Published on: May 5, 2016
You probably never thought that you or a loved one would ever become disabled or need to rely on Social Security disability income in your lifetime.
That’s why the SSA has two disability benefit programs that are intended to provide you a good quality of life while you are enduring the symptoms of your disabling condition.
What are Disability Benefits
There are two types of disability benefits the Social Security Administration offers, SSDI and SSI. In order to be eligible for any SSA disability benefit, you will need to be diagnosed with a medical condition listed in the SSA’s blue book; you will also need to provide sufficient evidence detailing how your condition inhibits you from performing daily tasks and working.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a wage or salary replacement income for those who have paid FICA (Social Security) taxes.
SSDI functions similar to an insurance program meaning that you have paid into the program and your benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available for those who are disabled, aren’t eligible for SSDI or are receiving SSDI but are still below the financial standard of need.
The amount of Supplemental Security Income is the same nationwide; however, some states reserve the right to pay additional money to the recipients basic benefit.
How to Apply for Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration allows you to apply for either SSI or SSDI disability benefits (or both) a few different ways including:
- Online at www.socialsecurity.gov (SSDI Only)
- Over the phone by calling the SSA’s toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, or
- In person by setting up an appointment via 1-800-772-1213
No matter which application method you choose to apply from, you will need to provide personal documents pertaining to your citizenship and medical condition. Some of the information you will need to provide include:
- Your Social Security number
- Your birth certificate
- Your medical records
- Your detailed work history
- Your W-2 and tax information for the most recent closed year
The Social Security Administration will review your application, documents, work history and your medical condition. They will then forward your case to your local Disability Determination Services who will complete your initial determination decision.
The people who are involved at the local determination level are doctors and disability specialists who consider every piece of information and support you have provided and they have secured.
What to Expect if Approved
If you are approved, then the state agency will forward your case back to Social Security and they will mail you a letter of approval that outlines the next steps including your benefit amount and when to expect your first payment.
Part of being approved means that you will be subject to reviews. These can be annually or every three or five years depending on your disability and the likelihood of your medical condition improving.
What to Do If You Were Denied
If your application was denied, then you will still receive a letter detailing why it was not approved and how you can appeal their decision if you disagree.
If you are denied Social Security disability benefits, you should contact a professional and experienced disability advocate who will help fight for the benefits you deserve.