Understanding Your SSDI Benefits: A Guide for Applicants

Disability is not a common concern for most people, but the truth of the matter is that many more people end up becoming disabled than anticipated. The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that studies demonstrated that a 20-year-old worker has a one-in-four chance of becoming disabled before they reach full retirement age.

Social Security pays disability benefits through two programs, the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSDI pays benefits to individuals who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

To qualify for SSDI, a person must have worked long enough and recently enough to be considered insured. The length of time a person is required to work will vary by age, and as a person gets older, they will need more years of work in order to qualify.

Federal law involves a strict definition of disability, and people not only need to satisfy the definition of disability but also must have worked long enough and recently enough under Social Security to qualify for SSDI benefits. Although there are other programs that pay money to people with partial disability or short-term disability, Social Security does not.

SSDI is funded by payroll taxes because people who have worked for several years and contributed to the Social Security trust fund through Social Security taxes. Such taxes translate into Social Security credits, and certain qualified dependents could also receive benefits even if they have not worked.

The amount necessary for a work credit will change every year. A person earned one credit for every $1,470 in wages or self-employment income in 2021. Unlike SSI, which bases eligibility on a person being 65 years of age, being blind, or having a disability, as well as a limited income and resources, SSDI eligibility involves a person having a disability and sufficient work credits through employment.

SSDI benefits begin during the sixth full month of disability. A six-month period will begin with the first full month after the date SSA decides a disability began.

According to the SSA, the average monthly benefit as of December 2022 was $1,688. The maximum benefit was set at $3,636 for 2023.

When it comes to health insurance, a person automatically qualifies for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period from the time their benefits begin. There is no waiting period for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

People who have both a limited income and resources as well as a work history may qualify for both SSI and SSDI. People can apply for SSDI benefits online at any age or by calling Social Security at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) between 7 a.m. - 7 p.m., Monday through Friday.

A person’s condition must significantly limit their ability to do basic work-related activities, like lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering for a minimum of 12 months. When it does not, the SSA will find that a person does not have a qualifying disability.

A Benefits Planning Query (BPQY) is a detailed report about the disability benefits a person gets from the SSA. A BPQY will include information about a person's SSDI benefits, work history, earnings history, and Medicare.

A BPQY could also state whether a person qualifies for Medicaid based on SSI eligibility, although they will have to apply for Medicaid separately. To request a BPQY, a person can call Social Security at the phone number listed above. It takes two weeks to two months for a person to get a BPQY in the mail.

When a person receives a BPQY, they should review it carefully to ensure it is accurate. If there is a need to make corrections, a person should contact their local Social Security office.

A person must request a BPQY for themselves or provide two separate signed consent forms asking for the release of a BPQY to a third party, such as a representative payee, family member, or friend. The BPQY includes sample consent forms and text and is free when a beneficiary, a representative payee, or another person who represents or counsels a beneficiary makes a request for program purposes.

State benefits for SSDI could include Medicaid, health benefits for workers with disabilities (HBWD), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (also known as food stamps), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), aid to the aged, blind, and disabled (AABD), and possibly other programs. People can contact their local Department of Human Services (DHS) Family Community Resource Center to obtain more information about state benefits.

Call Us Today to Speak with a Social Security Disability Attorney

The lawyers of McCravy, Newlon, Sturkie & Clardy regularly help people with all kinds of SSDI benefits issues. Call (864) 399-9100 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation, which we offer 24 hours a day.

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