Disability Benefits: How To Know If You Are Eligible For Them
According to the CDC, 61 million adults in the United States lead their lives with a disability of sorts. That’s a little over a quarter of the entire American population. If your ability to earn a living has recently been affected by a disability, you’re not alone. Of course, this isn’t much consolation when you’re stressed about your worsening financial situation. What we can offer you is a way out. If you turn out to be eligible for disability benefits, you’ll get a much-needed compensation that can be of great help in many aspects. Here is everything you need to know about the subject.
What are Disability Benefits?
Known officially as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it is a form of monetary compensation provided for people with disabilities by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Upon application, you will go through a process to determine whether or not you qualify and how much you qualify for. While many believe that the money allotted is mainly calculated by how severe a disability is, this is not fact. The amount granted by the SSA is determined by how many years you’ve spent working and how much money you were paid before your disability. It all depends on the work credits you earn. In 2021, at the time of writing, $1,470 in salary/self-earned income is worth one credit. The maximum number of credits one can earn per year is limited to four which means that, in order to qualify for a disability, you need to have worked for ten years and scored 40 credits (this eligibility condition varies according to the age at which you become disabled). As for the payout, in 2020, the monthly maximum was $3,011, and the average was between $800 and $1,800.
What Counts as a Disability?
While the definition of disability might be obvious, there are strict legal characteristics that define a disability. In order to give the benefits to those who truly need them, the SSA needs to be incredibly selective, which, as per Derek L. Hall, P.C, is why something as simple as a mistake on an application form could cost you your chance at SSDI. It’s also why keeping extensive medical records is imperative to your case’s acceptance, but first things first. What counts as a disability? First of all, it has to be a medical impairment (motion or memory-related) that affects your work performance for a year at the least. Second, it has to prevent you from doing the work you used to do. Third, if you are working, you can’t be earning over $1,310 monthly. Fourth, if your condition is not included on the SSA’s disability list, they will need to decide whether or not it is severe enough to be considered a disability.
The Few Exceptions
Now, because it is hard to set concrete rules when it comes to medical conditions, there are a few exceptions. For example, blind people and people with low vision can qualify for disability insurance, even if they are capable of working. Widows of workers, as well, can file for disability on behalf of their deceased, but they have to be between 50 and 60 years of age. Meanwhile, disabled children can receive benefits as dependents up until they turn 18 or 19.
The application process is tiring and often frustrating. Before you put time and effort into filing an application, take the time to read all the eligibility conditions and the exceptions. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to visit the SSA website or contact them directly. If you know you won’t meet the conditions for disability benefits, it’s better to avoid the grueling process altogether. However, if you think there is even the slightest chance you might be accepted, then, by all means, venture on. You’ll need to provide a birth certificate, proof of citizenship, medical records, and your W-2 form belonging to the previous year. To guarantee the best results, talk to a lawyer before you file your application. They know the ins and outs of the law and so, they’ll be able to guide you through the confusing process.
Talking about disability benefits is hard, especially if you haven’t yet had the time to process and come to terms with your disability. Nevertheless, it’s a necessary conversation, and the sooner you have it, the sooner you apply, and the better your chances will be at getting accepted. Amid the "masses" complaining about getting rejected, it’s easy to think that your chances are slim too, but that’s far from the truth. With enough knowledge, complete records, and an experienced lawyer, you can get the benefits you need to have a comfortable life. Good luck.