Disability Benefits: How to Apply for Social Security, Who Qualifies, and More

The Social Security Administration provides benefits to nearly 70 million Americans a year. More than 8 million of them receive disability benefits, mostly through Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI.

To qualify for SSDI, you must have been diagnosed with an injury or medical condition that prevents you from working for at least one year or is expected to result in death.

Another form of disability benefit is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, which is administered by Social Security but funded by the Treasury Department. SSI is for people whose financial resources are below certain limits.

Applicants for SSDI or SSI must present considerable medical evidence to support a disability claim. The process can take a long time and usually includes an in-person or telephone interview with a Social Security representative.

Here’s what you need to know to apply for Social Security disability benefits, including what’s available and qualifying conditions.

For more information on social securityknow when checks are issued, how access your benefits online and how pension benefits are calculated.

How do I apply for Social Security disability insurance?

Social Security Disability Application

Less than half of applicants with disabilities are accepted on their first try.

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You must apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. You can apply on lineby calling 800-772-1213 or in person at your local social security office.

Whichever route you take, you’ll want to have the vast Documentation required at your fingertips – including detailed information about your condition and recent work history.

To qualify for disability, you cannot already be receiving Social Security benefits, and you must not have been denied disability benefits within the past 60 days.

When applying, be patient: the majority of disability claims are initially denied and the appeal process can take months or even years to resolve. (Only 193,000 applications out of more than 500,000 applicants were accepted in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Social Security Administration.)

Even getting a preliminary decision on your application takes more than five months on average, according to AARP.

What are the conditions to benefit from the invalidity insurance of the social security?

There is no fixed list of approved handicaps, but the Social Security Blue Bookalso known as the Social Security Disability Assessment, is an online directory of physical and mental health conditions that automatically qualify if you meet strict diagnostic requirements.

For adults, they are broadly divided into 14 categories.

  • Blood disorders such as sickle cell disease, thrombosis and hemophilia
  • Cancerincluding leukemia, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, breast cancer and prostate cancer
  • Cardiovascular illnesses, such as congenital heart disease and heart failure
  • Cognitive and mental health problems, such as bipolar disorder, dementia, depression, and intellectual disabilities
  • Congenital disorders that affect multiple bodily systems, such as non-mosaic Down syndrome
  • Digestive System Diseases, such as bowel or liver disease
  • Endocrine Disorders, such as diabetes, thyroid disease, hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia
  • Genitourinary disorders such as chronic kidney disease
  • Immune system diseases such as HIV, inflammatory arthritis and lupus
  • Musculoskeletal problems that are congenital or acquired, such as spinal disorders or amputations
  • Neurological Disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury
  • Respiratory diseases, such as asthma, cystic fibrosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Special disorders of the senses and speech, such as hearing, sight and speech disorders
  • Dermatological problems, such as burns, dermatitis and ichthyosis

The same 14 categories are used for children under 18, with the addition of low birth weight and growth retardation. Rather than whether a condition inhibits their ability to work, the test for minors is whether it will cause severe functional limitations for at least a year or is likely to be fatal.

You can still qualify for SSDI or SSI even if your state isn’t in the Blue Book, but you’ll have to argue that it limits your day-to-day functioning.

If your disability means you cannot do the job you were doing before, the Social Security Administration will want to know if there is other work you can do, given your circumstances and skills.

Certain family members of disabled workers may also receive benefits. And adults with disabilities since childhood can benefit from SSDI, based on parents’ employment records.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income?

Approved Social Security Disability Application Form

Although SSDI is a vested benefit based on the Social Security taxes you’ve paid during your career, you can receive SSI payments without ever having worked.

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SSDI and SSI pay benefits to people who the Social Security Administration determines have physical or mental disabilities severe enough to prevent them from engaging in “substantial gainful activity” for at least one year or who should end with their death.

The Social Security Administration generally uses the same medical criteria to determine whether a disability qualifies an adult for SSDI or SSI and perceive the two advantages is allowed.

SSDI is a deserved advantage. As with retirement benefits, this comes from paying social security contributions during your employment. In 2022, the estimated average monthly SSDI benefit was $1,358.

There is a five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits, so payments will not begin until the sixth full month of disability. You will be eligible for Medicare coverage after receiving disability benefits for two years.

SSI, on the other hand, is for Americans with disabilities who have very limited income or assets. It does not come from previous income. In fact, you can receive SSI benefits if you have never worked or paid Social Security taxes.

But your income and assets must not exceed very strict limits: in 2022, the maximum federal SSI payment was $841 per month for an individual and $1,261 for couples receiving SSI jointly. Income above these amounts may disqualify you from receiving benefits.

Other benefits, including workers’ compensation and pension payments, may also affect the amount you receive.

You can start the application process SSDI here and SSI here.

The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.