Did you know that studies have proved that 3 out of every 10 20-year old workers will become disabled somehow before they reach full retirement age? This staggering figure is from the actual Social Security booklet and while it seems very high, it’s completely accurate. Not all of this is due to on-the-job injuries or terrible accidents, some of it can be due to mental conditions that put someone in a position where they simply cannot work and be self-sufficient anymore.
Social Security disability covers three very different realms and these are Social Security disability insurance (sometimes called SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Benefits For Children With Disabilities (usually called SSI also). Each of these is very different but they have one thing in common. They are very hard to apply for and get approved on your own. If you talk to anyone receiving these benefits, they will tell you it’s a terribly long and frustrating process and if you can’t work during this long process, it’s not uncommon for people to end up homeless or living in very poor conditions. This presents quite a problem.
The easiest way to apply for these benefits in any capacity is to use a service that specializes in Social Security disability applications and works on your behalf to get all your paperwork, evidence, identification and important items in order. This is often a type of law firm that works relatively inexpensively and can speed up the process from 2-3 years to just a couple of months in many cases depending on the severity of the disability, the state you’re applying in and other factors.
Let’s take a look at each type of disability before we continue so you can figure out what you should be applying for and whether or not you meet the criteria.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security disability insurance is primarily funded through payroll taxes accumulated by workers throughout their lifetime. These people have worked for a while and have accumulated “work credits” that count toward how much they can receive on a monthly basis. If you haven’t worked at all, you won’t qualify for very much but if you’ve worked steadily for many years, you’ll be eligible for much more per month. This varies greatly and the only way to truly know what amount you qualify for is to log in to the Social Security Website and check. You will have to create an account initially. Most of the time your spouse and/or children will receive benefits as well.
This type of disability insurance may or may not give you access to Medicare right away depending on your situation and this can pose a large problem if you need medical care or prescription assistance. Typically the state you live in will help out with free or reduced cost care and prescriptions until Medicare is fully kicked in.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income or SSI is a Federally funded income supplementation program funded by all the taxpayers in the nation. This program is for people who are elderly, blind or legally disabled and have very little or no income. This program will provide a monthly income allowance to help pay for housing, food, clothing and basic needs. The eligibility for this program fluctuates yearly as new laws are passed or repealed and a professional legal counsel is one of the best routes to make sure an application for SSI goes smoothly. It’s extremely common for SSI applications to be denied 1 or more times and you’ll have to appeal.
The proper description for an adult eligible for SSI benefits is someone with a mental or physical impairment that results in an inability to work for income, can be expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months in a row.
Benefits For Children With Disabilities
This is a form of the Supplemental Security Income coverage mentioned above but is restricted to children under 18 years of age. Unlike adults, children aren’t able to be gainfully employed so their eligibility is a little different.
The definition of a child with a disability means the child has a mental or physical condition that severely limits their activities and this condition has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death. There will need to be a lot of information to back this condition up and proof that it’s very severe. An unruly child in school will not qualify but a child who is unruly due to a mental disorder may qualify. The child’s household income is another factor that can help Social Security determine eligibility. If a child does not qualify, other programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) may be able to help with some medical issues and prescription coverage.
The Application Process
Applying for any type of Social Security benefits can be the hardest and most arduous, drawn out frustrating thing you’ll ever experience. If you’re in pain or have a mental condition, it can be next to impossible to apply properly with all your necessary items in order. If there’s nobody around to help, you may put it off for years or simply skip it and spend the rest of your life in pain or suffering. You don’t want that and it’s completely avoidable by simply getting help with the application, filing and appeal should you need it.
Here’s a short list of things you’ll need before beginning the application process:
- Your birth certificate and state issued ID card
- Your Social Security card and number
- Pay check stubs for as long as you can go back. The longer the better and every single job.
- Bank account statements for every account in your household. 1 years’ worth is recommended. The bank may charge for this.
- Complete medical records from every doctor you’ve visited. If you can get every single one since you were a child, do it. If not, get all records related to what exactly is causing the disability. You may want to visit them before the application process and let them know this is what you’re doing. They could be very valuable.
- A list of all jobs you’ve worked
- A list of all places you’ve lived. Exact addresses.
- References: Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and anyone who knows of your disability
These items are important and if you have them all organized in advance it could save you quit a bit of time in the long run. Keep in mind, you can do the application yourself in the office or online but be prepared to wait months or years as the process is first accepted, evaluated, processed then a determination is made. If you have to appeal it will take much longer. A professional service can drastically cut this time and you pay them nothing up front most of the time.