuals with severe conditions are not able to earn much money — if anything at all. That’s why they are applying for assistance.
Is Social Security Disability Taxable?
Social Security Disability benefits can be taxable in some cases. However, they’re usually not. You would only have to pay taxes on your benefits if you make above the IRS threshold. It also depends on whether you live in a state that taxes Social Security benefits.
You will need to consider your yearly income. If your income is more than the following, your benefits might be taxable:
- $25,000 for those who are single or married, filing separately
- $32,000 for those who are married, filing jointly
Most people who get SSD do not earn more than the base numbers. SSD applicants typically cannot earn any income. However, you could have a spouse who is making income. If so, that could increase your total income above the limits.
Your total income will include:
- Half of your disability benefits
- Income from any other sources
- Tax-exempt interest
If you are earning much income at all, you will not qualify for SSD. So, chances are high that you won’t have to pay taxes. It also depends on your state. As of 2020, there are 13 states that still tax disability benefits. Most do not.
If you get back payments for benefits, that could increase your yearly income. Back payments might put you above the base amounts. However, you can usually apply part of these benefits to previous years.
Check with a Social Security Disability lawyer if you’re not sure about the laws where you live.
How Much Does Social Security Disability Pay a Month?
Your benefits per month depend on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will look at how much you paid into Social Security through your wages. The severity of your condition does not determine your monthly pay.
A fact sheet from the SSA for 2020 shows the average monthly payment was $1,259. This changes from year to year. If you are getting benefits from other programs, your SSD might pay you less. You cannot receive benefits totaling more than 80% of what you were making before your disability.
You can figure out how much SSD will pay you in two ways:
- Online through your Social Security account
- Through the SSA’s Benefits Calculator
You can enter information into the calculator as if your disability started today. A Social Security Disability lawyer can also help determine what your benefits should be.
SSD will pay you on the sixth full month after you become disabled. You’ll get paid each month based on what’s due the previous month. For example, you would get your August benefits in September.
You might also be eligible for back payments. Back payments provide benefits for the time between when you became disabled and when you were approved.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?
To qualify for Social Security Disability, someone must have:
- Enough work credits through wages covered by Social Security
- A disabling medical condition that the SSA accepts
- Been unable to work for a year or more
SSD only provides benefits for total disabilities. You cannot get benefits for a short-term or partial disability.
The SSA will look at your work credits and disability to see if you qualify.
When you earn income covered by Social Security, you pay Social Security taxes. Your employer takes a portion of your wages for these taxes. To qualify for SSD, you must have enough work credits.
You can earn up to four work credits per year. In 2020, one work credit equaled $1,410 in wages. This amount changes per year.
Most people need at least 40 work credits to qualify for benefits. You also must have earned 20 of the credits within the ten years before your disability.
Definition of Disability
You will also need to meet the SSA’s definition of a disability. That means:
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- You cannot do other forms of work.
- Your disability has lasted (or will last) for a year or more.
You will need to prove your disability through medical records and other documents
Unfortunately, even those who qualify for a total disability face denials. If the SSA denied your claim, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t qualify. You might just need help improving your claim. Talk to a Social Security Disability lawyer for help today.
Can You Get SSI and SSDI?
Yes, some people can get both SSI and SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) calls this a concurrent claim. You can apply for both programs online, in person, or over the phone. Older adults and those applying for a disabled child cannot submit a SSI application online.
Whether or not you can get both benefits depends on your situation. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is available for those who:
- Have a disabling medical condition
- Have enough work credits
- Have (or are expected to have) a total disability for at least a year
You must have a work history to qualify for SSDI. You’ll also need to meet the SSA’s definition of a disability. On the other hand, work credits do not matter for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSI benefits are for those who:
- Are aged 65 or older
- Have partial or total blindness
- Cannot work because of a disabling condition
A person must have low income and resources to qualify for SSI. Often, SSI is an option for those who cannot get SSDI benefits.
Many people can qualify for both types of benefits. SSI can be a good supplement for SSDI assistance. After approval, SSI benefits start on the first full month. SSDI benefits begin after a five-month waiting period. So, they will start on the sixth full month after approval.
What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?
The SSA manages both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs provide monthly financial benefits, but they have crucial differences.
