Disability benefits are offered by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs. Though disability is not something most people want to think about, let alone experience, it is important to understand how these programs work.
SSDI is paid to a person with a medical condition that prevents him or her from working. The condition must be expected to last for one year or more or result in death. SSDI is only paid for long-term, full disability. Most SSDI applicants must meet two earnings tests in order to receive benefits. The first test is based on age at date of disability and the second verifies whether the applicant worked long enough in a job covered by Social Security.
An SSDI application may be completed online or over the telephone. The process takes approximately one hour and applicants can schedule an appointment. SSA provides appointment schedulers with a Disability Starter Kit that helps them prepare for the interview. This kit is also available online for those who wish to review it.
SSA recommends applying for disability benefits soon after becoming disabled because it can take three to five months to process the SSDI application. The paperwork and documentation requirements are somewhat complex, causing many to seek Social Security disability help from an expert. A Social Security disability attorney is a common choice because this legal professional knows the requirements and intricacies of SSDI. Lawyers inform clients of their Social Security disability rights and help them navigate the SSDI application process.
The state SSA agency processes the SSDI application and uses a five-step process when making SSDI benefit decisions. This includes reviewing work status, type and severity of the medical condition, and whether the applicant can perform previous or any other type of work. Blind applicants are subject to special rules, which a Social Security disability expert such as an attorney can explain. Once a decision is reached, the applicant is notified via mail. A letter indicating approval includes the benefit amount and date payments will begin.
If a SSDI claim is denied, the letter will provide the reason and explain how to file a Social Security disability appeal, if desired. The appeals process can be long and complex, making it another area where help from a Social Security disability lawyer is recommended. Client and lawyer work together for the most favorable outcome.