What is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that pays monthly benefits to those who have become disabled before reaching retirement age and are no longer able to work. According to the NH disability attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC, in order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have worked a certain number of years in a job where you paid Social Security (FICA) taxes. Specifically, you need to have earned a certain number of work credits; you can earn up to four work credits per year. If you haven’t worked long enough when you become disabled, and have low income and assets, you can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) instead – please ask about our article about SSI.
How many work credits you need to qualify for SSDI benefits depends on your age when you became disabled. For example, if you are 50 years old when you become disabled, you need 28 work credits, or to have worked for seven years (and at least five of those years must have been within the last 10 years).
You also must have a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability. SSDI benefits are eligible only to those with a severe, long-term, total disability. Severe means that your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities. Long-term means that your condition has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least 12 months. Total disability means that you aren’t able to perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) for at least one year. If you are currently working and earn above a certain amount ($1,090 per month in 2015), the SSA will find that you’re performing SGA and that you are not disabled enough to qualify for SSDI benefits.
Approval for Disability Benefits
If you are approved for disability benefits, you won’t receive SSDI benefits until you have been disabled for five months. If you are approved right away (for example, because you have been diagnosed with terminal cancer or you just had a liver transplant), you would have to wait five months for your checks to start. However, it’s more likely you wouldn’t be approved for about six months to a year (after at least one level of appeal). In that case, when you finally get approved, you would be paid disability back pay starting with the sixth month after your disability began (known as your disability onset date). After you receive any back pay, you would get a disability benefit check each month. If your household income is over a certain amount, you will have to pay taxes on your disability benefits. Your dependents may also be eligible for a partial monthly benefit. You can keep receiving SSDI as long as your medical condition prevents you from working. The SSA may perform a continuing disability review (CDR) on your file every one to three years to determine if your condition has improved.
Denial of Disability Benefits
If your application for disability benefits is denied (most initial applications are), you have the right to file an appeal and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, but you must do so within 60 days of receiving the denial letter. If your claim for disability benefits has been denied, the NH disability attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC would be pleased to review the denial with you to determine if they can assist you with the filing of an appeal.
The NH disability attorneys at the Law Office of Manning & Zimmerman, PLLC handle cases in all areas of personal injury law, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, divorce/family law and disability. Please call our office at (603) 624-7200 or complete the form on this page to schedule a free initial consultation. Evening and weekend appointments are available.
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