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If you’ve become disabled and are unable to work before you reach retirement age, there’s no need to panic about how you’ll make ends meet. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) exists for this sole purpose. If you qualify for SSDI, this Social Security program will pay you monthly benefits to help cover your cost of living expenses.

Determining Eligibility for Social Security Disability

There are some requirements that must be met in order for you to be eligible to receive SSDI benefits. First and foremost, you must have worked a set number of years at a job (or jobs) in which you paid Social Security (FICA) taxes. A specific number of work credits are required in order to qualify for SSDI benefits; four work credits can be earned per year.

If you fail to meet these requirements when you become disabled, and you have low income and little to no assets, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead.

Work Credits

The number of work credits required to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on the age you were when you became unable to work due to your disability. If you become disabled at the age of 50, for example, you need:

  • 28 work credits, OR
  • To have worked for 7 years
  • At least 5 of those years must have been within the last decade

Medical Eligibility

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability. Only those who have a severe, long-term, total disability are eligible to receive SSDI benefits. To break down the definitions of these terms:

  • Severe means your condition interferes with your ability to perform basic work-related activities.
  • Long-term means your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year.
  • Total Disability means you are unable to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) for at least a year. For instance, if you currently are working and are making more than a certain amount per month ($1,180/month for disabled applicants, $1,970 for blind applicants as of 2018,) the SSA will determine that you’re capable of performing SGA and therefore are not disabled enough to receive SSDI benefits.

Approval for Disability Benefits

If you are approved to receive disability benefits, you will not receive any until you have been disabled for at least 5 complete months, as SSDI has a 5-month waiting period; however, if you are approved immediately for disability benefits (you just underwent major surgery, for instance,) you still will have to wait 5 months to receive your first check. Most people who qualify for SSDI benefits are not approved for anywhere from 6 months to a year. Most people get denied benefits on their first try and have to appeal the decision. If this is the case, you do finally get approved for SSDI benefits, you will be receive disability backpay, which starts with the sixth month after your disability onset date. Once you are all paid up on any backpay the SSA owes you, you will start receiving a disability benefit check every month. You will have to pay taxes on your benefits only if your household income exceeds a certain amount.

Denial of Social Security Disability Benefits

Most people have their SSDI application denied. You have the right to appeal the decision if this is the case. The appeal process will go smoother if you contact a Social Security benefits attorney to help you navigate the review process of the denial. Our Auburn attorneys are skilled at ensuring that our clients receive the disability benefits they are entitled to. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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