When you’re not of age to qualify for Social Security benefits, but must stop working due to disability or a qualifying health reason, what are your options? Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI for short, is an important benefit. However, not everyone qualifies. Learn more about how SSDI works.
What Are the Qualifying Conditions and Illnesses?
SSDI offers a monthly stipend to help cover your household expenses when you’re unable to work. You must have a qualifying condition or illness that prevents you from lifting, remembering, sitting, standing, or walking. You must also provide your doctor’s contact information. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) goes over your application, the workers must collect proof that you cannot hold a job.
In most cases, you must have had the condition for 12 months or longer before benefits kick in. However, there are exceptions known as “compassionate allowances” for conditions like acute leukemia, Aphasia, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and pancreatic cancer.
You Must Have Worked Enough
The only way to qualify for SSDI is if you’ve been employed and earned enough work credits. In 2022, you get one credit for every $1,510 in wages. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year. For SSDI benefits, you must have 40 work credits. Of those, 20 must have been earned within the past decade.
How Much Do You Get?
How much do you get if you can’t work due to your disability or health, and aren’t old enough to claim Social Security retirement benefits? The SSA uses a formula that takes your average monthly income over the years you’ve been working (since the age of 22). Then, adjust for historical wage growth to calculate your Personal Insurance Amount, which is your full retirement benefit.
SSDI is often the retirement benefit for most of your highest-paying years of income. It’s not going to be the amount you would have received if you could work all the way to full retirement age. In 2022, the average SSDI benefit is $1,223. The maximum benefit is $3,345.
Applying for SSDI
The application process can be challenging. You need to print out the SSA’s Checklist for Online Adult Disability Application. This helps you gather the information you’ll need to apply.
Fill out and submit the application, and wait for an answer. You may need to provide additional information, which is why the checklist is extremely helpful. Once the application is accepted, it’s forwarded to your state’s SSA offices for a decision. In all, the process can take longer than people expect.
You will get a letter in the mail with the determination. If the application is denied, which happens more often than you might think, read through the reasons for the denial. You can appeal a decision as long as 60 days haven’t passed.
Work With an SSDI Elder Law Expert
An SSDI attorney is the expert you need to help you apply correctly the first time. Talk to an SSDI attorney to have an expert help fill out the application. They can ensure the necessary information is included. You will know that you definitely qualify and aren’t overlooking any reasons you’d be denied.