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What Is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSD) provides benefits to workers who become disabled and are no longer able to work. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly cash benefits when the worker is not getting a paycheck because of a disability. If you are not able to work because a severe disability limits your ability to do basic work, you can apply for SSDI benefits. A Social Security disability lawyer can help you with the initial application for SSDI and give you legal advice on the appeals process.

What Is the Difference Between SSI and SSDI?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has four separate benefit programs for individuals with disabilities: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Disabled Widows and Widowers benefits (DWB), and Disabled Adult Child Benefits (DAC). All these conditions require a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of a disability.

There is a difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs. SSDI pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you qualify because of work credits after paying into the Social Security System. SSI benefits are based on financial need, whether you have ever worked. SSI is a federal income supplement program.

Do I Qualify for Disability?

There are two basic requirements for eligibility for SSDI benefits. To qualify, you must:

  • Have worked enough in jobs that are covered by Social Security; and
  • Have a medical condition that qualifies as a Social Security disability.

Work credits are based on total yearly wages or self-employment income. Workers who make enough money can earn up to four credits per year. Generally, workers need 40 credits to qualify for disability (but younger workers may be able to qualify with fewer than 40 credits).

The SSA has a strict definition of disability. You have a qualifying impairment if you are not working, or only earning a limited amount per month. Your medical condition must be considered severe, in that it significantly limits your ability to do basic work functions, like:

  • Walking
  • Standing
  • Lifting
  • Sitting
  • Remembering

Some medical conditions are considered severe enough to qualify. If you do not have one of the listed conditions, the SSA will determine if you qualify because:

  • You cannot work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA);
  • You cannot do the work you did previously or with an adjustment; and
  • Your condition is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

How Do I File a Disability Claim?

You can file a disability claim online, by phone, or by visiting your local SSA office. You should complete the claim process as soon as you can to make sure your benefits without much delay. Before you go through the application process, make sure you understand all the requirements and have all the supporting documents, including medical records and medical evidence.

A disability law firm can help you file your disability claim right the first time, so your claim is not denied. A Social Security disability lawyer can also represent you in a disability hearing or reconsideration before an administrative law judge in federal court.

How Much Can I Get for Disability?

Your disability benefit amount will depend on factors like your income, the number of years you worked, the year of your birth, and your age at disability. The primary insurance amount (PIA) is progressive to make sure low-wage earners can get enough money to provide for themselves. According to the SSA, the average amount for a disabled worker is less than $1,300. SSDI benefits max at a little over $3,100. You can calculate how much you would get for Social Security disability benefits on the SSA website.

What Can I Do if My Disability Claim Is Denied?

Many people have their disability case denied after their initial application. Your claim could be denied because you did not have enough credits to get benefits, or your medical condition does not qualify as disabling. Generally, you can file for a reconsideration within 60 days.

If you are denied on your initial claim, a qualified Social Security disability attorney can provide representation and help you with your claim to make sure you get the Social Security benefits you deserve.

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