Social Security Disability Insurance: Benefits, How to Apply, and More

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program administered through the Social Security Administration, providing a needed financial lifeline to people with a permanent or long-term physical or mental disability. The program is funded through payroll taxes, and through SSDI, qualifying individuals can receive benefits in the form of monthly payments–which can be counted on for an income each month. In addition, SSDI includes other benefits, such as Medicare and Social Security survivors’ benefits, which can provide additional protection against the hardship of a disability-related loss of income. While the SSDI application process can be lengthy and arduous, the benefits of acceptance into the program can be invaluable for many individuals with disabilities. This article will cover the basics of SSDI, focusing on eligibility requirements, the application process, and additional benefits.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program created by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide financial assistance to those with a disability that prevents them from working or will do so for an extended period of time. Eligible individuals can receive payments from the SSDI program to help them meet living expenses and medical costs. This money is funded by the Social Security payroll taxes that are deducted from each American worker’s paychecks.

To qualify for SSDI, an individual must have worked long enough and recently enough to have a certain number of work credits, accrued through Social Security taxes paid into the system. An individual must also have a disability that is severe enough that they are unable to perform substantial gainful activity—income generated from employment must not exceed a certain level.

In addition, SSDI applicants must meet the SSA’s five-month “disability waiting period.” An individual who is approved for SSDI will not receive benefits for any five-month period prior to when the disability was first documented.

Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

To be eligible for SSDI benefits, applicants must be completely and permanently disabled, or the disability must last at least 12 months. In addition, applicants must meet certain medical criteria, as outlined by the Social Security Administration. Generally, in order to qualify for disability benefits, the disability must meet one of the following conditions:

• It must prevent the individual from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA);

• It must meet the definition of one of the listed impairments in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments; or

• A combination of several impairments must be of such severity that together they are the equivalent of one of these listed impairments.

In addition to meeting medical criteria, applicants must also meet certain work credits requirements. For example, someone under age 24 must have earned at least 6 work credits in the three years prior to the application date, while someone over age 24 must have earned up to 20 work credits in the 10 years prior to application.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits

When approved for SSDI, benefits depend on how much the individual has paid into Social Security. Generally, individuals are eligible for a monthly payment known as a “primary insurance amount” (PIA). The PIA is determined by a formula that takes into account the average lifetime wages the applicant earned before becoming disabled, as well as their years of work history.

In addition, those approved for SSDI may also be eligible for other benefits, such as Medicare, a health insurance program that covers medical costs including hospital stays, doctor visits, and prescription drugs. Those eligible typically become eligible for Medicare 24 months after approved for SSDI. SSDI recipients may also qualify for Social Security survivors’ benefits, such as survivor’s benefits paid to a deceased worker’s spouse or minor children.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The application process for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be complicated and time-consuming. In order to begin the process, individuals must complete an application that can be found on the Social Security Administration’s website. It is important for applicants to be as thorough and accurate as possible, as incomplete or inaccurate applications will most likely be rejected.

The SSDI application requires information about an individual’s financial situation, medical history, and employment history. In addition, applicants will need to provide evidence that demonstrates their disability. This can include medical records, lab and test results, or medical opinions from trusted medical professionals.

After submitting the application, applicants may be asked to attend a disability interview with a disability specialist. This may involve traveling to a local Social Security office, or submitting an online or telephone interview. During the interview, applicants will be asked additional questions designed to better understand their condition and determine eligibility.

Additional Benefits

In addition to the monthly and short-term financial assistance available through the SSDI program, there are also several other benefits and programs available to SSDI recipients.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): SSI is a program designed to provide financial assistance to those with limited income and resources. SSI recipients may receive monthly payments, typically in the form of a check, to help cover living expenses. In addition, they could also be eligible for Medicaid, which covers medical treatment and services.

Vocational Rehabilitation (VR): VR is a program that helps individuals with disabilities to achieve independence and become self-supporting through finding and maintaining employment. Services provided through VR can include job placement help, job exploration, counseling, job training, and education.

Final Thoughts

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides an important financial lifeline for those with permanent or long-term disabilities. For those who qualify, the financial assistance offered through the program can be invaluable, helping to prevent financial hardship. The SSDI application process can be lengthy and complicated, but the outcome can be worth it for those in need. In addition, there are numerous additional benefits available, such as Social Security survivors’benefits, Supplemental Security Income, and Vocational Rehabilitation, which can make all the difference in helping individuals with disabilities to get back on their feet.