If you have become disabled and unable to work, you often rely on a safety net to provide you with the payments that you need to support yourself. These can be from an employer-sponsored disability benefits program or from the federal government. Either way, it is not always easy to qualify for disability benefit payments.
How to Get SSDI Benefits
There are two parts to successfully qualifying for Social Security disability benefits:
- Providing medical information that proves that you are unable to work
- Demonstrating that you have the work history that makes you eligible for SSDI benefits
Of course, persuading the claims officer that you are medically disabled to the point where you deserve benefits is always going to be the most challenging part of the case. Social Security has a long track record of denying many claims for disability, including some that have obvious merit. Before you can even get to that point, you must meet the non-medical eligibility requirements for Social Security disability benefits.
You should not take it for granted that you will have the chance to qualify for Social Security Disability payments. You should pay close attention to the non-medical requirements before you file your application. Otherwise, it may be rejected without any consideration of your medical situation.
The Primary Non-Medical Requirement Is That You Have a Work History
One key requirement is that you have enough work history to qualify you for benefits. Your work history reflects the fact that you have paid into the Social Security Disability program through payroll taxes. The work requirements depend on your age at the time that you are applying for disability benefits. Although there is no minimum age to apply for benefits, you must have a certain work history at the time that you have applied.
Here are the prior work requirements for Social Security Disability:
- If you have become disabled before the age of 24, you need one and a half years of work history in the three years before you became disabled.
- If you have become disabled between the ages of 24 and 30, you need work history for at least half of the time after you have reached the age of 21.
- If you had become disabled after the age of 31, you would need a total of 5 years of work history In the 10 years prior to becoming disabled (20 work credits, which are three months each)
The Social Security Administration will calculate your benefit in part by reviewing your payroll tax contributions to see how much you have paid into the program. You should not count on Social Security knowing your work history. You need to provide the information that affirmatively demonstrates it.
How to Demonstrate Your Personal Work History
When you submit your claim, you will need to provide documentation that shows that you meet the prior work history requirements. Most often, this documentation will include:
- Pay stubs or bank account history that show a direct deposit
- W2s that you receive at the end of the year
- Your tax returns
- Job history and documentation of your employment
If you cannot qualify for SSDI benefits, there is a chance that you can qualify for SSI payments. The latter program is a need-based one that makes supplemental payments to those with very low incomes with no assets.
You Must Meet Income Limitations to Qualify
There are also income limitations for both the SSDI and SSI programs. For the SSDI program, you will need to be deemed unable to conduct substantial, gainful activity. If you earn more than $1,310 (2021 dollars), you will be unable to participate in the program. Since SSI is a needs-based program, the income limit is even lower.
If you are attempting to qualify for SSI disability payments, there are also asset-based limitations. The total amount of available resources to an individual is $2,000, while the cap for a couple is $3,000. In addition, you must be a United States citizen to apply for SSI benefits.
Usually, you will attempt to apply for disability benefits from an insurance policy provided to you from the job that you had before your disability. However, some employers do not provide this benefit, while insurance companies are also extremely strict about granting claims.
You may turn to SSDI if there is no possibility of short or long-term disability benefits elsewhere, especially after an insurance company has denied your claim and you cannot successfully appeal it.
Contact an Arkansas Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
The attorneys at Denton and Zachary can help you file an effective disability claims application that avoids many of the mistakes the applicants make on their own. We can also aggressively help you pursue benefits when the Social Security Administration has unfairly denied your claim. We can work on your claim from start to finish or after you have received notice that your claim has been denied.
To discuss your case with an experienced SSDI benefits attorney, you can call us at (501) 273-1695 or send us a message online.
Social Security Disability FAQs
What happens if my SSDI claim is denied?
Social Security gives you multiple steps to take to get a review of the initial decision. If you are still unsuccessful, you may take your case to federal court.
How does Social Security decide how much money I get?
Your monthly disability benefit amount is based on your earnings history from jobs that you had before you filed your claim. Your benefits then are increased yearly to reflect inflation.
Should I get a lawyer to help with my claim?
It depends on the complexity of your claim. You are usually better off when you get the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to prepare your application effectively.