What is SSDI?
SSDI, or Social Security disability insurance, provides income for U.S. workers who have become disabled and are no longer able to engage in substantial gainful activity. SSDI is different from private disability insurance because it is available to anyone who has sufficient work history and is otherwise eligible. And, it’s different from many other types of public benefits because it is not need-based. While too much income from work can disqualify you from receiving SSDI, other types of income are not considered. For instance, you can be the beneficiary of a trust or receive investment income or have significant assets and still be eligible.
There is a five-month waiting period after you become disabled. For most applicants, that period has expired by the time benefits are approved, so monthly payments start soon after approval. You may even receive a lump sum payment for back benefits or retroactive benefits.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
To qualify for SSDI, you must have sufficient work credits. The general requirement is 40 work credits–the same number required for Social Security retirement benefits. You can only earn up to four work credits per year, so reaching this threshold requires that you’ve worked in at least 10 different years. However, younger workers won’t need as many work credits.
If you qualify based on work credits, you must also show that you:
- Can’t engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your medical condition, and
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to result in death
In determining whether you are able to engage in substantial gainful activity, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider both your ability to do the work you did previously and your ability to adapt to another type of work.
Additional Benefits Associated with SSDI
Once you’ve been receiving Social Security disability benefits for two years, you will be eligible for Medicare, regardless of your age. This can be a significant benefit for someone who has ongoing medical needs and no longer has employer-sponsored insurance.
Depending on your circumstances, other members of your family may also qualify for benefits. Spousal benefits are limited to spouses (and some divorced spouses) who are at least 62 years old and don’t have access to a larger amount of benefits based on their own record. But, your minor children may qualify for additional benefits when you receive SSDI.
Get Help with Your SSDI Claim
To secure Social Security disability benefits, you will have to provide substantial proof of your medical condition and the associated limitations. Most initial SSDI applications are denied, and the appeals process can be long and complex. The earlier in the process, you get help from a knowledgeable disability benefits advocate, the better.
To learn more about how Disability Help Group can assist you in putting together the strongest application or appeal possible, call 800-800-3332 or contact us here.