What You Should Know Before Applying for Social Security Disability
For many Americans, receiving a disability benefit from the government is a big help during rough economic times. Some people live solely off their benefit, while for others it merely helps them get along. Whatever your opinion about the benefits currently provided by the SSA, it is certainly clear that having them helps those who qualify. After paying so long into the system some are surprised to learn that they do not qualify to receive benefits. Read on to learn some key tips in getting your disability application approved for yourself or a loved one.
Benefits Are Paid To Those Who Are “Insured”
In the qualifying language of the Social Security Administration disability benefits are paid based on if the person applying is “insured.” This means that they have a long enough work history, earning money and paying taxes on that money, to qualify for benefits should the need ever arise.
There are two types of benefits someone can receive:
- Social Security Disability Insurance
- Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays benefits based on financial need while Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) uses different criteria.
First Step: Apply
Your first step if you are seeking benefits is to apply. Applications for SSDI are accepted in a variety of ways including over the phone, mail, online, or in person. Supplemental Security Income applications are only accepted in person at a Social Security Administration office.
A field office will process your application and verify information such as your age, employment, marital status, and if you actually qualify based on your contributions from previous work taxes.
For a disability application your file will get sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) to decide if you are medically disabled in a way that would qualify you for benefits. The DDS is what gets your medical records from your doctors and has their own doctors look this information over to make a decision.
Help Your Application Get Approved By Working Part-Time
In 2012 if you earned $4,520 or more your application would be viewed more favorably and make it more likely that you could receive benefits. This is the minimum amount needed to earn work credits. These credits are used to determine how long the Social Security Administration can give you benefits. Working part time and earning the minimum above will earn 5 work credits based on your taxable earned income. For every $1,130 you earn and have paid taxes on you earn an additional credit. You have to report this income and pay taxes on it for it to count towards your benefits.
Over time credits will expire so it’s important to maintain a work history if you are able to work to some degree, even if it’s just part time. The Social Security Administration looks at a variety of information in making their decision for your disability benefits. One of these is the Date Last Insured. The reason this is important is because it serves as proof that your condition has been debilitating for a significant amount of time before you were last insured (working) before applying for benefits.
If you can maintain a part time job when you’re retired this would be helpful in getting approved for any benefits in the future. For example, if you retired at age 45 while having a spouse’s medical coverage then applied for benefits at age 51 you would likely not get any benefits. However, if you kept working at least enough to earn $4,520 during each of those six years you would be much more likely to get approved.
John Barrett is a writer and employment law activist. He enjoys spending time with his family and keeping up on relevant issues for employees’ conditions in the workplace. He is representing Employmentlawlayers.com with his writing.