What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

SSDI is a federal financial assistance program run by the Social Security Administration. SSDI is similar to another Social Security program, Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs have almost identical names and purpose, but several noticeable differences exist between the programs. SSDI is an entitlement program, while SSI is a means-tested program. This means SSI provides basic living funds for a specific group of people. As a result, SSI has stricter requirements than SSDI.

As an entitlement program, SSDI is open to any United States resident who has paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years, though exceptions to this rule do exist. SSI has specific income requirements you must meet as the program is primarily intended for lower income residents. SSDI is available to any qualified residents, no matter their income level. The programs provide different levels of financial assistance. SSI uses flat payments, with some states offering additional supplemental payments. SSDI uses your wages to determine payments which typically results in SSDI providing larger financial assistance. More information about SSDI benefits and how you can apply for assistance is covered below.

Who Can Apply for SSDI Benefits in the United States?

Another one of the differences between SSDI and SSI benefits has to do with age. SSI benefits are open to both adults and children, while SSDI has a minimum age requirement of 18 years of age. Applicants must not already receive other Social Security benefits to qualify for SSDI payments. Applicants must be disabled and unable to safely work due to injury or medical conditions. Your condition must be expected to last for at least a year to qualify as disabled for the purpose of applying for SSDI benefits. Finally, you must not have been denied disability benefits within the last 60 days. This requirement is waived if you undergo an appeal process to reverse the decision to deny your previous disability claim.

Learn How to Apply for SSDI Benefits in the United States

Apply for SSDI benefits by completing a standard disability benefits application with the Social Security Administration. Complete the application in one of several different ways. These include online, in person at a Social Security office, by mail or over the phone. If you decide to apply in person, you must make an appointment with your chosen Social Security office.

Applying online for SSDI benefits is a popular option. The biggest advantage of applying online is not having any time restrictions. The application is lengthy, but you can save your application and take a break if you have any questions or need to retrieve additional information. The downside to completing the application online is you must do it on your own. If you are confused or have any questions, it is recommended you schedule an appointment or call to complete your application. It may take longer, but if you submit the wrong information you may inadvertently be denied benefits, which takes significantly longer to appeal.

What Information is Necessary to Apply for SSDI benefits?

The application for SSDI benefits is lengthy and involves submitting important information to confirm your identity, medical and employment history. Before you begin your application, it is strongly recommended to make a checklist to ensure you have all the necessary documents. If you do not have something available, take the time to pause the application and retrieve the proper documents, especially if it relates to your medical or financial history, which makes up the bulk of the application.

The first pieces of information on the application relate to you and your family’s identity. You must be able to provide your Social Security number and your birthdate. If you are married or were previously married, provide the Social Security and birthdate of your spouse. In addition, provide the date and location you were married. If your spouse passed away, provide the date of death. Finally, if you are divorced you must provide the date of divorce. Next, list the names and birthdates of any children. If you want your SSDI benefits deposited directly into your account, provide a routing transit number for your bank.

Medical Information

The next section of the application has to do with your medical condition. Before you get into the specifics, provide contact information for someone familiar with your medical conditions. This includes your general physician and any medical specialists you see. You must list as much information as possible, including their names, addresses and phone numbers. Additional sections are provided to list the dates of your recent treatments and your patient ID number.

Once you provide information pertaining to your doctors and recent medical visits, list all the medicine you currently take to treat your condition. When you list a medication or treatment, make sure you include which doctor prescribed it. Finally, provide a list of recent medical tests you had performed, including the name of the doctor who performed the test. Make sure you have the dates of the tests as well.

Work Information

The SSDI applications require work history for both the current and previous year. The section starts with you listing how much money you earned from work in this and the previous year. Next, list the name and addresses of all your employers from the last two years. If you were active in the military before 1968, you must fill out additional sections regarding your military history. Check previous tax records, W-2 or 1099 forms to gather this information.

For the next section, you must list up to five of the last jobs you had any time within the last 15 years before you were unable to work because of your condition. Include the dates you were employed as well. If you received any sort of worker’s compensation from these jobs, list whether it was a temporary or permanent payment and how much you received or continue to receive. This includes Black Lung Benefits, Longshore and Harbor Worker’s Compensation, retirement funds and other forms of disability.