Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, pays benefits to a disabled person who has worked and paid Social Security taxes for sufficient periods. Americans should learn their Social Security disability rights and how to apply for SSDI. Help from a Social Security disability expert such as a lawyer will streamline the potentially lengthy SSDI process.
SSDI applicants must complete several documents and provide medical information. A Social Security Administration (SSA) representative will review this information and decide whether the applicant meets the SSA definition of disability for the stated medical reason. The typical waiting period for receiving a disability claim decision is three to five months. Time frame varies based on the nature of the disability, how quickly medical information is provided, and whether a supplemental medical examination is required.
A Social Security disability attorney helps a client with application preparation and submission of medical documents. Applicants authorize their attorneys to deal directly with SSA on their behalf. However, applicants are also entitled to check their application status online through the SSA website. Details provided include date the application was received, address of the office assigned to process the application, and whether requests for additional documents have been made.
SSDI benefits feature a five-month waiting period. This ensures that SSA does not pay benefits to individuals who are not suffering from long-term disabilities. SSDI benefits are paid beginning on the sixth full month following the date of disability and are not retroactive to the waiting period. Benefits are based on lifetime earnings before the disability began, not the severity of the disability. When individuals become eligible for SSDI benefits, they are automatically enrolled in Medicare. They will receive Medicare beginning 24 months from the month they were entitled to receive disability benefits.
Disability benefits are paid in the month following the month in which the benefit was earned. Payment date is determined by birthday and if a disabled worker also receives Social Security benefits as a spouse, the birthday of the individual who receives payment first determines payment date. Disability benefits will continue for as long as the medical condition does not improve and the individual cannot work.
If an SSDI claim is denied, the applicant may file a Social Security disability appeal. The appeal process has four levels: reconsideration, hearing, an appeals council decision that can take up to one year, and Federal District Court review. When faced with appealing an SSDI decision, retaining a Social Security disability lawyer is recommended.