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.

Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

It’s a conundrum: you’re applying for disability benefits because you can no longer work (or will be soon unable.) But while you’re waiting and trying to qualify, the bills keep coming. You need income and have to work, even though you’re in pain and barely or unable to work. So what’s the solution?

Can You Work While Applying For Disability Benefits?

The short answer is: Yes. You can apply for disability while you’re still working, but there is a limit to how much you can earn. As long as you earn less than $1,310, the 2021 threshold for monthly income, you are able to continue working. For applicants who are legally blind, the limit is $2,190.

However, it’s not quite as simple as that.

Substantial Gainful Activity

One of Social Security’s deciding criteria is SGA or substantial gainful activity. In other words, how much are you working, and how difficult is it for you to work? If you are working part-time and earning the limit or under, and are working your claim you can no longer do, chances are you will not appear “disabled” to the SSA.

SSA will investigate your job, which includes both the type of work you do and how many hours you work in that job. They will also examine how much effort you are putting into the vocation, whether you’re working at a desk answering incoming phone calls or in a trade requiring physical labor (i.e., plumber, electrician, carpenter, etc.)

Chances are that if you do continue to work while waiting for approval, an appeal, or an administrative law judge hearing, your chances of approval will decrease. This is especially true for a part-time position doing jobs for which you are claiming disability.

Unsuccessful Working

You may still qualify for SSDI if you:

  • Stopped working due to your disabling condition
  • Applied for SSDI
  • Returned to work to pay the bills while waiting for SSDI approval
  • Were forced to stop working again due to your disability

This unsuccessful attempt at working means you are still eligible for SSDI, and shows that you made a good faith effort but were prevented by your disability.

Since every case is different, the SSA examines the type of work you were doing, what you may be doing now, and how your disability affects your ability to retain gainful employment.

If you believe you may return to work at some point in the future, you will have the opportunity to work again on a temporary “test” basis. If your condition improves, or things change, you will be able to start working again contingent on your abilities. Should you not be able to return to work, you will not have to reapply for SSDI.

Other Resources

Rather than working, you may be able to locate other resources in your community for help until you begin receiving disability benefits. Consider applying for:

Other options include borrowing or cashing out against a 401K, or borrowing against your home. Your disability lawyer can advise you if you’re considering utilizing assets.

Note that applying for Unemployment may be counter-productive. If you apply for Unemployment, the assumption is that you expect to return to work. You may be required to pay back those Unemployment benefits if you are eventually approved for SSDI.

Call Herren Law For Help With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Claims

If you are planning to apply for SSDI, we invite you to speak with us first, especially if you are still working. The application process is complex, and most are denied on the first try. Most applicants have better success with appeals.

We’re experienced in handling all types of benefit claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they need. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges.

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