If you are suffering from an injury or ailment that prevents you from working, you may be eligible to receive benefits from the Social Security Disability program. While you may not feel thrilled about taking a monthly check from the government as opposed to working, you only qualify for the program if you have paid enough taxes into the Social Security system. You may think of the program as a government insurance policy that you’ve already paid the premiums for. In fact, the technical term for this program is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).
Although your injury may prevent you from returning to work and enjoying other hobbies, utilizing the SSDI can help alleviate some of the financial stress a serious injury may cause.
Who can receive Social Security Disability?
To qualify for SSDI, you must not be able to perform “substantial gainful activity” for at least one year. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines substantial gainful activity as making $1,220 per month for disabled applicants and as earning $2,040 per month for blind applicants in 2019. If you would like to learn more about medical eligibility, the SSA provides an online tool to help you determine the benefits that apply to you.
Work credits and eligibility
As was previously stated, SSDI functions much like an insurance program that you’ve paid for through your taxes. Therefore, you may only qualify for SSDI if you have already sufficiently paid into the program. The way the SSA determines this is through work credits.
You earn work credits based on the taxes you contribute to the Social Security program. The number of work credits that the SSA requires depends on how old you are when you became disabled. How much you must contribute to count for a work credit also changes from year to year. It is best to visit the SSA guidelines or work with a disability attorney to determine your eligibility on the work credit front.
If you do not meet the required number of work credits, but still need help for your disability, you still may apply for Supplement Security Income instead.
The application process and receiving benefits
Because the earliest you will be eligible to receive benefits is after five full months of disability, the SSA suggests that you file for your SSDI the as soon as you as you become disabled. The application process is complex, and errors can lead to denial of benefits. It is beneficial to work with an attorney to submit an application. the application process, the SSA will collect your medical information and use it to determine your disability.
Once you are approved, you will begin receiving backpay for any months after your disability onset date (six months after you’ve been disabled) that your application was under review.