SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is a beneficial federal program that is designed to ensure long-term financial protection for Americans who have paid into the program during their working years. People are often deterred from applying for this program mainly on account of concerns regarding the huge amount of paperwork involved, long waiting periods and possible denials. However, applying for disability benefits is not very difficult and can be easily done either on the applicant’s own or with the support and advice of a disability lawyer. The latter option becomes more effective because the lawyer can, with the help of a comprehensive medical record review decide whether the applicant’s claim for disability benefits is feasible. The lawyer can also help in the disability claim processing right from the beginning and assist with the appeal in case of a denial.
The ruling concerns in the minds of disability applicants are as follows.
- Possibility of denial: While it is true that the SSA (Social Security Administration) has very strict standards and a rigorous screening process, genuinely disabled people who are unable to work can get their claims approved. In fiscal year 2013, 33% of the applications received were approved. In case the claim is denied the first time, candidates can appeal. Once the SSA is convinced of the applicant’s disability they approve the claim.
- Whether the disability benefits will be available throughout one’s lifetime: The medical condition of the person receiving SSDI will be reviewed periodically to decide eligibility for the benefits. The first review will be held 6 to 18 months after the date when the disability occurred. If there is scope for improvement, but there is no surety regarding it, the reviews are done every 3 years. In case there is no likelihood of improvement, the reviews are conducted every 7 years.
- What amount one can actually expect to receive: SSDI program replaces some, but not all of one’s income. It helps people meet their basic living needs. The payments are modest, and the average monthly disability benefits paid at the beginning of 2015 is $1165.
Sometimes, confusion exists whether SSDI is the same as SSI (Supplemental Security Income). They are not the same. SSI is a federal income supplement program and these differ in the way they are funded. SSDI draws its finances from employment taxes. Benefits are paid to eligible workers and their families in keeping with the employee’s earnings. The SSI program depends on general taxes. It is a program for the needy and depends mainly on limited income and resources. Eligible candidates can apply for both programs simultaneously, and this provision has been made so that applicants do not miss out on the benefits of either program. To further support beneficiaries, the SSA allows them to return to work while still receiving SSDI benefits. They are usually given a trial work period for nine months to determine whether they can work. Those who receive SSI benefits can also work while receiving the income. Being a needs-based program for aged, blind and disabled people, the SSI amount is based partly on the income available to the person. If the income available is more, the SSI benefits will be less.