Social Security Disability Insurance

Elligibility and application process

The Social Security disability insurance program (sometimes referred to as SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.

  • The Social Security disability insurance program pays benefits to you and certain family members if you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.

Your adult child also may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.

Are You Elligible?

  1. Are You Disabled?

    Social Security uses a five-step process to determine if you are “disabled.”

    1. Are you working?

      If you are working in 2010 and your earnings average more than $1,000 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled. If you are not working, we go to Step 2.

    2. Is your condition "severe"?

      Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered. If it does not, Social Security will find that you are not disabled. If your condition does interfere with basic work-related activities, go to Step 3.

    3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

      For each of the major body systems, Social Security maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, Social Security has to decide if it is of equal severity to a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, Social Security will find that you are disabled. If it is not, then go to Step 4.

      For more information about changes to our disability claims process, visit the Disability Service Improvement website.

    4. Can you do the work you did previously?

      If your condition is severe but not at the same or equal level of severity as a medical condition on the list, then Social Security will determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did previously. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, proceed to Step 5.

    5. Can you do any other type of work?

      If you cannot do the work you did in the past, Social Security will see if you are able to adjust to other work. Social Security considers your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have. If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.

  2. Have You Worked Long Enough?

    In addition to meeting the definition of disability, you must have worked long enough—and recently enough—under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits.

    Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits each year.

    The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

How to Apply

You should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. If you are ready to apply now, you can do so by:

If You are Denied

You can appeal your initial denial.

  1. Reconsideration

    If you disagree with the initial determination, you may request reconsideration by writing to Social Security or by completing a Request for Reconsideration form:

    You must ask in writing for reconsideration within 60 days of the date you receive the written notice of the initial determination. If you ask for reconsideration within 10 days, any payment we are currently making will continue until we make our determination, providing that you continue to meet all other SSI eligibility requirements.

  2. Hearing

    If you are denied Reconsideration, you may request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.

    At this stage, you can ask for an appointment with one of our disability advocates at Molleur Law and we can evaluate you for representation.  We will not provide representation until you have been denied at the Reconsideration stage. 

    You must request a hearing within 60 days after you get the notice of reconsideration determination.  Therefore, it is very important that you contact us immediately after receiving the notice of denial of reconsideration if you would like representation at the Hearing level.  

    If your claim is denied at the Hearing level, you can appeal to the Appeals Counsel and then, if that is denied, to the Federal Court.

     

The above is a brief summary of SSDI benefits, eligibility, and the application and appeals process and is not intended to be a complete and thorough description of the eligibility requirements, application and appeals process, or benefits available under the SSDI programs. For more complete information, please visit http://www.socialsecurity.gov/pgm/links_disability.htm.

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