Social Security Disability Benefits

Based on a  study by the Social Security Administration (SSA), workers of 20 years of age have about a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled before retirement.

Workers who do receive a disability while they are working may be able to receive financial assistance from the federal government through the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program. The Social Security Income (SSI) program is another option for individuals to receive financial assistance from the Social Security Administration.

Beneficiaries who receive SSDI checks for two uninterrupted years will automatically be enrolled to receive Medicare coverage. Furthermore, after you begin to receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance, you will become eligible to receive work incentives that will encourage you to work while you receive benefits.

Program members will also be granted access to a variety of resources that offer assistance in training, rehabilitation and education required to work. This collective program is sometimes referred to as Ticket to Work.

Who is eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

According to federal regulations, Social Security benefits are made available to individuals who are unable to work for a period lasting at least one year due to a medical condition. As such, individuals who have short-term disabilities or partial disabilities may not be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. In certain circumstances, the family members of SSDI recipients may also be eligible for benefits through the program.

Generally, there are two ways to measure earnings that are used to determine whether or not an applicant can qualify to receive disability benefits. First, there is a test where applicants are required to show their recent work according to the age they were when they first became disabled.

The second eligibility test is based on how much an applicant worked and how much they earned that will be contributed towards their Social Security benefits. Age is also a factor with a lot of influence since 24 and 31 years of age are two eligibility benchmarks for benefits. Unlike other forms of Social Security assistance, beneficiaries do not have to be a senior citizen to qualify for the program.

In most cases, the younger a beneficiary is when they first became disabled, the less amount of years they will need to work in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. For example, individuals who became disabled before they reached 28 years of age may only need to have worked for one year and six months to be considered eligible.

On the other hand, individuals who are 60 years of age will be required to have worked for nine years and six months in order to be eligible for benefits. However, there are other factors that may also influence your SSDI eligibility.

How do I apply for benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance?

If you are hoping to receive benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance, you are recommended to apply as soon as you become disabled. This is because it generally takes around three to five months to completely process an application. The sooner you begin the process, the earlier you will receive your Social Security disability benefits.

Hopeful candidates can apply for Social Security disability benefits in a number of ways including online on the Social Security website or over the phone. Applicants can authorize a qualified individual to represent them when dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA) and any applications. Some of the information that will be requested on the application includes:

  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Birth Certificate.
  • Contact info for an applicant’s past doctors, clinics, hospitals and caseworkers who treated them.
  • Medical records from all past doctors, clinics, hospitals and caseworkers.
  • Names of all of an applicant’s medications and their prescribed dosages.
  • Test and lab results.
  • Employment summaries.
  • A copy of an applicant’s W-2 form or federal tax returns.

Additionally, there may be some forms that you will be required to fill out alongside your standard Social Security disability benefits application. You will need to provide information about your specific medical condition and how it has an impact on your ability to work. Another form will ask you for permission to allow medical professionals to distribute any information they have on your medical status to the SSA.

In certain situations, family members may be eligible to receive health benefits as a part of your disability assistance payments. For example, you may be able to add beneficiaries to your SSDI payments if your spouse is over 62 years of age or if they are caring for one of your children who is disabled or younger than 16 years of age. Furthermore, any of your children who are unmarried and younger than 18, or 19 if they are still enrolled in school), will be eligible for SSDI benefits.

Can anything have an effect on my Social Security disability benefits?

Payments and income that a beneficiary receives from other government programs can reduce how much they are eligible to receive from their Social Security benefits. If you are receiving financial assistance from any of the following programs, you must report it to the Social Security Administration:

  • Workers’ compensation payments.
  • Windfall elimination.
  • Government pension.

There is also a possibility that you can lose access to your Social Security disability benefits if there is an outstanding warrant out for your arrest. The warrant can be for a number of reasons such as flight-escape, escape from custody or flight to avoid confinement or prosecution.

If you are ever to be convicted of a crime, your benefits will be suspended until you are released from confinement. However, if any of your family members are beneficiaries of your SSDI benefits, they will continue to receive those benefits.

Another reason why you may lose eligibility for SSDI benefits would be if you are confined at the expense of the public by a court order. Typically, this occurs after being found not guilty due to insanity or similar occurrences that cause you to be viewed as incompetent for standing trial.