Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability?
If you are injured on the job and expect to be out of work for a few months, should you apply for Social Security disability benefits?
For a lot of people, there is confusion about what the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program provides and who can benefit from applying. It is worth taking the time to determine if you are eligible prior to submitting your application.
For example, in the scenario mentioned above, as an employee injured on the job in Ohio, you would not be eligible for SSDI. Rather, your employer’s workers’ compensation coverage would provide medical care and short-term compensation during the time needed for you to recover and return to work.
To qualify for SSDI, you must meet a strict definition of disability as defined by the Social Security Administration. Let’s take a look at the specific eligibility requirements for SSDI:
- What is meant by “disabled?”— The Social Security Administration defines disability as a condition that leaves you unable to work for at least one year or will result in death. Even if you’re seriously injured on the job, an expectation of a return to work means the government assumes you can rely on workers’ compensation, savings, and other resources other than SSDI to get by during your recuperation. With SSDI there is no halfway; these benefits are not for partial or short-term disability.
- SSDI is a form of insurance — During your time in the American workforce, you build up credits through the payment of Social Security taxes. Workers pay into the SSDI program to qualify for disability payments should they need them. Essentially, the SSDI program works as disability insurance for U.S. employees. The Social Security Administration estimates that one in four adults aged 20 to 30 will become disabled before they reach age 67.In order to meet eligibility requirements, you must have worked enough — and recently enough — to qualify for benefits. When you are employed or self-employed, you earn work credits that qualify you for SSDI. The credits are based on your annual wages, and you can earn up to four each year. Currently, 40 work credits are needed for eligibility for SSDI. You must have acquired at least 20 of those credits during the last ten years. Unfortunately for some who may have worked long hours when they were younger and then taken time off to raise a family, lack of work credits may stand in the way of eligibility.
- Ability to work — In order to qualify for SSDI, you must be able to prove that you cannot perform any work at all, not just the work that you were accustomed to doing prior to your injury or illness.
Even if you meet these requirements for SSDI, your physical condition must be included on the list of approved impairments developed by the Social Security Administration. Since the amount of red tape involved in applying for SSDI can be daunting, it is a good idea to talk to an attorney experienced with workers’ compensation and SSDI.
Your attorney becomes your advocate for getting the benefits that you need and for which you are eligible. You may be able to save time and frustration and speed your access to benefits if you talk to an SSDI attorney before filing your application. Ensuring your application is prepared correctly the first time makes a big difference in the process ahead.