Applying For SSDI
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program available to those who have suffered long-term disabilities, impairments and mental disorders that would prevent them from otherwise holding a steady job or from finding a new line of work.
Applying for SSDI can be a complicated process. Small errors in the initial application process can lead to the denial of benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Reports vary, but as many as 60-70 percent of first-time applicants are initially denied coverage.
For this reason, any application and appeals process should be carefully handled by a lawyer who has experience helping clients obtain the benefits they need.
Applying For SSI
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program available to indigent individuals who do not qualify for SSDI because they lack sufficient work experience in a job covered by the SSA. There is a maximum income requirement in order to qualify for the program. This is roughly $1,000 per month depending upon your sources of income and other assistance programs you may be on.
The SSI program provides cash to elderly, blind and disabled citizens who have little or no income. It’s designed to provide cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing and shelter. Qualifying individuals can receive $721 per month for 2014.
The Five-Step Process
Other than the basic difference in income considerations, the SSA uses a five-step process to determine if an individual is eligible to receive benefits.
This five-step process is as follows:
- Are you working? If you are earning over a certain level of wages (usually $1,047 per month), you are not disabled. If you are not earning anything or not earning at the specified level, you can go to step two.
- Is your condition considered severe? If it’s not considered severe by SSA standards, you are not considered eligible for benefits. If your medical condition will limit you in basic work activities – sitting for prolonged periods, standing, lifting 10 pounds or more, etc. – for at least one year, your condition is generally considered severe.
- Does your impairment or combination of impairments meet or equal a condition on the prescribed listing of impairments? If yes, you are considered disabled.
- Can you return to previous work? If so, you are not disabled.
- Can you do other work? SSA considers your impairment and resulting limitations, education, literacy, age and vocational skills. If you can do other work, you are not disabled. If you cannot, you are disabled.
This basic information is a good starting point when trying to understand the application process. An attorney at our firm in Knoxville can go over SSI and SSD application information and pitfalls in greater detail.