Social Security Disability is a program run by the federal government that is designed to help people who become disabled. All employers and employees are required to pay the FICA tax, which is what funds the Social Security and Medicare programs.
Per SSA, Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured”, that means you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
Readers, even if you may not this coverage right now, and I sincerely wish you wouldn’t, but having a preliminary basic knowledge could help you or your loved ones in the time of their need.
So read on.
When you apply for social security disability, you are required to furnish your medical records and then SSA runs through a lengthy check to determine your eligibility.
To start with, you can use Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool to screen your case against the SSA eligibility, you must do it prior to applying for actual payout. This is important as I am told that as much as 70% of applications get rejected by the agency.
If you’re not among those 30% lucky ones, you may need to consider having an experienced attorney who can defend your claim against the SSA decision in an appeals court.
How do I Qualify for Social Security Disability?
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to:
- Demonstrate that you cannot do the work you previously could due to the onset of your disability
- Prove that there is no other work that you can do based on your age, education, and levels of physical and mental fitness. This is called Substantial-Gainful Activity.
- Have worked at a job and paid your FICA taxes.
- Have worked and paid your FICA taxes for a minimum of 5 years, especially if you are under the age of 50.
Doing the Ground Work
- Have a supportive Dr. that can support your claim and certify your disability without a doubt. Even consider switching your Dr, if this is not the case.
- Pre-screen yourself with the BEST tool on SSA site
- Have an attorney to guide you through the process
- Make sure Social Security Disability Insurance is the better alternative than supplemental security income
How do I apply for Social Security Disability?
Before we talk about the process of filing for Social Security Disability, here are a few very important tips that you need to follow to maximize your benefits:
- Firstly, you need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance as soon as you find out that you have a long-term disability.
- It is critical that you inform the SSA office about your intention of filing a Social Security Disability claim as soon as possible – even if you haven’t yet applied for the benefits. This is because your Protective Filing Date is what is used when calculating your benefits back-pay.
Steps of the Application Process
The process of applying for Social Security Disability is a long one, so you need to be patient.
- Application: This is the first step. You can apply online, go to your nearest SSA office or even call the SSA toll-free number 1-800-772-1213. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you can contact the SSA office using the “TTY” number 1-800-325-0778 between 7 am and 7 pm during weekdays. Please ensure that all documents especially medical records and supporting evidence are provided.
Processing of the application form can take from 90 to 120 days. Please remember that only about 30% of claims are approved immediately, so be prepared to appeal your case.
- Reconsideration: In case your initial application is declined, then you have 60 days within which to file an appeal. You will need to ask the SSA for a hearing within these 60 days. This hearing will be held in front of a judge of the administrative law. There are 3 outcomes to this hearing – your claim is approved, sent back to the SSA for review or denied.
This stage of the process can take up to 2 years to complete. However, the good news is that more than 63% of appeals are approved.
- Appeals Council: If your claim is still denied, then you can take your case to the Appeals Council. This is where it really gets tough as less than 2% of appeals at this stage are approved. This stage of the process can take from 6 months to a year to complete.
- Federal District Court: If you still wish to proceed with your Social Security Disability claim, then you need to appeal to the Federal District Court. Again, there are three possible outcomes – approval, denial or your case is sent back to the SSA for further review. About 30% of the cases at this stage win approval.
I am sorry for your condition because of which you need to apply for disability insurance but still all the very best for the application process, may you succeed.