Recently on our disability forum a user asked, I am unable to work. I have heard that the federal government provides some type of long-term disability benefit. Can you provide me with general information about this program and answers to to the most common disability questions?
Most Common Disability Questions
Many workers have not adequately prepared for what might happen if they become disabled and they are unable to work. Below are the five most common disability questions.
What is SSDI?
One of the most common disability questions is: What is SSDI? Social Security Disability Insurance or SSDI is a federal benefits program that provides monthly cash benefits to disabled workers and their families. SSDI is currently provided to an estimated 11 million people, which includes disabled workers, their spouses, and their children. The average monthly payout is $1,150 per month.
How do I qualify for SSDI benefits?
Not all workers qualify for SSDI benefits. In fact, to qualify you must have worked, paid employment taxes, and have earned sufficient work credits to be considered insured, have a condition which is expected to last for at least 12 continuous months, not currently be working or making too much money, have a condition which is considered severe, and meet other citizenship requirements.
How does the SSA make their disability determination?
The Social Security Administration relies almost entirely on a claimants medical information and medical records to determine whether a claimant is disabled. Before reviewing the claimants medical records, however, the SSA will first review a claimants nonmedical requirements. Specifically, they will determine whether a claimant is insured for SSDI benefits and whether they are currently working and earning too much money to be considered disabled.
Assuming the claimant meets the nonmedical requirements, the SSA will proceed through a 5-Step Sequential Evaluation process to determine if the claimant meets the statutory definition of disabled. Specifically, whether or not the claimant is able to engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that is expected to result in death, or that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.
What happens if I am denied SSDI benefits?
Millions of workers apply for SSDI benefits each year. Unfortunately, up to 70% of first-time disability applicants are denied benefits. The good news is many claimants may file an appeal within 60 days of the denial letter and challenge the disability denial.
The first step in the disability appeals process is to file a reconsideration. The second step is to request a hearing. Most claimants who decide to file an appeal should talk to a disability lawyer and find out the best steps to take to win their claim.
What if I never win SSDI benefits?
Thousands of disability applicants will never win SSDI benefits. For example, some claimants have not worked and paid taxes so they are not insured for SSDI benefits. Other claimants, however, simply lack strong medical documentation to prove they are disabled. Still other claimants apply and are working and making too much money to be approved.
Before you give up on winning benefits, make sure you understand why your case has been denied.