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Understanding the Social Security Disability Application

Jun 11, 2008
Applying for Social Security Disability can be an intimidating experience. Did you know that you can apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled? To apply for benefits you'll want to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA). This can be done by phone, mail, online or by visiting a local Social Security office.

Note: You are eligible to receive benefits from the date that you become disabled. If you apply after one year of becoming disabled you will only be eligible for a maximum of one year of back benefits.

Social Security Disability has several names that you may or may not be familiar with. It can be abbreviated as SSD, but more often you'll hear of it either as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The two programs are under the umbrella of SSD, but each function differently.

Supplemental Security Income is available for those who have not worked enough to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, are in fact disabled, and economically qualified. Social Security Disability Insurance acts more as a policy to help those workers who have been contributing to the Social Security pool during their working career. Both programs cover full (total) disability only.

Recent Work Test:

Part of the SSD application process involves a recent work test. During this test the SSA reviews the disabled person's work history to determine if the person has worked long enough to quality for disability benefits. In general for those over the age of 31 passing the test means the person has worked 5 of the last 5 years prior to becoming disabled. Below are a few samples of recent work test requirements for a Social Security Disability application:

- < age 24: worked 1.5 of the last 3 years prior to becoming disabled

- Between age 24 and 31: Age when you become disabled minus 21, then divided by 2. Example a person age 27. This person would need to have worked 3 years from the time he turned 21 (math: 27 - 21 = 6. Then 6 / 2 = 3).

- Age 31 and older: worked 5 of the last 5 years prior to becoming disabled.

Lawyers and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Application Process:

There is a very strict definition to quality for SSI Disability. Completing the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) application is the first step to winning benefits. It is suggested you consider working with an experienced SSI lawyer during the application process. A lawyer will be able to work with you an help assemble to cause to present it in a manor that helps fulfill the strict requirements necessary to win disability benefits.

Lawyers and the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Application Process:

SSDI also has a strict definition. The first step a person needs to complete to win benefits is the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application. Persons seeking SSDI benefits may want to contact an experienced Social Security lawyer for assistance with the application. A lawyer will be able to help gather the proper documentation and medical evidence necessary to present your case in the most favorable manor to the SSA.

Before submitting a SSD application it is important to remember that the SSA awards disability benefits around strict criteria. Those that are awarded benefits have documented that their condition will last at least one year or result in death. The process to win benefits can be significant from a time perspective, sometimes lasting two or more years. It is recommended to consider working with a Social Security lawyer to help increase your chances of winning benefits. Remember, the earlier you involve a lawyer the earlier the process can be affected.
About the Author
Matt Berry is a lawyer and advocate who can help with a Social Security Disability application, including a SSDI application attorney assisted and SSI Disability application attorney assisted.
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