SSI is available to those with very limited income and assets. SSI does not require a work history. On the other hand, SSDI is only available to disabled individuals who have earned work credits. Some people will qualify for both SSI and SSDI benefits.
What Is SSDI?
SSDI provides benefits to those who cannot work because of a disabling condition.
You earn work credits by paying Social Security taxes from your wages or self-employed income. If you become disabled and cannot work, the SSA will look at your work history. If you’ve earned enough work credits and have a total disability, you can qualify.
What Is SSI?
You can qualify for SSI if:
- You have very limited income.
- Your assets are worth less than $2,000 (or less than $3,000 for couples).
Unlike SSDI, work history does not matter for SSI. The SSI program is strictly about financial need. SSI is available for aged, disabled, and blind individuals. Many people turn to SSI if they do not qualify for SSDI benefits.
Those on SSI are automatically eligible for Medicaid in their state. Those on SSDI are eligible for Medicare after 24 months.
What Is the Income Limit for SSDI?
If you engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA), you probably will not qualify for SSDI. In 2020, the income limit is $1,260 per month. If you’re blind, the limit is $2,110.
The SSA does not count all forms of income. For example, the following will not count towards the limit:
- A spouse’s income
- Under-the-table wages
- Other assets
If you earn more than SGA, Social Security probably will not approve your claim. It will consider you to be independent enough to earn income. However, every situation is unique. If you think you might still qualify, contact a Social Security Disability lawyer.
You can begin working while earning SSDI benefits. The SSA allows you to have a trial work period. During this period, you can earn more than the SGA while receiving benefits. You might also be able to get incentives like:
- Training and rehabilitation
- Cash benefits
- Medicare or Medicaid
- Job referrals
A trial work month is any month you earn over $910 in 2020. If you’re self-employed, you must be earning over $910 after business expenses or over 80 hours. You can still get benefits for up to nine trial work months within 60 months. After that time, the SSA might stop sending benefits.
What Are the Top 10 Disabilities?
Based on the SSA’s Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program from 2018, here are the top 10 types of disabilities:
- Musculoskeletal system and connective tissue disabilities, such as arthritis, scoliosis, and fibromyalgia
- Mood disorders, such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Nervous system and sense organ disabilities, such as meningitis, neuralgia, and Parkinson’s disease
- Intellectual disabilities, such as Down syndrome, Fragile X syndrome, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD)
- Circulatory system disabilities, such as heart failure, stroke, and atherosclerosis
- Schizophrenic and other psychotic disorders, such as schizoaffective disorder, schizophrenia, and delusional disorder
- Other mental disorders
- Injuries that have led to disabilities
- Organic mental disorders, such as amnesia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease
- Neoplasms, such as adenomas, fibromas, and lipomas
These types of disabilities made up the largest groups of those on SSDI and SSI. These disabilities can interfere with daily functioning required to earn income. Those with the above disabilities may qualify for benefits.
If a condition prevents you from working, you might be able to receive SSDI. You must have earned enough work credits through Social Security and have proof of your disabling condition. If you have questions about getting benefits, talk to a Social Security Disability lawyer today.
How Much Is 100% SSDI?
Full SSDI benefits look different for each person. The maximum Social Security benefit in 2020 is $3,011. However, that was for workers at full retirement age. The average benefit for 2020 is $1,258.
Your 100% SSDI will depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security through wages. The severity of your condition does not matter. If you have a total disability, your condition qualifies.
A total disability means:
- You cannot work for at least 12 months.
- You cannot do previous forms of work.
- You cannot do other forms of work.
Most adults need at least 40 work credits to qualify for benefits. In 2020, you earn one work credit for every $1,410 in wages or self-employed income. You can earn up to four work credits each year.
The SSA will use a complicated formula to calculate your benefits. After you’ve been approved, you’ll receive monthly payments. Your benefits might be more or less than the average for SSDI.
So, 100% SSDI is unique for everyone. You can view your yearly Social Security statement for more information on your benefits. Your SSDI will depend on your work history and financial needs. If you need help with your claim, contact an SSDI lawyer.
At What Age Does Social Security Disability Stop?
The age at which SSDI stops will depend on each person. Most people will receive benefits until they reach retirement age. That can be anywhere from age 65 to 67. At retirement age, SSDI will turn into retirement benefits.
