If you have recently suffered from a disability and are looking to apply for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may be worried and confused. After all, you are already dealing with your disability, without needing the added stress of navigating government bureaucracy. Here are five things you should know before you apply for disability benefits through the SSA, if you want to make things easier for yourself:
- There are two primary programs administered through the SSA
- The two primary programs administered by the SSA for people with disabilities are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both are important for helping people with disabilities to pay for basic expenses when they can no longer work. However, you typically can only qualify for one or the other, not both.
- You need to be able to medically show your disability
- It is not enough to claim you are suffering from a physical or psychological disability, or even to get a doctor who will write you a note explaining your disability.. You also need to show your disability exists through medical evidence, via a state-run office known as Disability Determination Services (DDS). They will perform an independent evaluation of your condition to make sure you have a disability.
- Your disability needs to be bad enough that you cannot work
- Technically speaking, millions of Americans qualify as having a medical condition which would be considered a disability. The key, however, is that you must show that your disability is sufficiently bad that you cannot work, even when it is being treated by a doctor. If you have failed to seek treatment for your disability or have refused to adhere to a prescribed treatment, you may be denied your disability benefits.
- You must meet certain economic requirements
- On top of meeting the medical requirements, you need to meet certain economic requirements. For SSDI, you need to earn a certain number of “work credits” by paying Social Security taxes, which is withheld on your behalf if you worked for an employer, or which you would pay yourself as an independent contractor. For SSI, you simply need to fall below a certain income threshold. If you fail to meet these criteria, you will not be eligible for either version of disability benefits.
- Even if you are rejected, that is not the end
- Even if your initial application is rejected, do not fret. There is an appeals process that may help you get your benefits, even if you are denied for some reason. However, to give yourself the best chance on your application, you should hire an attorney with experience handling SSDI and SSI issues.
If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.