What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability (SSD), also known as SSDIB (Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits) or SSI (Supplemental Security Income) are benefits available to those who have a disabling condition or illness that prevents them from working and making a living. While SSD rarely replaces 100 percent of an individual’s pre-disability wages, it can make a huge difference in the lives of disabled people.
Under Social Security rules, a person is considered disabled if they are unable to engage in sustained gainful activity due to a severe medical condition (or conditions) that has lasted a year or is expected to last at least a year, or a condition expected to result in death. The severe medical condition(s) must prevent the individual from doing the same work they did in the past or adjusting to another type of work. SSD beneficiaries tend to be among the most severely impaired in the country because the Social Security Disability Act defines disability so strictly.
While we often think disability only strikes the elderly, disability is unpredictable and can happen to anyone at any age. In fact, according to Social Security, more than one in four current 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. Disability benefits can be a crucial source of financial support for those who need it most. Social Security Disability has been helping disabled Americans for more than 60 years. The number of disabled individuals has steadily increased over these years. There are currently some nine million Americans receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration each month.
How Can I Be Approved for Social Security Disability in Ohio?
While Social Security Disability is a federal program, the approval (or denial) rates vary significantly from state to state. For example, the state of Hawaii has the highest approval rate for those who apply for SSD—67 percent. This means that more than two-thirds of those applying for SSD are approved. The four states rounding out the top five for the highest approval rate for SSD applicants are Utah, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Tennessee (54 percent approval rating). Overall, an initial SSD application’s approval rate is barely more than one third (36 percent). According to the Ohio Disability Resource Center, the state of Ohio is one of the worst for approving initial SSD applications, at 30 percent—just one of the many reasons to have an experienced SSD attorney from Schaffer & Associates by your side.
Am I Eligible for Social Security Disability?
Of course, it is important that you know you are eligible for SSD benefits prior to filling out your initial application. Your attorney can help you make this determination; however, you will find the requirements for SSD below:
- For SSDIB purposes, you must have worked long enough—and recently enough—under Social Security to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security bases this on work credits, which are based on your total yearly wages or self-employment income. You can earn up to four credits per year, but the amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. For 2020, you will earn one work credit for each $1,410 in wages or self-employment income. Once you have earned $5,640, you have earned your four credits for the year. For 2021, you will earn one work credit for each $1,470 in wages or self-employment income. Once you have earned $5,880, you have earned your four credits for the year. Younger workers who are disabled may qualify with fewer credits, but in general, you will need a total of 40 credits, 20 of which you earned over the past ten years. This requirement is not in place for SSI purposes.
- You must not be earning more than the maximum allowed under the Substantial Gainful Activity rules. The SGA amount for those with a disability other than blindness is $1,260 per month as of 2020. This amount will increase to $1,310 for 2021.
- You must meet specific medical requirements to qualify for SSD—The Social Security Administration maintains a “Listing of Impairments” that will automatically qualify an individual with certain conditions for disability. If your medical condition is included or is equivalent to one in the “Listing of Impairments”, your chances of being approved are much higher. However, if your medical condition(s) is not included in the “Listing of Impairments”, but is severe enough to prevent you from being able to engage in sustained gainful activity, you can still be eligible for benefits.
What Does the Social Security Disability Application Process Entail?
You can apply for SSDIB benefits online at the Social Security website, www.ssa.gov, or in person at your local Social Security office (by appointment only). You can not apply for SSI benefits online; you can only file an SSI application at your local Social Security office (by appointment only). Be sure to fill out the application correctly. Many applications are rejected simply because they are missing necessary information. Having an experienced attorney, such as the attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, assist you with filing the application can ensure that the application is completed properly. Once your application has been submitted, it will be reviewed by an SSA case adjudicator, and a decision will be made.
If your initial SSD application is denied, do not despair! Contact a knowledgeable SSD attorney, such as the attorneys at Schaffer & Associates, who can appeal the decision. There are four levels of appeal following a denial of the original SSD application. These levels include reconsideration, a hearing by an Administrative Law Judge, a Review by the Appeals Council, and a Federal Court review. While these appeals undoubtedly take time, a significant number of SSD applicants who appeal are eventually approved. If approved, your benefits can be retroactive.
What Are Some Common Myths Associated with SSD?
There are many myths associated with Social Security Disability, such as:
- You must be disabled for a year prior to applying for SSD. If your medical condition is expected to last for 12 months or more or is terminal, you can qualify for SSD benefits. You do not need to wait a year before filing your application.
- You are not allowed to receive workers’ compensation and SSD at the same time. If your disability resulted from a work injury or illness, you can—and should—apply for workers’ compensation as soon as possible. While you can collect workers’ compensation and SSD simultaneously, your benefits may be offset or reduced.
- You are not allowed to work while collecting SSD. The Social Security Administration has programs known as work incentives in place that allow you to earn up to a certain amount per month and still maintain your eligibility for SSD. You may also choose to work a “trial” period, with no changes in benefits, regardless of the amount you make.
- You did not pay into Social Security so you are not eligible for disability benefits. You must pay into Social Security to qualify for SSDIB benefits. However, if you did not pay into Social Security, or did not pay in recently enough to qualify for SSDIB, but you meet the medical criteria for disability, you can be eligible for disability benefits known as SSI.
How an Experienced Schaffer & Associates Attorney Can Help with Your SSD
If you are disabled and unable to work due to a medical condition or illness, you may qualify for SSD benefits. It can be beneficial to have a compassionate, experienced Social Security Disability attorney from Schaffer & Associates helping you submit your initial application and deal with any appeals should your application be denied. We have been helping people just like you for years. We understand the process and will work hard to ensure you have the chance you deserve at being approved for SSD benefits. Contact Schaffer & Associates today for a free consultation.