Applying for Social Security disability can be complicated. A diagnosis is not enough to qualify for benefits. To receive disability benefits, you must meet the strict definition of “disability.” The Social Security Administration will assess your claim using these five questions, evaluating your answers against certain medical criteria for impairments.
There are two main benefits administered by the federal Social Security Administration (SSA): Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The main difference is that SSI is based on age/disability and income, while SSDI is based on disability and work credits.
- Supplemental security income (SSI): SSI provides basic financial assistance to individuals with disabilities (regardless of age) and older persons.
- Social Security disability insurance (SSDI): SSDI is paid to people who are disabled and have a qualifying work history. You can apply for SSDI at any age.
In general, disability benefits are paid out to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a severe or total disability. There are income caps. If you earn more than $1,310 each month (or $2,190 per month for the statutorily blind), then you cannot collect disability benefits.
Making a Social Security Disability Benefits Application
It’s a good idea to get organized before you start your application because you’ll be required to provide significant proof and documentation of your medical condition. The Social Security Administration has put together a checklist of the information you will need to complete the application.
You have several options for how you can apply for benefits. If you’re an adult with a disability, you can apply online for SSDI. You cannot apply online for benefits for a disabled child under age 18 or for a nondisabled senior aged 65 or older. Everyone can apply by telephone at 800-772-1213. Due to the pandemic, the SSA has changed its operations, so many local Social Security offices are not available for in-person appointments unless there is a “dire need.”
Generally, an application takes an average of three to five months to be processed from the date of application. Appeals can take longer.
Where to Turn If You Need Help With Your SSDI or SSI Application
If you have any questions or need help with your application, you can ask your friends or family for help. But you may also wish to have someone appointed as an authorized representative using a Form SSA-1696.
A representative can help you navigate the Social Security disability process, and they can also attend any interviews, conferences, and hearings with you. If your claim is denied and you have to ask for a reconsideration or appeal, a representative can be a useful guide as well. But you may also want to retain legal counsel if you aren’t successful with your claim.
At Hunter & Everage, we can help you file a claim for your Social Security disability benefits and help you through the claims process. Our experienced lawyers in Richmond, Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina have years of experience working on disability benefits matters. Give us a call and let’s discuss how we can help you.