For some, SSDI will stop before retirement age. There are a couple of main reasons why this can happen:
- Change in disability status
- Change in work status
The SSA might review your case and determine you are no longer disabled. You will receive Continuing Disability Reviews at regular intervals. If you have a high chance of getting better, the SSA will review your case more often.
You must provide regular updates on your condition, including medical records showing your disability. If you don’t respond to a review with information, you could lose your benefits.
Your SSDI benefits can also stop if you start earning income again. You must let the SSA know if:
- Your work pay, hours, or tasks change
- You start or stop working at a job
- You start paying expenses for work related to your disability
If you begin earning more than substantial gainful activity (SGA), the SSA will not consider you disabled. It will probably discontinue your benefits. However, you can enter a trial work period during which you receive benefits while going back to work. If it turns out you cannot continue working, your benefits will continue.
The age that SSDI stops is unique to each person, but most people will receive benefits until retirement age.
Which Pays More, SSI or SSDI?
SSDI pays more than SSI. The exact amount someone receives for SSI or SSDI depends on the individual. However, SSDI benefits are typically quite a bit higher than SSI payments. Some people will be able to receive both.
According to 2020 numbers from the Social Security Administration (SSA):
- The average monthly SSDI payment is $1,258.
- The average monthly SSI payment is $575.
Maximum SSI payments are $783 per month. Even at the maximum, they are much lower than SSDI benefits. However, both SSI and SSDI can be a lifeline for those who need assistance. Some people are eligible to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits.
SSDI benefits depend on work history. To be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked jobs that paid into Social Security. You earn work credits through taxes paid from wages or self-employment income. Besides having enough work credits, you must have a condition the SSA recognizes as a total disability.
SSI benefits depend on financial need. A person does not need to have a work history to get SSI. They must have very low income and few assets to qualify. SSI benefits are often available to those who are disabled but don’t qualify for SSDI. SSI benefits can help with basic living expenses, such as food and rent.
How Much Is Your First SSDI Check?
Your first SSDI check will depend on several factors. First, it will depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security through your wages or self-employment income. You might also receive a lump sum payment for back pay. If you have dependents receiving benefits, that will affect your monthly pay, too.
When the SSA approves your claim, it will let you know:
- When you’ll get your first SSDI benefits
- How much your monthly payments will be
Most people receive back payments after the SSA approves them for benefits. Your back pay depends on your established onset date (EOD). This is the date when the SSA determines you became disabled. Five months after the EOD is your date of entitlement, which is the date when you are entitled to get monthly benefits.
You should receive back payments for the time between your date of entitlement and your date of approval. It can take months or years for the SSA to approve an SSDI claim. Your back payments could be thousands of dollars.
The SSA usually pays your SSDI benefits through direct deposit rather than a paper check. Your first check will typically be the same monthly payment you’ll continue to receive. However, it’s possible for you to receive back payments at the same time.
Will Working Affect My SSDI?
Working can affect your SSDI benefits. It depends on when you are working and how much you’re earning. If you make more than “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) per month, you could lose your benefits. However, the SSA’s work trial period allows you to continue your benefits temporarily.
In 2020, SGA is earning $1,260 or more per month (or $2,110 if you’re blind). If you are making above the SGA when you apply for SSDI, you cannot receive benefits. If you’re already receiving benefits, you can enter a trial work period:
- Any month where you make over $910 is a trial work month.
- You can work up to nine months during a 60-month period.
- During the trial work period, you’ll still receive full SSDI benefits.
- If you find that you cannot continue working because of your condition, you can stop working and your benefits will continue.
After the nine-month trial work period, you can still receive SSDI for any months you don’t earn SGA. These conditions will continue for 36 months after your trial work period. You will not have to re-apply to receive benefits during this time. If your benefits stop because you are earning SGA, you can ask to reinstate your benefits within five years.
What Are the 4 Hidden Disabilities?
Many people live with hidden or invisible disabilities. These conditions can affect someone’s everyday life — even if they seem fine on the outside. A disability can impact walking, communicating, reading, and major bodily functions.
