Social Security Disability Benefits

How to Get Financial Help If You're Too Sick to WOrk

Social Security Debate Heats Up
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What would you do if you became ill or were severely injured and had to stop working? Think it couldn't happen? According to Social Security Online, "a 20-year-old worker has a 3-in-10 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age." Not to scare you but the odds of this happening to you are not exactly non-existent. If a catastrophic event such as this did occur, not only would you have to deal with your physical issues, you'd have some major financial ones to contend with as well. If you were lucky enough to have a disability insurance policy included in your benefits package or if you purchased one on your own you'd have the necessary financial support.

You'd also be okay financiallyif your accident was job-related and therefore covered under Workman's Compensation, a state-administered program.

What if you didn't have a disability insurance policy and you weren't covered by workman's compensation? Hopefully you will never find yourself in this situation, but if you do there are two programs, both administered by the United States Social Security Administration, that may provide you with financial support for you and your dependents. They are the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. According to Social Security Online, "the medical requirements for disability payments are the same under both programs, and your disability is determined by the same process." The difference between SSDI and SSI is in the income requirements for each.

To be eligible for SSI, one must be considered "low-income." Both programs require you to have a certain number of work credits that you accumulated within the last ten years (requirements vary so it is very important to check with your Social Security Administration representative). Individuals accumulate these credits by earning money and paying social security taxes.

How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to qualify for US Social Security Disability Benefits, you must meet certain criteria. A Social Security Administration representative will make the final determination of your eligibility for benefits.  Here are some guidelines:

  • You must be unable to work or, if you can work, your earnings must fall under a certain amount (a Social Security Administration representative can let you know what that amount is).
  • Your illness or condition must be so severe that it interferes with certain work-related activities.
  • Your condition  must appear on a list of impairments maintained by the Social Security Administration.
  • If you have a condition that doesn't appear on the SSA's list of disabling conditions, you may still be eligible if it is severe enough to keep you from doing the work you previously did.
  • Your illness must keep you from adjusting to work that is different from the work you did prior to having your disability.
  • Your disability is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

If you meet the criteria listed here, you need to learn more about the process you will need to go through to apply for disability benefits. You can find out what you need to know by going to the Disability Planner's section of Social Security Online. It is important to note that the Social Security Administration is very strict and that many people who apply for benefits are denied.