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American Bar Association
National Association of Disability Representatives
What you need to know
Many people suffer from disabilities that greatly affect their everyday lives, making it difficult to work or perform regular daily activities. This is not something we plan out, but it does happen which is why benefits are available through social security. You may qualify for benefits if you have a diagnosed medical disability that is expected to last longer than 12 months.
Navigating the world of Social Security can be a confusing and frustrating process for anyone. If you are disabled and in need of assistance, it may seem like they have purposely made it difficult for you to find answers and get the help you need. Understanding the different programs and knowing if you qualify is an important first step to getting your claim approved. The National Disability Network makes it easy for you to learn about the options you have with social security.
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are services managed by the Social Security Administration, and both are aimed at helping disabled individuals with financial assistance. However, beyond those similarities, the programs are quite different.
SSI was created to help individuals who have very limited financial assets and may have a difficult time paying for basic necessities due to disability or blindness.
SSDI, on the other hand, is an earned benefit, or entitlement program, that is available to individuals under the age of 65 who are deemed too disabled to work. Because it is an earned benefit, the amount each individual may receive from SSDI is dependent upon their earnings record – the more income an individual previously earned, the higher their benefit will be. By contrast, SSI is a relatively fixed benefit and may actually be reduced if the recipient receives other income.
Who qualifies for Social Security Disability?
Anyone under the age of 65 who has paid into Social Security for 5 out of the last 10 years may qualify for SSDI. Many award recipients are between the ages of 50 and 63.
All applicants for SSDI must have a medically diagnosed disability, which prevents them from working, even at a reduced capacity, for at least 12 months. If you are working and your gross earnings are more than $1,350 per month you may not be eligible for SSDI benefits.
As part of the application process, you may be required to submit medical records verifying your condition. Not all medical conditions will qualify you for SSDI.
How can I make sure my claim is accepted?
Unfortunately, the acceptance rates for SSDI can vary widely depending on where you live. Nationally, the acceptance rate has decreased almost every year since 2001, and the total number of individuals receiving benefits has also been reduced in recent years. Meanwhile, the termination rate for SSDI benefits has increased steadily since 2011. The most common reason claims are denied is because information is entered incorrectly. This can be the result of misunderstanding the question or form, or simply due to the length and time it takes to complete the application. In either case, a small mistake or omission can be the difference between an acceptance and a denial. However, the chances of your claim being approved may increase with the help of an attorney. The American Disability Network is here to help you though this process.
What should you do if Your Social Security Disability Claim is denied?
Many social security disability claims are denied at first, and there are a few options of how to move forward if your claim was denied. The best way to move forward is to appeal your case, instead of re-applying. This prevents you from having to file claims one after the other, when you are unsure of the reason your claim was denied. An attorney can help you file the correct appeal and represent you in front of SSA.
Why is a Claim Denied?
Most times, a social security disability claim is denied for the following reasons:
- The claim is not backed up by enough medical documentation
- The medical evidence does not meet the disability requirements to make the claim
- Errors in the application
How do you Appeal a Denied Claim?
If your claim has been denied, it’s best to seek legal help before beginning the appeal process. Your chances of receiving benefits increase greatly if you hire a social security disability attorney. Many people believe that hiring an attorney will cost them more money than it’s worth and don’t even consider it. However, social security disability attorneys will only be paid a percentage of the benefits you receive, and they don’t get paid if you don’t receive benefits.
To increase your chances of receiving social security disability benefits, an attorney can help appeal your claim if it was denied at first.