While there are many different types of hidden conditions, four of the most common groups include:
- Mental health conditions, such as bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Chronic pain and fatigue disorders, such as fibromyalgia, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), and chronic tension headaches
- Neurological disorders, such as cerebral palsy, vascular dementia, muscular dystrophy, and Huntington’s disease
People with hidden disabilities often face unfair biases. Others might doubt that they are disabled at all. They might get accused of faking symptoms or exaggerating. However, invisible diseases can be just as disabling as visible conditions.
Those with hidden conditions can qualify for SSDI if:
- They have a medical condition that keeps them from working.
- They have paid enough into Social Security taxes through working in the past.
Getting disability benefits can be more difficult if it’s hard to prove your symptoms. If you or a loved one needs help getting SSDI for their disability, contact John Foy & Associates. We can help you build a strong application for your rights.
Call us at (404) 400-4000 or contact us online for a FREE consultation.
What Are the 3 Most Common Physical Disabilities?
Physical disabilities can show up in many different ways, and they can impact how someone moves in the world. Many physical disabilities make it difficult or impossible to work. They limit a person’s movement or overall functioning.
Some disabilities are short-term, while others are permanent. The most frequent type of disability is movement-related. Three of the most common types of physical disabilities include:
- Arthritis and other musculoskeletal disorders
- Cerebral palsy
- Spinal cord injuries
Each of these conditions can impair someone’s ability to work and earn an income. They’re also a few of many different types of physical disabilities. Other examples include multiple sclerosis (MS), amputation, and muscular dystrophy.
Physical disabilities can come with secondary issues, as well. Someone might experience fatigue, severe pain, mental health disorders, and much more. There are many parts to a physical disability. Those with disabilities are also less likely to have access to good healthcare.
Someone with physical disability might qualify for SSDI if:
- They have a disabling medical condition.
- The condition keeps them from working for at least 12 months.
- They have earned enough Social Security work credits.
The SSA has a Listing of Impairments with many conditions that might qualify. We encourage those with a disability who cannot work to apply for SSDI benefits. If you need help or have questions, work with a Social Security Disability lawyer.
How Far Back Will SSDI Pay?
After applying for SSDI, you might wait weeks or months to start receiving benefits. Thankfully, the SSA can pay for some of the time you wait. SSDI might pay as far back as 12 months from when you apply for benefits.
There are a few factors that affect how far back SSDI might pay you.
- Waiting period: There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits. You cannot get benefits sooner than your sixth full month of disability.
- Established onset date (EOD): Your EOD is the date your disability started. You will need to know this date to determine your back payments. The SSA will use details from your application, such as medical history and last work date, to determine your EOD. If you think the SSA has the wrong EOD for you, contact a SSDI lawyer immediately.
- Types of back payments: There are two ways the SSA pays you for missed benefits. First, there’s the time between your EOD and when you apply for benefits. Then, there’s the time between when you apply and when the SSA approves you for benefits. You can get payments for these times, minus the waiting period.
Unfortunately, delays for SSDI benefits are common. If you had to wait to get your payments, you are eligible for back payments. Contact a SSDI lawyer if you need help calculating what the SSA owes you.
How Much Can I Earn a Month While on SSDI?
You cannot be on SSDI if you earn more than substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2020, SGA is over $1,260 a month. For those who are blind, SGA is $2,110 per month in 2020. The amount for SGA changes slightly each year. If you earn over SGA while on SSDI, you will likely lose your benefits.
You must report any change in work or income to the Social Security Administration (SSA) right away. If you have work-related costs because of your disability, you probably can subtract them from your total monthly income. You can also earn income while on SSDI if you enter a trial work period.
Here’s how a trial work period works while on SSDI:
- Any month you earn over $910 in 2020 is a trial work month. If you’re self-employed, a trial work month is earning over $910 after business expenses or working over 80 hours.
- A trial work period can last up to nine months within 60 months. You do not have to work the months back-to-back.
- You can receive your full SSDI during a trial work period.
The SSA will evaluate your situation after a trial work period. If you earn over $1,260 per month, your benefits will likely end. However, if you made less, you might still receive benefits.
After your trial work period, you can enter an extended eligibility period. Over the next 36 months, you can reinstate your benefits for months you make less than SGA. If you end up not being able to work again, you have five years to get your benefits back without a new application.
How Many Hours Can I Work While on SSDI?
