What is SSDI? (Social Security Disability Insurance)

When a disability renders you unable to work, one of the many things you need to do is apply for disability. If you have a form of disability through your workplace, that will likely be your first option. But if you have been out of work for an extended period, and no longer have that disability insurance, there is another option available. SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is available to you if you have a work history.

elderly couple with Social Security Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance Through Social Security

This program is intended for individuals who have a work history and have accrued enough credits through employment to qualify. It is paid from the same program that pays retirement benefits to older workers who have retired. SSDI provides a monthly income to those who are rendered unable to work due to a long-term or disabling medical condition.

To be eligible, you must have contributed to SSDI through payroll tax deductions through employment that is covered by Social Security. You must also have worked recently enough and long enough in order to qualify.

SSDI is different from SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, which is a benefit payment for low-income individuals with little or no work history. However, some individuals could be eligible for both SSDI and SSI under certain conditions.

How To Qualify For SSDI

An individual applying for SSDI must be unable to work due to a disability. Social Security has a narrow definition of “disability.” A person’s medical condition (physical or mental) must be expected to last at least one year, or result in the applicant’s death. As a result, SSDI is not intended for short-term or partial disability.

SSDI qualification is based on an individual’s work history, and the monthly benefit is based on average lifetime earnings from employment that is covered by Social Security. The benefit is calculated based on the number of calendar quarters the applicant worked, and at which age the disability began.

Another condition is whether you can engage in Substantial Gainful Activity, or are not able to do the type of work you did before or any other type of work due to your disabling medical condition.
There are slightly different eligibility requirements for people who are blind, veterans, children with disabilities, and widows or widowers of workers.

Recipients must be U.S. citizens or have a lawful alien status if they were born outside of the US.

Filing An Application

You’ll need to gather some records before you begin your application. Start with:

• Your Social Security card

• Contact information from your health care providers, including many doctors, and the dates of your appointments

• A list of all medications, names, and dosages

• Treatment records

• Results from all laboratory and diagnostic tests

• Your most recent W2 form, or last year’s tax return if you were self-employed

• Bank account information

• If your spouse also qualifies, your marriage certificate or other proof of marriage

• For family members who also qualify for benefits, Social Security numbers and proof of age for each

You should apply as soon as you become disabled. Since it takes time to begin receiving benefits, you should start the process immediately. You should have all your proof and information about your condition before you begin.

Prior to filing your SSDI claim, you should visit your physician and explain what you plan to do. If your physician does not agree that you are disabled, his or her assessment could harm your claim. If your own doctor will not support your claim, you may consider finding another doctor or medical professional who does.

However, if your physician does agree, it’s also important to follow his or her medical advice. Not making scheduled appointments and failing to follow treatment protocols may make your claim look fraudulent.

Many applications for SSDI are rejected on the first try. It’s important that you appeal this decision so as not to lose your right to do so.

It’s also a good idea to work with a disability lawyer who understands SSDI and how to complete an application correctly. You’ll have a better chance of approval on the first application, or on appeal.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your Disability Claim

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

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