While many of us dream of a time when we won't have to work, few of us have considered the possibility of an illness or an injury keeping us from our jobs. A surprising number of people suffer from disabilities that affect their ability to work, and many become disabled before they reach retirement age. Because most people don't plan for such a disability, programs like Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) exist to help disabled workers and families manage their lives should an untimely injury or illness occur. FindLaw's Social Security Disability section has articles covering a wide variety of topics concerning disability filing and benefits.
This section provides information on common Social Security Disability issues like determining whether you are eligible for benefits, what constitutes a disability, and how Social Security Disability is defined. You can also find detailed materials on how to file for Social Security Disability, what might happen at a disability hearing, how much you may be entitled to, and how to appeal a disability judgment.
Social Security Disability Benefits
Depending on your employment and financial status the Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs that can provide disability benefits. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is funded by deductions from paychecks and can be a resource for workers who have paid into the system. Supplemental Security Income (SSI), on the other hand, can provide benefits for low-income individuals, children, and the blind. The majority of disability benefits take the form of payments intended to replace lost income.
Eligibility for Disability Benefits
"Disabled" for the purposes of claiming SSDI or SSI benefits means you have a condition that prevents you from earning a minimum monthly income as a full-time employee. The listed disability must also have either lasted or is expected to last for 12 continuous months, or is expected to result in death.
There is an official listing of medical impairments maintained by the SSA and referred to as the "Blue Book" of approved medical conditions. This list includes, but is not limited to:
Each disability case is considered on an individual basis. Therefore, you may still be eligible even if your condition is not listed above or in the Blue Book.
The Disability Application Process
A claim for disability benefits can be completed online, in person, or over the telephone. Before beginning, you should prepare the necessary documents and information in advance, including income tax statements, the names of prescription medications, and the dates of all medical procedures and therapy sessions. This will ensure the process goes more smoothly. The links below can provide an in-depth guide to the SSDI/SSI application, hearing, and appeals process, including the necessary forms.
Finding a Disability Attorney
Attorneys are generally not involved in most Social Security disability hearings or reconsiderations. However, if you have a complex claim or would like legal assistance or representation during the hearing or appeals process, an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer could help.