Becoming disabled is something most people do not want to think about, but by having a plan, you can ensure that you receive all the benefits that are available to you.
Far from a tragic rarity, disability is actually a wide-spread occurrence, with new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that as many as 1 in 5 Americans report having a disability.
Disability is defined by the Social Security Administration as an inability to work as a result of a medical condition expected to last more than a year or that may result in death. Workers seeking Social Security disability benefits must meet two criteria related to earnings.
The first is the "recent work" test, which measures the amount of working time you must have accumulated during the period immediately prior to becoming disabled. The length of this period of time is determined based on your age.
The second qualification for disability benefits is the "duration of work" test. This test measures the cumulative amount of time you must have work prior to becoming disabled, and is also based on your age.
If you meet both of these qualifications, you should seek disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. You should begin this process as soon as possible after becoming disabled. The application process involves multiple steps and can take some time to complete and begin receiving payments. In general, it can take between three and five months to complete the application review.
Your first stop in applying for Social Security disability benefits should be www.socialsecurity.gov/disability. At this site you will find claim forms and contact information to assist you in the application process.
The first form you should complete is the Disability Report. You can submit this form online or you can mail it to your local Social Security office.
Additionally, you should provide identification documents and information related to your medical condition. These documents are listed in detail on the Social Security Administration Web site. You may not be able to provide all of this information at once, but it is best to provide as much information as you have up front.
Once your application is received, the Social Security Administration will assist you in locating any remaining documentation they need. When you have submitted all the necessary paperwork, your case is reviewed by the Social Security Administration. They will confirm that you meet the basic requirements for disability. As soon as this is determined, they will pass your request to the Disability Determination Services office for your state. This state agency will make the final determination of your eligibility for disability benefits based on your medical condition and its impact on your ability to perform work-related activities.
If your claim is approved, you will receive your first payment for the sixth month following the beginning of your disability. Disability payments are made in arrears, that is the payment is made in the month following the month it covers. The amount of the disability payment will be based on your estimated lifetime earnings and will be determined by the Social Security Administration.