Social Security Disability in a Nutshell
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal insurance program of the United States government. It is managed by the Social Security Administration and is funded by a payroll tax. SSDI is designed to provide income to people who are unable to work because of a disability.
In order for you to qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working.
- Your condition must be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death
- You must be under the age of 65
- You must have worked 5 out of the last 10 years (with a few exceptions.)
If you think that you meet the qualifications for SSDI, then you will need to fill out an SSDI application. This application can be filled out online at www.socialsecurity.gov or you can fill out the application over the phone or in person at your local Social Security office.
Once you have filled out the application for SSDI, the Social Security Administration will review your application and will make sure you meet the age requirement and the work history requirement. If everything looks good, the Social Security Administration will then send your application to another government agency called the Disability Determination Services (DDS). The DDS specializes in making medical determinations for disability claims.
At the DDS office, your claim will be assigned to a disability examiner. The examiner will request your medical records from all the treatment sources that you listed on your SSDI application (hospitals, clinics, doctors, etc...). Once the examiner has obtained all of your medical records, he/she will consult with a physician and will make a decision to the following questions:
- Do you meet the Social Security's definition of disabled
- Does the disability prevent you from doing the type of work required in your past jobs
- Are you able to perform work in another field that would allow you to earn an income
Based on the decisions made by the DDS examine, your claim for SSDI will either be approved or denied.
The quality of your medical records is the most important factor in determining your qualification for SSDI benefits. It is important that your medical records be detailed and current.
If your application for Social Security Disability Insurance is denied, you will have 60 days to appeal the decision, and if your appeal is denied, you can request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
Unfortunately, most initial applications are denied (about 70% of them.) It is important not to get discouraged if your claim is denied. Obtaining Social Security Disability benefits can be a very long and stressful process. However, the disability award is retroactive to the proven date of disability. You should consider hiring a qualified disability attorney to handle your SSDI claim for you. Statistically, you have a better chance at winning your claim when you are represented by a Social Security lawyer.