In general, the SSA looks at your monthly income instead of how many hours you work. If you are earning over substantial gainful activity (SGA), you will not qualify for SSDI. In 2020, SGA means earning over $1,260 per month, or $2,110 per month if you’re blind.
Work hours can matter for SSDI if:
- You are self-employed.
- You’re the head of a business, like a corporation or LLC.
The SSA recognizes that you might work hours without pay for your own business. Social Security will look at how many hours you can work along with your income. If you’re self-employed, you can usually work up to 45 hours per month — or a little over 10 hours per week — on SSDI.
If you are making less than SGA but still working many hours, it might be harder to maintain your benefits. If you can work long hours, Social Security might consider you able to earn substantial income.
When you’re self-employed, the SSA uses two types of tests to see if you are earning SGA:
- The Countable Income Test
- The Three Tests
Each test is complicated and examines whether or not you qualify for benefits. That can include seeing how many hours you’re working.
How Is SSDI Calculated?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a complicated formula to calculate your SSDI benefits. Your monthly payments will depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security. To earn work credits, you must work in jobs covered under Social Security.
When calculating your benefits, the SSA will determine your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME). It starts with your average Social Security-covered income during the time you were working. The SSA then uses your AIME to calculate your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA). The PIA is the sum of three different percentages from your AIME.
For 2020, your PIA would be these three percentages added together:
- 90% of the first $960 of your AIME
- 32% of your AIME between $960 and $5,785
- 15% of your AIME over $5,785
After adding up all percentages, the SSA will round to the nearest 10 cents. The SSA calculates your monthly benefit from the sum.
The average SSDI benefit for 2020 is $1,258 per month. Most approved applicants will receive between $800 and $1,800 per month, depending on their work credits.
Each person will have a unique SSDI benefit amount. If you need help calculating yours, sign in to your Social Security account or call an SSDI lawyer.
How Can I Increase My SSDI?
Most of the time, your SSDI benefits depend on how much you’ve paid into Social Security through your wages. However, there are a few conditions that might lead to increased SSDI benefits. Certain life changes can make you eligible for higher benefits.
You might be able to receive additional SSDI benefits if:
- A spouse or ex-spouse who paid into Social Security has died.
- You’ve reached retirement age.
- An adult child who paid into Social Security has died.
- You are at least 62 years old and were married to an ex-spouse for at least 10 years.
- You are caring for a child who was disabled before age 22 or is below age 16.
- You have served in the U.S. military and are receiving SSDI or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Your income or financial resources have decreased (meaning you could be eligible for SSI).
You can find out your benefit options through the SSA’s Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool (BEST). A questionnaire on the website will let you know what you’re eligible to receive.
We also recommend contacting a Social Security Disability lawyer if you might qualify for more SSDI. Your lawyer can help you with each step of your case. To schedule a FREE consultation with a SSDI lawyer at John Foy & Associates, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
Can I Survive on SSDI Alone?
It is possible to survive on only SSDI, but it can be challenging. You might need to adjust some of your expenses or look for other sources of assistance. In some cases, you might be able to get higher benefits based on your situation.
If you have very low income and resources, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) on top of SSDI. SSI helps those with few assets by providing monthly income. There might also be ways for you to earn some extra income from home. For example, you could:
- Do small jobs for family and friends
- Sell items on eBay or Amazon
- Perform some at-home freelance work
- Babysit for those in your neighborhood
To receive SSDI, you cannot perform more than what the SSA calls “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). In 2020, SGA is over $1,260 per month. However, you might be able to earn some extra cash while staying under the limit.
It also helps to look into cost-saving options or assistance programs in your area, including:
- Food stamps
- Energy assistance programs
- Grocery coupons
- Medication assistance
- Home aide benefits
- Transportation programs
- Low-income housing
- School meal programs
If you have questions about your SSDI benefits, talk to a Social Security Disability lawyer today. John Foy & Associates will answer your questions during a FREE consultation. We can help if you need assistance getting the benefits you deserve.
What Is SSDI and How Does It Work?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a social program from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The program provides income benefits to those who are disabled and can no longer work. You might qualify for benefits if you have paid into Social Security and can’t work.
