That is because, for the most part, social security disability insurance is intended to help supplement the income of elderly and retired people. Sometimes, however, younger people collect social security too. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a fund to help people who are under the age of 65 and who have been injured or disabled and are unable to work.
Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security disability insurance eligibility can be tricky to understand. There are a lot of different criteria that applicants have to meet, but most of them fall into one of two categories: work and health.
SSDI and Your Work History
In order to be awarded SSDI, you must have worked worked and contributed to the social security fund.
If you have worked, you will have received at least one report from the Social Security Administration (SSA) that lists things like work credits and monthly payments.
For every year that you work, you earn up to four work credits. The number of credits you are required to accumulate before you can claim SSDI depends on your age when you apply, though there are exceptions to the rule: namely, those who become disabled but haven’t worked long enough, may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if their incomes and assets are within the eligibility limits.
SSDI and Your Health
Qualifying for SSDI means proving that your disability is long-term, severe and total.
- Long-term means that the disability/condition has been present for a minimum of twelve months.
- Severe means that the disability must get in the way of your being able to do your job.
- Total means that the disability/condition has kept you from being able to do “substantial gainful activity” for at least a year.
- Substantial gainful activity is defined as any activity or job that brings in at least $1070 per month for seeing people and $1800 for blind people. You can find a list of qualifying conditions here.
When Did You Become Disabled?
The date on which you became disabled is very important. During the application process, that date is called your Alleged Onset Date (AOD).
It is important to know your AOD because it will determine the date on which you are eligible to apply for and start receiving benefits. If you get approved, that, in turn; determines the amount of your first benefit check.
Be Prepared to Wait
Even if you are approved for Social Security disability insurance benefits, you won’t start getting checks right away.
Even those who get instant approval (for example, someone who has just received an organ transplant) will have to wait.
The average wait time is five months, but it often takes longer for the first benefit payment to arrive; and many applicants have to wait between six months and a year to get approved. Still more applicants will be forced through at least one appeal, which stretches the approval process out even longer.
The Amount of the First Check
Your first SSDI check is usually larger than the rest, because it usually includes back pay. You are eligible for up to a year’s worth of back pay.
The amount of back pay you receive depends on your approval date and your AOD.
For example, a person with an AOD of January 1, 2014 and an application approval date of February 1, 2016 would receive seven months of back pay. Note that while you can’t apply for benefits until a year after your AOD, you can receive benefits dated back to six months after your AOD.
For those who are forced through an appeal, the first check will include pay backdated to include the time between the sixth month after your AOD and the date of the first check.
Can You Be Denied SSDI?
Yes. In-fact, most first applications are denied.
If it happens to you, don’t get discouraged. You are entitled to appeal the decision and reapply for benefits; but you must request a review – which in most states is called a Request for Reconsideration – within 60 days.
When you submit a Request for Reconsideration, your case goes to another claims examiner. If the second examiner denies your request, you may then ask for a hearing, which will send your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who is employed by the Social Security Administration.
Don’t Go it Alone
The process is long and challenging. It requires a thick skin and a good bit of resolve. While your intent is good, many have tried to game the system. As a result, caseworkers and reviewers are trained to look for reasons to deny rather than approve, which is just one of the reasons to get help from a law firm with experienced Social Security attorneys on-staff.