Social Security disability income is an important financial lifeline for workers. There are important things to know about this program to obtain and keep benefits.
Social Security benefits are typically paid to eligible workers and their families. Payments are based on the workers’ earnings.
This Retirement, Survivor and Disability Insurance Benefits program is funded by employment taxes. An eligible worker who acquires a disability or a claimant who is a surviving spouse or child of an eligible worker can seek Social Security benefits before retirement age.
The Supplemental Security Income program is funded by general taxes and provides income to the poor, those having insufficient income or resources and individuals who are blind or have a disability but are ineligible for RSDI benefits.
Eligibility can be complicated. Applicants for Social Security Disability benefits had to work long enough and recently in Social Security covered jobs. They must have a medical condition that falls within the Social Security definition of disability.
The number of work credits needed for disability benefit eligibility depends on the age a person becomes disabled. Applicants usually need 40 credits. Twenty of these credits must be earned in the last 10 years ending with the year that the person acquired the disability.
Work credits are calculated from total yearly wages or income from self-employment. The amount needed to earn work credit changes yearly. Younger worker can qualify for disability with fewer credits.
The following requirements are necessary for eligibility:
- Claimants cannot perform work that they did earlier because of their medical condition.
- Claimants cannot adjust to their work because of their medical condition.
- The disability has lasted or is expected to last at least one year or lead to death.
Social Security does not provide benefits partial or short-term disability. Claimants must have a total disability which is so severe that the worker cannot work considering their age, education, and experience.
The Compassionate Allowances and Quick Disability Determinations initiatives expedite processing of new disability claims. These programs use technology to identify claimants with the most severe disabilities. The Social Security Administration can quickly and accurately decide those cases, often as soon as the diagnosis is confirmed.
Examples of these conditions include acute leukemia, ALS, and pancreatic cancer. The SSA added 12 new allowance conditions which now totals 254.
Claimant may need legal assistance when they go through this complex process. Attorneys can help claimants present their claims, undergo hearings and reviews and appeal denials.