When you earn wages, a portion goes to Social Security (FICA) taxes. These taxes pay for SSDI benefits for disabled workers. To qualify for benefits, you must meet two main criteria:
- Having enough work credits
- Having a disabling condition
You earn work credits through Social Security-covered income. Most workers need at least 40 work credits. However, younger workers will need fewer credits. In 2020, you earn one work credit from $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four work credits per year.
You must also have a disabling medical condition. Unlike other programs, SSDI only covers total disabilities. You must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) from any type of work. The SSA will look at its Listing of Impairments to see if you have a disabling condition.
The SSA will only approve you for SSDI if you meet the qualifications. However, if your application is denied, it doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t qualify. Some people slip through the cracks. Contact a Social Security Disability lawyer to go over your case and help you get approval.
What Is Considered Severe Disability?
When the SSA looks at your disability application, they will check if you have a “severe” disability. A severe disability means a medical condition that prevents you from working. If you do not have a condition that’s severe enough, you will not qualify for SSDI benefits.
Your medical condition must keep you from performing basic activities like:
Under SSDI, a severe disability is a total disability. Your condition must have lasted (or be expected to last) for at least a year. You also should not be able to perform any type of work because of your disability.
The SSA will check to see if you can perform substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2020, the amount for SGA is $1,260 per month. If you can earn more than SGA with your disability, you will not qualify for SSDI.
The SSA has a list of disabling conditions that it considers severe. There are 14 categories:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Special senses and speech
- Respiratory disorders
- Cardiovascular system
- Digestive system
- Genitourinary disorders
- Hematological disorders
- Skin disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Congenital disorders
- Neurological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Immune system disorders
If you have a condition on the list, you’ll know the SSA considers it severe enough. However, you still will need to prove that your disability prevents you from working. You’ll also need to show that you have enough work credits to qualify for benefits.
What Qualifies as Full Disability?
Under Social Security, a full disability means:
- You have a medical condition that prevents you from doing the work you used to do.
- You cannot adjust to other types of work because of your condition.
- Your disability has lasted (or will last) for at least a year, or will result in death.
SSDI only covers full disabilities. You cannot get benefits if you have a partial or short-term disability. When you apply for benefits, the SSA will look at details like your past work, age, medical records, and education.
A full disability means you cannot perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is $1,260 per month or more in 2020. If you are blind, the SGA is $2,110 per month. The SSA will not consider you to have a full disability if you earn over SGA.
The SSA uses a specific process to evaluate a SSDI claim. They will ask a series of questions when looking at your application. Those questions include:
- Are you working?
- Do you have a “severe” condition?
- Is your condition on the list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do past work?
- Can you do any other types of work?
You must be unable to work and have a severe condition to qualify for SSDI. In addition, you must have earned enough work credits through Social Security. If you have a full disability and enough work credits, you will likely qualify.
How Can I Appeal an SSDI Decision?
If the SSA has denied your SSDI application, you have options. You can request an appeal in a few different stages. You’ll need to request your appeal in writing within 60 days of getting the decision. You can send the request online through the SSA website. If medical reasons were involved with your denial, you can also download Form SSA-561.
There are four main levels when appealing a SSDI decision:
- Request for reconsideration
- Administrative law judge hearing
- Appeals Council review
- Federal Court review
When you get your letter from the SSA, it will explain how you can appeal. Do not assume that you don’t qualify for benefits just because you get a denial. Many applicants simply need to appeal and provide additional evidence.
When you request a reconsideration, a new person will look over your claim. It will be someone who had nothing to do with the previous decision. If you don’t agree with that person’s decision, you can request a hearing. An administrative law judge will hear your case.
If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can request an Appeals Council review. The Council will look at every request, but they can deny any if they think the original decision was correct. If you still get denied, you can file a lawsuit in federal court.
How Long Does It Take to Start Receiving SSDI?
If you’re disabled and cannot work, you can apply for SSDI benefits. However, you won’t be able to get your benefits right away. Your application will need time to process, plus some factors can slow everything down. In general, it typically takes about three to five months to get a decision after you apply.
Sometimes, a person can start receiving SSDI sooner or much later. It depends on each individual case and factors like:
- The waiting period: SSDI has a five-month waiting period. You cannot receive benefits for the first five months of your disability. Depending on when you apply for SSDI, you might have to wait a few months, even after approval, to get your first payment.
