SSDI is the Social Security Disability Insurance program administered by the United Sates Government. It pays you money if you are disabled and have worked, and paid Social Security taxes, for enough years to be insured. The number of years of work needed depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 work credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. For example, if you are 44 years old when you became disabled, you must have worked at least 5.5 years. If you were 50 years old, you must have worked at least seven years. If you were 55 you must have worked about 8.5 years. The money that it pays is based on the money you earned before becoming disabled. It is not based on household income or how severe the individual’s disability is. The average SSDI benefit paid to disabled workers in June 2019 was $1,234.00 a month or about $14,064.00 a year. The maximum SSDI benefit that a disabled worker can receive each month is $2,861.00. Typically, the SSDI program provides more money to a disabled person than the SSI program. However, if you do not meet the requirements for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI.
SSI is the Supplemental Security Income program administered by the United States Government. It helps disabled people who have had little to no income in the years before becoming disabled. It is essentially a welfare program based on disability. It provides enough money to cover food, clothing and a place to live. It is also available to children with disabilities if they meet one of the agency’s listed conditions. In 2019, the monthly maximum provided by the federal SSI program is $771 for an eligible individual or $1,157 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse. Some states supplement these amounts. Typically, SSI provides less money to the claimant than the SSDI program.
Besides monthly benefits under the SSDI or SSI programs, past due benefits, or “disability back pay,” will also be awarded. Under the SSDI program, these past due benefits will date back to the date you became disabled. Under the SSI program, back pay will date back to when the disability application was filed. Often, the Social Security Disability back pay can be many thousands of dollars.
Almost all physical or mental impairments expected to last at least 12 months can qualify you for Social Security Disability. However, your medical condition, or conditions, must be “severe” and impair your ability to perform “Substantial Gainful Activity.” A medical condition is “severe” if it limits your ability to do basic work activities. “Substantial Gainful Activity” means that because of the impairment, you are earning less than $1,180.00 per month (2018).
Qualifying for Social Security Disability can be a confusing process. Described in non-lawyer terms, the basic steps you must satisfy are:
There are other requirements depending on your situation. For example, you must be a United States Citizen or a resident alien lawfully in the United States. If you are blind, you do not have to have worked as long. For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) there are also work credit requirements and for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), there are also resource limits. Special rules apply if you are applying on behalf of a child.
The easiest way to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits is to call us at 855.G0-DISABILTY. However, you can also apply by yourself online, or by visiting your local Social Security Office, or calling Social Security’s toll-free number. Documents you may need during the initial application, include: birth certificate; proof of United States Citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States; U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968; W-2 form(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year; An Adult Disability Report that collects more details about your illnesses, injuries or conditions, and your work history; Medical evidence already in your possession. This includes reports from doctors, medical records, reports from objective testing like MRIs and other recent test results; pay stubs, proof of veteran’s benefits, and proof of temporary or permanent workers’ compensation benefits.
During the Social Security Disability Process, both your physical condition and your vocational condition are looked at. Your physical condition is things like injuries and illnesses. Your vocational condition is things like your age, level of education, the jobs you had in the past and the skills those jobs gave you. Some medical conditions are more likely to result in an award of benefits than others. However, a claimant with identical medical conditions may be more likely to receive benefits if their vocational condition is different. The older you are the more likely you are to win social security disability. The fewer years of education you have the more likely you are to win social security disability. The less job skills you have, the more likely you are to win your social security disability. Generally, an older person, with less education and fewer job skills, the less likely they are to find and maintain employment. The less likely you can find and maintain employment, the more likely you are to win SSDI and SSI benefits.
Most Social Security disability claims are denied because there is not enough medical documentation. You have to have thorough medical documentation of your physical conditions to succeed. If all, or part, of your disability is due to a psychological condition, like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, manic depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, you must be getting regular treatment. It is not enough to simply have medication refills every several months. Regular visits to a counselor or therapist that thoroughly documents the problems you are living with is an absolute must. It is also critical that you follow your doctors’ instructions regarding treatment, medications and changes to your lifestyle. It is extremely difficult to obtain Social Security Disability if you are using drugs or abusing alcohol. Also, do not try to fool the social security doctors or judges by giving fake, misleading or ridiculous answers to the questions they ask. This is dishonest and can destroy your disability claim.
The time that it takes for approval of a Social Security Disability Claim depends on which stage in the process your claim is approved. At the initial Application Stage, the average time from filing the initial application through the date of payment was 120 days in 2019. At the Reconsideration Stage, the average time from filing the reconsideration until payment was 103 days in 2018. At the hearing level, the average time from filing the request for hearing until final disposition was 500 days nationwide. In Texas, the average was 406 days. So, if your claim is approved after initial application, reconsideration and a hearing, the average time can be approximately 723 days.