Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Income (SSI) provide financial support when disability prevents you from working. When a physical or mental impairment keeps you from performing substantial work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays you benefits through SSDI or SSI.
How Does the System Work?
The system works like this: As a working individual, you pay into Social Security through deductions taken from your paycheck. After contributing payroll taxes for a designated number of years (based on your age), you are considered insured for SSDI purposes. To qualify for SSI, your income and assets must fall within the program’s limits.
When a disability prevents you from “substantial gainful activity”, you become eligible for one of these two programs. You apply for SSDI and SSI through an online application, in person at the Social Security office or through a disability representative. The application presents your case to an SSA representative with documentation to prove your claim.
A decision is made to approve or deny your application. If approved, you receive monthly benefit payments. If denied, you can appeal the decision. A disability representative helps file the right documentation on time to get the best possible results. In other words, hiring experienced advocate ensures you get approved and receive the full benefits you deserve.
Are You Eligible?
The following criteria must be met to qualify for SSDI or SSI. You:
— Paid Social Security payroll taxes for the designated number of years
— Fall under SSI income and asset limits
— Are unable to work a substantial amount of time (earning less than $1,180 per month)
— Experience a physical or mental condition expected to last a year or result in death
— Meet medical requirements for Social Security’s definition of disability
— Complete application and provide documentation by the stated deadlines
However, completing these steps does not guarantee benefits. A SSA representative considers your work history over the last 15 years, your current medical condition and its impact on your ability to work before rendering a decision.
Applying for Social Security benefits as soon as possible is recommended as it takes several months to process a claim. If you receive a denial letter and decide to appeal, the timeline grows. Every month which ticks by is one more month on limited income. While you may be eligible for back pay, this fact does little to pay your day-to-day expenses while you wait.
What Documentation is Required?
Providing the right documentation and completing your application on time speeds up the process. Delays result from missing documentation. Take the time to fully complete the application and gather all necessary documentation, including:
— Your Social Security card and birth certificate
— Spouse’s Social Security number and birth certificate
— Social Security numbers and birth certificates for children (if you request benefits for them)
— Marriage certificate
— Military discharge papers
— Recent W-2 forms or tax return
— Medical records and treatment dates from all medical professionals
— Laboratory and test results
— Contact information for your doctors, treatment centers and hospitals
— Names and dosages of any medications you take
— Contact information for employers and your job responsibilities over 15 years
When dealing with a disability and its treatment, decreased income and gathering this paperwork, becoming overwhelmed is common. The SSA recognizes your need for support and wants to help. They allow an advocate or representative to assist you in gathering documentation and to speak on your behalf at hearings.
Getting it Together
The SSA wants to see you get the benefits you deserve. SSDI and SSI programs are setup to ease the financial burden of those facing disability. However, the system may seem to work against you. Don’t give up. Hire an advocate and find victory in the process.
Contact us today for assistance with your SSDI and SSI needs.