If you suffer from a chronic illness or severe limitation that prevents you from working, you need to apply for SSDI benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance provides monthly payments to people disabled and unable to work. If you suffer from a long-term disabling condition, you may meet the criteria to receive government benefit payments.
The disability application process can be complicated and the requirements are set quite high. Because of this, most people need help with filing for disability payments. Once applications are received the Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability status. When applications are approved, you will start to receive benefits.
Depending on your status, you may be able to apply for your spouse, ex-spouse, or children to also receive disability payments.
In this article, you will find out how to apply for SSDI disability benefits. You will also find out how to keep track of your Social Security disability application status.
Requirements to Qualify for Disability Benefits
Before you apply for SSDI benefits, you have to meet the criteria that the SSA sets out.
According to the US Government Benefits website, there are 2 basic requirements to qualify for SSDI. These are:
- You have a chronic illness or disability that prevents you from working for at least 12 months
- You have worked long enough to accumulate work credits to qualify you for disability payments
The SSA also determines the “Listing of Impairments” with the medical criteria that allow individuals to successfully apply for SSDI.
If you don’t qualify for disability under the SSDI scheme, you may be able to lodge an application for Social Security Income (SSI) payments. These are based on the same types of medical conditions but are a government benefits program for people with low earnings.
How to Apply for SSDI Benefits
If you have a disabling condition that prevents you from working, it is important to make an application as soon as possible. It can up to 6 months to process applications and during this time you won’t receive any payments.
You can also make your “intent to file” known to the SSA, even if you are unsure you will eventually make a claim. This creates a protected filing date and, if your application is successful, you will receive backdated payments from this date. This can help to lessen the financial impact of not receiving income due to a disability.
To increase your chances of a successful application, it is essential to know how to apply. You also may have to help an incapacitated relative or friend to apply for SSDI disability benefits.
Here are the basic steps to apply for SSDI.
1. Medical information
First of all, you need to collect as many related medical documents as you can. This usually involves a discussion with your doctor about your disability. Your physician can also provide you with a written statement about the severity of your medical condition and inability to work.
If you have more than one physician overseeing your health, statements from each of them can boost your chances of a successful application.
2. Financial information and work history
The next requirement is to prove that you have earned enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. Work credits are earned for each quarter in a year where you had “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). Generally, you need 40 work credits to qualify, however, younger persons can qualify with fewer credits.
The work-related documents you need include:
- Your total earnings for the current and previous year
- A list of the jobs you have had in the 15 years before your disability
- Information about any benefits or Worker’s compensation you have received or are currently receiving
- W-2 forms and/or your self-employment tax returns for the previous year
The SSA provides a checklist and starter kit with comprehensive information about all the documents you need before applying.
How to apply for SSDI
You can apply for SSDI online, call the SSA on a toll-free number, or visit your local Social Security office.
Who Can Help with Filing for Disability?
Applying for SSDI can be a complex process for some people. As well as collecting the relevant documents, you may have to attend an interview in person or over the phone.
So, any help you can get with filing for disability will certainly help you feel less stressed. With someone by your side, you will also feel more confident.
If you have a trusted friend or family member, they can help fill out forms online and be present at the SSA interview. You may also be able to ask Social service workers or disability advocates for assistance or advice.
Your doctor or physician may also assist with filing for disability. They will be involved with the application process and the SSA will contact them about your disabling condition.
In some cases, your application has a greater chance of success if you hire a disability lawyer. They have expertise in applying for SSDI disability benefits and can make sure that all your documents are in order. In case your application is rejected, your lawyer can also file a request to reconsider the decision.
How to Check Your Social Security Disability Application Status
Processing SSDI applications can take from 3 to 6 months while the SSA gathers all the necessary information. Generally, you should wait at least one month before checking your SSDI disability application status. This is the length of time it takes to get all your information on file.
There are two ways to check on the progress of your SSDI application status. For most people, the easiest way is to log into their “my Social Security” account online. The other method involves calling the SSA toll-free number or calling in at your local SSA office and speaking to a representative.
Appealing Disability Application Denials
If your application is unsuccessful, it is important not to lose hope and give up. Unfortunately, around 70% of first-time applicants have their initial application rejected.
You can request to have the decision on your original claim reconsidered. In these cases, it is important to review what you submit and include any more information that may affect the case. It is usually best to have an experienced disability lawyer to help with your appeal.
Another SSA representative may review your appeal. Or it may go to an law judge, the Appeals Council, or even to a Federal Court for review.
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