Understanding SSDI Benefits for Disabilities in the United States
If you become injured and cannot work due to a disability, then you may qualify for SSDI under Pennsylvania and U.S. law. SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. SSDI is one of several programs operated as a partnership between states and the U.S. federal government, particularly the Social Security Administration, in order to protect people who are disabled.
Various forms are required, and the process of getting onto SSDI can be challenging. However SSDI can be very valuable for people who are suffering from long-term medical afflictions that restrict their ability to "hold down a job." SSDI provides individuals with supplemental income to meet their cost of living.
Eligibility Requirements and Differences Between SSDI and Other Programs
There are various requirements for SSDI, and each person who hopes to obtain SSDI benefits must be eligible according to all of the criteria. Be aware that the criteria can change over time, which is one reason why it is a good idea to retain an expert SSDI lawyer in Pennsylvania.
The current SSDI requirements include the following:
- You must be under 65 years of age.
- You must have at least 20 Social Security credits earned in the last ten years.
- You must wait for a five-month waiting period, receiving your benefits in the sixth month.
- You must be "totally disabled," a category under Social Security's disability definitions.
- You must file a complete and accurate application.
In some cases, family members of the beneficiary may also be eligible for benefits:
- A spouse aged 62 years or older may receive SSDI benefits on another's record.
- A spouse (regardless of age) caring for a beneficiary's disabled child or under-16 child.
- Unmarried children of the beneficiary who are under 18 or who have a disability.
One of the most challenging aspects of achieving SSDI is proving that you are "totally disabled" according to government specifications. "Total disability" is a form of long-term disability and must include all of the following characteristics:
- The beneficiary must not be working, or if working, must earn below a certain amount.
- The beneficiary must be unable to do basic activities necessary for working effectively.
- The beneficiary must be suffering from a long-term disability of a year or more, or;
- The beneficiary's disability must be reasonably expected to end in death.
- The beneficiary must be restricted, by the disability, from doing work they did before disabled.
- The beneficiary must be unable to do other kinds of work due to the nature of the disability.
Qualifying for SSDI: a Potentially Challenging Process
To qualify for SSDI, it is necessary to see a doctor who will certify that a person's condition meets all of the stipulations above. In order to continue receiving benefits, the beneficiary will often be required to "check in" with Social Security officials every few years for a re-evaluation, which includes a meeting and interview with a Social Security Administration expert. However, these evaluations are not medical checkups.
While many Americans are able to gain and receive their benefits without the help of a lawyer, there are also many cases where the initial determination will not be in an applicant's favor. The Social Security Administration has provided a detailed appeals process that allows a potential beneficiary to challenge these rulings. However, the process is very complex, and expert legal counsel is very helpful in succeeding in the process.
Risks and Special Cautions Involved in Accepting SSDI Benefits
As noted above, it takes at least five months to begin receiving SSDI benefits. This period begins when your application is approved: It does not include time the application spends in processing or any time that you might spend appealing the initial rulings. You will not receive any benefits for these periods.
When you begin receiving checks, be sure to closely note the numbers related to your benefit amount. It is possible to be overpaid or underpaid benefits, and in the event of a shortfall, you want to communicate with Social Security right away. Likewise, if you are overpaid, you might owe the government back pay.
Note that there are other government programs similar to SSDI which may be more appropriate for an individual who is below the age of the majority, who is permanently, legally blind, or who suffers from other types of conditions. One program is Supplemental Security Insurance, or SSI, which can also apply to permanently disabled people. It may be worthwhile to review the details of this program with your attorney.
How Ages, Retirement, and Death Notices Affect Your Eligibility
If you are age 65 or older, you will not be eligible for SSDI. Likewise, if you have not worked enough to earn the required number of credits, you will not qualify for SSDI: However, if you have qualified for SSDI, your total disability means that your own retirement will not be a factor in computing further benefits, and the retirement of your spouse or dependents will usually not affect their benefits - check with your attorney. Should the beneficiary die, their dependents are not usually eligible for future benefits.
Although SSDI is simple once you have received it, you must be aware of all correspondence Social Security sends to you, and be sure to keep copies for your records. You are responsible for all information that the Administration might send! Should you lose your Social Security card, always remember to get a replacement card right away.
At the Law Office of Deborah Truscello, we want you to know that getting Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits is not impossible. With the help of our law firm's attorney, you can get the benefits you are entitled to for disabilities that prevent you from working. Contact a Delaware County Social Security Disability attorney to schedule a free initial consultation.
Are you seeking benefits for the first time, or pursuing an appeal? Be sure to have the following information available:
- A list of doctors' names who have treated you over the last 15 years
- The addresses and phone numbers of treating clinics, hospitals, and doctors
- A list of employment history, including job duties and positions held
- Educational background
If your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) claim has been denied, you are not alone. Initial claims filed without an attorney are often denied.
Once you have received notification that your claim has been denied, you only have 60 days to appeal your denied Social Security Disability claim. If you are serious about getting benefits, it is critical to seek representation from an attorney at this point in your case.
Relying on Our Success Record
In the last 23 years, attorney Deborah Truscello has enjoyed a very favorable success practicing SSDI law and that has resulted in clients finding satisfaction and closure when a condition whether temporary or permanent has made it impossible for them to work.
Success breeds confidence. Our law firm understands the nuances related to appealing a denied SSDI claim. We help clients move forward with the assurance that their interests are being represented and that they will receive the supplemental security income they are entitled to obtain.
Contact a Media SSDI Attorney
Getting the legal assistance you need to help you through a difficult situation is not just wishful thinking. With the able, supportive backing of the Law Office of Deborah Truscello, it can be a reality. For help with your initial claim or an appeal, contact us today for a free initial consultation and case review. We charge no fee unless we settle your case, prevent the loss of your benefits or obtain benefits for you.