If you find yourself unable to work due to injury or illness, filing a disability claim is crucial. Disability benefits safeguard your income and ensure access to necessary healthcare. Knowing the criteria for qualifying as disabled is the initial step in initiating a claim.

What is considered a disability according to the US government?

To qualify for disability benefits in the U.S., the following conditions must be met:

  • A physician must diagnose the condition, 
  • The disability must last for at least 12 months (or lead to death)
  • It must prevent you from performing your current job
  • Lastly, your disability hinders your ability to engage in other forms of employment. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates eligibility through a claim submission, where you provide necessary information about your medical and possibly work history for their assessment.

Types of disability benefits

Disability claims typically fall into two main categories: 

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) 
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

SSDI is based on your work history and tax contributions, while SSI is needs-based, considering income and assets. SSDI requires a certain work history, while SSI has no work requirements but has strict limits on income and assets. Both programs (SSDI and SSI) aim to provide financial assistance to individuals facing disability due to injury or illness.

What is the process of submitting a disability application?

Securing disability benefits is a multi-step process. 

  • It starts with the initial application, which is time-consuming and takes 3-6 months for a decision.
  • If denied, the next step is the reconsideration stage, where you appeal within 60 days. 
  • Reconsideration often results in denial, leading to a crucial hearing stage where additional evidence is presented. 
  • Working with a lawyer increases your chances, as about 50% win at this stage. 
  • Further appeals are available if needed, making the process intricate and potentially lengthy.

When should I apply for the disability benefits?

Applying for disability benefits is advisable as soon as you become disabled, considering the five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits to commence from the sixth month of disability. You can apply online, reach out to an SSA representative, or seek guidance from experienced lawyers.

Disability benefits denied? Contact a lawyer

An experienced Social Security disability attorney can guide you through the complex process of applying for disability benefits by helping you gather necessary medical evidence ensuring your application is thorough and accurate. They have expertise in navigating the legal intricacies and can provide valuable support and representation.