What is SSDI?
If you have become disabled or suffer from a condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, for 12 or more months, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federally-funded program designed to provide you with permanent compensation. You pay into this program every time social security is deducted from your paycheck. The program is designed to provide you with income if you suffer a permanent medical disability through injury or otherwise.
If approved for benefits, other members of your family may also qualify under your claim. Members of your family can receive up to 180% of the total amount you receive.
Do I Qualify?
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked and ‘paid-in’ to the Social Security system for a minimum period of time. Depending on your age, this period could be for as little as six months, but the normal amount of time you have to have been paying social security taxes is for 5 of the last 10 years.
Next, you must prove to the Social Security Administration that you have a medical disability that prevents you from working. Medical evidence, physician testimony, and other forms of proof are necessary to receive an award.
The amount of time and paperwork necessary to receive benefits can be dramatic. Therefore, the Social Security Administration has come up with a way for a claimant who is likely to receive an award to start receiving payments as soon as possible. Called the Compassionate Allowance, this program lists certain medical conditions, along with detailed descriptions of the symptoms and diagnosis. If your disability falls into one of these categories, you may begin receiving benefits immediately while your case is working its way through the system.
What is the Process?
The Social Security Administration provides you with many different ways to apply for SSDI (by mail, the internet, in person). Once you have applied, it can take many months to hear back as to whether your claim will be approved or denied.
If denied, you now must go through the appeals process, which includes the reconsideration stage, and the hearing stage. If you are still denied benefits at that point, you may file a lawsuit in federal district court.
Do I need a SSDI Attorney?
While you may file your case and attempt to get benefits on your own, it may not be a good idea. Only 36% of all SSDI cases are approved initially. That means two out of three cases are denied. At that point, the appeals process begins. An experienced SSDI attorney knows how to navigate the complicated system and make sure you have met all the necessary requirements in order to win your case. Federal law limits the amount an attorney may charge, and your attorney will take his or her fee from the payments you receive, so there should be no out-of-pocket expense for you.