Around 11 million American are beneficiaries of the social security disability insurance program or the SSDI. Established in 1956, the SSDI program’s sole aim was to cushion people with disabilities with financial assistance. Most people confuse SSDI programs with supplemental security income disability or SSID programs, which also caters to people with disabilities.
Although both programs are under the social security administration, they are not the same. One thing they have in common, however, is the stringent criteria for anyone to qualify for either program. Although strict, you can still qualify for SSDI, especially if you have an actual disability.
Applying for SSDI may seem pretty daunting, and it’s okay to be a tad little apprehensive. You can only qualify for SSDI under strict regulations by law. That means, even if your doctor says you’re disabled, it doesn’t mean you automatically qualify SSDI benefits.
However, don’t give up yet. If you follow each application step to the latter and get a good lawyer on your case, qualifying for SSDI benefits will be a breeze. In this post, we’ll be looking at the steps to take when applying for SSDI benefits.
Step 1: Consider Your Current State of Employment
Before you apply for SSDI benefits, you need to ask yourself whether you’re working. That’s because SSDI benefits are only available for folks who are unable to work. If you’re unable to work because of a disability, it means you can’t fend for yourself.
If you work and earn a wage from your occupation, it means you can sustain yourself well enough. That means you can’t qualify for social security disability insurance because you don’t need it. However, there’s a twist to it.
If you earn less than $1260 every month in 2020, you may qualify for SSDI benefits. If you earn more than this, better luck next year; maybe the income threshold may increase.
Step 2: Examine the Severity of Your Disability
Just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you instantly qualify for SSDI benefits. Your disability must render you incapable of working, and then you can receive the benefits. Thus before you move to the next step, you need to examine the severity of your disability.
Disable persons are unable to take part in work activities because of their disability. People with severe disabilities can’t even conduct day-to-day activities without assistance. If you have a mild disability and are still able to work, then there’s a high chance that you won’t qualify.
However, if your disability has rendered you incapable of working, then the SSA may consider you disabled. If you ticked this box, then you can proceed to the third step.
Step 3: Check Whether the Social Security Administration Recognizes Your Condition
As mentioned earlier, the SSA is the body responsible for both the SSID and the SSDI. That said, if the SSA doesn’t recognize your condition, then good luck trying to qualify. So how do I know if the SSA recognizes my condition or disability?
The SSA has an impairment list that considers all conditions and disability that they recognize as a disability. Don’t start celebrating yet if your condition or disability is on the list. You still have to meet certain criteria for you to qualify for the social security disability insurance program.
You may either fall on the listings of impairment or the list of disabling conditions. For lists of impairments, you must sufficiently prove that you have the symptoms that lead you to that particular condition. You must also prove that the impairment limits your capacity to work as described by your doctor.
If the SSA recognizes your condition as disabling, then you won’t have to move to the fourth step. That means you qualify for SSDI benefits because you’re disabled as per the SSA definition. However, you’re not out of the woods yet.
The SSA still has to determine whether your situation is a “compassionate allowance” case. For such cases, you get an instant qualification, the moment the SSA receives your diagnosis. A quick disability scenario, on the other hand, requires screening from a computer program to determine the accuracy of your case.
Quick disability determination is the process where your information goes through a predictive modeling program. The program analyzes your data, and conclusively establishes your probability of disability. The results are then sent to a special quick determination panel for review and approval or denial.
Step 4: Confirm Whether You Can Still Do Your Previous Job
If your condition falls under the listings of impairments, you don’t need to go through the fourth step. This step is where you have to demonstrate that your disability limits your capacity for working like you used to. This means your condition must be severe enough to preclude you from working.
Remember, the SSA’s job is to make sure they give SSDI benefits to only those who deserve it. If you can still work and earn a living, you don’t deserve any SSDI benefits. That’s why this fourth step is so crucial for SSDI qualification.
If it’s not business as usual for you because of the disability, then you’re only one step away from qualifying for social security disability insurance. You can heave a sigh of relief before moving on to the next step.
Step 5: Check Whether You Can Settle for Another Occupation
Your disability may have made you unable to work your previous job, but can you find another occupation? Maybe you could get an alternative job that you can work even with your disability.
That said, the SSA considers your age, education, medical history, and other factors to determine whether you can get another job. The fifth step is arguably the most difficult because they’re so many jobs you could do. Some of these jobs don’t even require you to leave your home, yet you still earn a decent wage.
If you can get another job aside from the previous one, the SSA doesn’t consider you as disabled. Should you fail in any of the above steps, then it’s time to consider medical-vocational allowance.
What Is a Medical-Vocational Allowance?
The SSA’s manual, called the blue book, contains a list of all impairments and conditions they recognize as a disability. However, in some instances, you may still receive SSDI benefits even if your medical condition doesn’t match the listings. A medical-vocational allowance is one way you can qualify for these benefits without your condition on the listings.
A medical-vocational allowance requires a thorough review of your medical records. The review will give the SSA an idea of your current condition, and whether you’re, in fact, disabled. The SSA then decides whether you can take on an alternative job in your current state.
You’ll only qualify for SSDI benefits when the SSA deems you unable to undertake any job in your state. It doesn’t matter whether your condition appears on the listings or not. A medical-vocational allowance is usually a last resort for folks who’ve been denied SSDI benefits by the SSA.
When Should You Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
As a rule of thumb, you should call your lawyer as soon as you decide to file for social security disability insurance. Even if you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits right away, a free consultation never hurt anyone. It’s way better than navigating the convoluted law of social security disability law without direction.
A lawyer will be more than instrumental in your initial application to increase your chances of success. If your first application flops, then hiring a lawyer for your next one is a no-brainer. The lawyer will help you address all the mistakes you made in your initial application and make sure your second application goes through without a hitch.
The only time you shouldn’t hire a lawyer is when your application is halfway through the process. There’s nothing a lawyer can do at this point.
Why Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Considering how difficult it can be to qualify for SSDI benefits, hiring a lawyer should be a top priority. Some applicants indeed sail through the process and get their SSDI benefits without any legal help. However, you’re better off with some legal counsel backing your application.
These social security disability lawyers, for instance, are well versed in social security disability law. Plus, backed with over thirty years of experience helping clients get their benefits, they are just what the doctor ordered.
A good lawyer understands how to present your case to the SSA and argue it out. He/she can also fast track the entire process, so you get your benefits ASAP. The lawyer can also argue that your condition matches the listings, and you, therefore, qualify for SSDI benefits.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Should Be a Breeze
Now that you know the steps for applying for social security disability insurance, doing so should be a breeze. Remember, you’re never too good for legal help when filing for SSDI. Plus, if your first application gets rejected, you could always try a second time.
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