How do I apply for disability benefits?
You can complete some or all of the forms online or call Social Security’s toll-free number, to schedule an appointment. You can apply for disability benefits online or directly through your local office. Call us today and we’ll help you locate your local office
Who can get social security disability benefits?
Social Security pays benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Federal law requires this very strict definition of disability. While some programs give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not. Additionally, certain family members of disabled workers also can receive money from Social Security.
How does Social Security define disability?
Disability under Social Security for an adult is based on your inability to work because of a medical condition. To be considered disabled:
* You must be unable to do work you did before and we decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of a medical condition. * Your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or short-term disability.
For adults, Social Security uses a five-step evaluation process to decide whether you are disabled. The process considers any current work activity you are doing, and your medical condition and how it affects your ability to work
How does Social Security decide if I’m disabled?
Social Security uses a five-step process to decide if you are disabled.
Step 1. Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, we generally will not consider you disabled. The amount changes each year. If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, the state agency then looks at your medical condition.
Step 2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
For the state agency to decide that you are disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, the state agency will not consider you disabled. If your condition is that severe, the state agency goes on to step three.
Step 3. Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
The state agency has a List of Impairments that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, the state agency looks to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, the state agency goes on to step four.
Step 4. Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, the state agency decides if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, the state agency goes on to step five.
Step 5. Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the state agency looks to see if you would be able to do other work. It evaluates your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, the state agency will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled.
The Social Security Administration is responsible for two major programs that provide benefits based on disability: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which is based on prior work under Social Security, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Under SSI, payments are made on the basis of financial need.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is financed with Social Security taxes paid by workers, employers, and self-employed persons. To be eligible for a Social Security benefit, the worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work to be “insured” for Social Security purposes. Disability benefits are payable to blind or disabled workers, widow(er)s, or adults disabled since childhood, who are otherwise eligible. The amount of the monthly disability benefit is based on the Social Security earnings record of the insured worker.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a program financed through general revenues. SSI disability benefits are payable to adults or children who are disabled or blind, have limited income and resources, meet the living arrangement requirements, and are otherwise eligible. The monthly payment varies up to the maximum federal benefit rate, which may be supplemented by the State or decreased by countable income and resources.
What are non-medical requirements for disability?
To receive Social Security Disability benefits a person must meet Social Security’s definition of disability and meet certain non-medical eligibility requirements. Examples of non-medical eligibility requirements include proof of age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information.
State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services or DDSs) make the medical determination on a claim.
Local Social Security offices are responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements.
If disability must last 1 year, must I wait a year to apply?
No. You do not have to wait a year after becoming disabled to receive disability benefits. However, you should apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. It can take a long time to process an application for disability benefits (three to five months).
If your application is approved, your first Social Security disability benefits will be paid for the sixth full month after the date your disability began.
For example, if the state agency decides your disability began on January 15, your first disability benefit will be paid for the month of July. However, Social Security benefits are paid in the month following the month for which they are due, so you will receive your July benefit in August.
Can I receive Social Security benefits and SSI?
You may be able to receive SSI in addition to monthly Social Security benefits, if your Social Security benefit is low enough to qualify.
The amount of your SSI benefit depends on where you live. The basic SSI check is the same nationwide. Effective January 2008, the SSI payment for an eligible individual is $637 per month and $956 per month for an eligible couple. However, many states add money to the basic check. Generally, the more income you have, the less your SSI benefit will be. If your countable income is over the allowable limit, you cannot receive SSI benefits. Some of your income may not count as income for the SSI program. For example, the first $20/month of your Social Security benefits may be excluded in determining your eligibility to SSI.
Can a person with a terminal illness qualify for disability benefits?
Yes. The requirements for disability benefits are the same for a person with a potentially terminal illness as for a person with a non-terminal illness.