- Your established onset date (EOD): Your EOD is the date your disability began. When the SSA looks at your case, they will determine your EOD. The waiting period starts with your EOD. If you believe the date on your case is wrong, contact a SSDI lawyer.
- Back payments: There is often time between the end of your waiting period and SSDI approval. You can receive back payments for the time you should have received benefits. The SSA will send this as a lump-sum separate from your monthly payments.
Some factors can delay your benefits. If the SSA denies your claim, you will wait longer to get approval. You’ll need to go through the appeal process. Plus, a lack of medical records can delay when the SSA looks at your application.
It’s best to work with a SSDI lawyer when applying for benefits. They can help you provide the right information from the beginning.
What Does a SSDI Lawyer Do?
There are many things a SSDI lawyer can do for you. They will have a thorough understanding of Social Security and what the SSA needs to approve a claim. Your lawyer can help with every step, from application to filing a lawsuit.
Some of the main things an SSDI lawyer does include:
- Reviewing your case, including carefully looking over the information about your condition. If the SSA denied your claim, your lawyer can determine why and create a plan for the appeal.
- Developing a theory about how you meet disability guidelines: Your lawyer will use one of three theories to argue that you qualify for benefits. The story they use will depend on your situation and how your condition limits you.
- Filling in application gaps if your information is incomplete. Many SSDI applications are denied because there is not enough supporting evidence in the claim.
- Gathering medical evidence to prove your disabling condition. You might need additional records showing that you are unable to perform basic types of work. Your lawyer can help you get copies of any evidence you need.
- Representing you during an appeal: Many people get a denial when they apply for SSDI — even if they qualify. Your lawyer can help you with the appeal process, which includes different levels of hearings. A SSDI lawyer will know how to build a strong case and fight for the benefits you deserve.
Although a SSDI lawyer is not a requirement, we highly recommend working with one. An experienced lawyer gives you the best chance of approval.
Do I Need a SSDI Lawyer?
There is no requirement to have a SSDI lawyer when you file your claim. However, we recommend at least speaking with one. Having a lawyer on your side can make a huge difference to your case outcome.
SSDI lawyers understand the Social Security process. They also know what the Social Security Administration (SSA) is looking for when they evaluate an application. It’s best to get approval sooner rather than later. If you get denied benefits, it will just delay how long you’ll have to wait.
A SSDI lawyer can help you by:
- Offering knowledge about Social Security and its processes
- Compiling the right documentation for your SSDI claim
- Fixing any missing information in your application
- Assisting you with the appeal process after a claim denial
A lawyer can help you with each stage of a SSDI case. Even before you file your application, you can contact a SSDI attorney for help building your claim. There is also no “wrong” time to reach out to a lawyer. If you are simply thinking about applying, an attorney can let you know your chances of approval.
John Foy & Associates can assist you with any step of your disability claim. We do not charge a fee unless we win your case, and the consultation is FREE. To schedule your FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
How Can I Find an SSDI Lawyer?
There are some important questions to ask when finding the right SSDI lawyer for you. You will need an attorney who fits your needs and has the right experience. When considering a lawyer, here are some questions to ask:
- How does the lawyer and their staff treat me?
- Is the lawyer honest in their assessment of my claim?
- How will the lawyer support my case?
- Do they have enough experience with Social Security cases?
- Do they have experience with medical conditions like mine?
- What is the lawyer’s approval rate for disability claims?
- Is the lawyer comfortable providing testimonials?
- Do I need help with a SSDI case for a child?
- Will the lawyer provide a free consultation?
SSDI lawyers are often busy with several cases at once. However, your lawyer should still be attentive when talking to you about your case. Even if they limit the consultation time, they should listen carefully to your needs.
John Foy & Associates can connect you with the best SSDI lawyer for your case. We always start with a FREE consultation, and there is no fee unless we win your case. To schedule a FREE consultation today, call us at (404) 400-4000, or contact us online.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for FREE Today
Applying for SSD benefits can feel like a long road. However, you don’t have to go it alone.
At John Foy & Associates, we have over 20 years of experience. Our attorneys will listen with compassion to your situation. We’ll discuss how we can help your case.
We do not collect a fee unless we win your case. To get a FREE, no-risk consultation, call us at (404) 400-4000. You can also reach out online through one of our contact forms.