Social Security Disability Insurance

Whether you are working behind a desk or working at a job that requires lifting or carrying, going to work each day and regularly performing the same tasks is something most people take for granted. But, what if a sudden illness or injury made it impossible to work and earn money to support yourself and your family? Though it’s a possibility most people don’t want to think about, there is a 1 in 4 chance that a 20 year-old worker will become disabled before they reach full retirement age. Fortunately, there is a government program to assist workers who become disabled.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

Most workers are familiar with Social Security through the benefits they will receive when they retire. A worker can start collecting some Social Security benefits as early as age 62, though full benefits can only be collected around 67 years old. These benefits are funded through Social Security taxes (FICA) that are automatically deducted from each paycheck.

Social Security taxes also fund Disability Insurance to help workers who become disabled and can no longer perform the activities of their job, and are unable to perform a different kind of job, for at least one year. These benefits, like Social Security’s retirement benefits, are earned through the applicant’s work history and contributions made to the program through the taxes paid. The payments are to help the worker compensate for their lost income from work and take care of their basic needs.

What are the requirements to receive SSDI?

A worker needs to have a minimum number of credits earned through Social Security. A worker can accumulate a maximum of four credits per year. The amount required to earn a credit changes from year to year. For example, in 2022, in order to earn four credits, a worker has to make $6040. To collect Social Security Disability Insurance, a worker must have 40 credits, with 20 of those credits earned within the last 10 years before they became disabled. However, if a younger worker becomes disabled, they may be able to collect payments with fewer credits.

How much are the payments?

In 2024, the average monthly payment for Social Security Disability Insurance was $1,537 and the maximum benefit is $3,822/month.

Can family members also receive payments?

Some family members of the applicant may be eligible to receive payments. Each qualifying family member may receive 50% of the amount of the applicant’s payment up to a certain limit. Generally, that is 150% to 180% of the applicant’s benefit payment.

The spouse of a disabled worker may be eligible for payments if they are age 62 or older, or at any age if they are caring for a child under the age of 16, or under the age of 22 if they have a disability.

A divorced spouse can also be eligible if they are over age 62, unmarried, married to the applicant for at least 10 years, and not eligible for a higher Social Security payment based on someone else’s work history.

A child of the applicant (biological child, adopted child, stepchild, or dependent grandchild) may be able to receive payments. They must be unmarried and under age 18. If they are age 19, they must be a full-time student up to grade 12. They can be older if they have a disability that started before age 22.

Does Social Security Disability Insurance pay partial disability?

No. Unlike some state sponsored programs and the military, a worker cannot receive payments from Social Security for partial disability. The disabling condition must prevent the worker from performing any kind of job activities.

What is a qualifying condition?

The medical condition preventing the applicant from working must be on the list of the conditions approved by the Social Security Administration. These conditions can be physical or mental and must be severe enough to prevent someone from working.

What is the application process?

Applications can be made online, by phone, or in person. For all forms of applications, the applicant provides their personal details including their Social Security number, address, and names and dates of birth of their spouse and children. A detailed education and work history is required along with the dates of employment, any employers’ contact details, and an explanation of how the disabling condition affects the applicant’s work duties. Most importantly, medical evidence to support the claim must be submitted, such as records of doctor and hospital visits, any tests and treatment results, and any prescription drugs you were prescribed.

What if my application is denied?

The Social Security Administration may deny a claim. In that case, the applicant can appeal the decision, but the appeal must be made within 60 days. If the 60 days lapses, the applicant may lose their ability to have their claim reviewed.

The first step in the appeals process is reconsideration. During a reconsideration, an impartial person at the Social Security Administration who was not a part of making the first decision about your application (or at the state Disability Determination Services if the appeal is about the disability itself) will review the application. All of the evidence will be reconsidered in addition to any new evidence that is provided. The applicant is notified by a letter explaining the decision.

If the applicant disagrees with the decision, the next step is a hearing. The hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge who has not had a part in reviewing the application before. The applicant can bring witnesses who can be questioned on their behalf by the judge.

If the applicant does not agree with the judge’s decision at the hearing, the applicant can seek a review by the Social Security Appeals Council.

Who can I turn to for help with my application?

When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance, it is extremely important to have the best legal advice available. There are many steps to the process, and the information you submit has to be 100% complete and accurate. Don’t go through the application process alone, and risk missing out on the benefits you are entitled to. Ensure peace of mind for yourself and your family and contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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