Sign up for a free initial
The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers disability benefits through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSD and SSI differ greatly in eligibility requirements and available benefits, and many people considering applying for disability benefits are confused about which program to target. The disability lawyers at Young, Reverman & Mazzei have an extensive record of success helping disabled individuals from the greater Cincinnati area—including those in northern Kentucky and eastern Indiana—get the benefits they need.
Disability Benefits: SSD vs. SSI
Social Security Disability Insurance is funded through payroll tax contributions, and the SSD program provides monthly monetary benefits to disabled workers who have earned a certain level of work credits through previous employment. Eligibility for SSD benefits is not affected by an individual’s other financial assets.
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is funded through general tax revenues and provides monthly financial benefits to disabled adults who meet low-income requirements, children who are blind or otherwise disabled, or individuals age 65 and older who are not disabled but meet income restrictions.
More than 75 percent of Social Security Disability claimants are SSD recipients, although in some cases individuals may qualify for both SSD and SSI based on financial need and the severity of their disability. In addition to who the programs serve, SSD and SSI also differ in eligibility.
Who is Eligible for SSD Benefits?
SSD is strictly for individuals who have a physical or mental impairment that prohibits the applicant from working. The condition must last (or be expected to last) at least 12 months or result in death.
Impairments covered by SSD benefits include but are not limited to:
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Musculoskeletal conditions
- Respiratory illnesses
- Neurological disorders and epilepsy
- Mental illnesses
- Special senses and speech difficulties
- Genitourinary disorders and kidney diseases
- Digestive disorders
- Blood disorders
- Skin disorders
- Immune system disorders
- Congenital diseases
While a diagnosis for any of these conditions does not automatically qualify you for SSD benefits, these are the conditions most approved by SSD judges. If your condition doesn’t fall under these categories, you may still be able to apply for SSD. No matter what your disability, however, following the appropriate application process is very important.
Applying for SSD Benefits
Before becoming eligible for SSD benefits, applicants must have earned a certain number of work credits. You gain work credits when you work as an employee and contribute to Social Security taxes. Each person gains a maximum of four credits per year.
To be eligible for SSD benefits, applicants must have:
- Earned between 6 and 40 work credits, depending on age
- Earned 20 credits in the last 10 years, ending when the disability began
- Be disabled for at least 5 months prior to applying
Based on your eligibility and average lifetime earnings, SSD will provide monthly benefits if an application is approved. The amount awarded each month will be adjusted based on Workers’ Compensation payments or other disability benefits an applicant receives.
The initial application involves gathering materials from the Adult Disability Checklist, completing the disability application, and filling out a medical release form. You’ll also need to provide:
- Birth certificate or other proof of birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status
- S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for last year
- Award letters, pay stubs, or settlement agreements for workers’ compensation-type benefits
If you do not provide all of the required materials, odds are high that your application will be rejected. In 2017, only about 760,000 applications were approved out of nearly 3.5 million.
How a Disability Lawyer Can Help
Although you are not required to hire an attorney to apply for SSD or SSI benefits, a knowledgeable disability lawyer can improve your chances for a successful initial application or help you appeal a denied SSD claim.
Many people find the application process confusing and overwhelming, especially as they’re trying to cope with the effects of a disability. This often leads to incomplete or inadequately documented applications that deny otherwise qualified individuals the financial assistance they need.
The Cincinnati disability attorneys at Young, Reverman & Mazzei have decades of experience helping disabled individuals get the financial benefits they need to move forward with their lives. Whether you’re preparing to apply for Social Security Disability benefits or need guidance appealing a denied claim, our lawyers are ready to help.
We welcome clients from the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas in Ohio, as well as those in northern Kentucky (Campbell County, Boone County and Kenton County) and eastern Indiana (Dearborn County). Please see our Locations page for a complete list of our offices and directions.