Anyone can become disabled, whether temporarily or permanently, affecting their lives in so many ways, especially financially. Fortunately, Social Security disability benefits can provide for your family if an injury, disability, or illness prevents you from working and generating income.

However, the process to apply for disability benefits can be complicated and tiresome as it may last for a year or longer if your application was denied. The difficult part of the application is to prove that you qualify for the benefits which can be tricky to do. This guide will show you how to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and what you should have to qualify for it.

What are the Qualification Requirements for SSDI?

First of all, you should have a sufficient number of work credits. Generally, you need 20 credits in the 10 years before you’ve become disabled, and 40 credits overall. The work credit requirements vary depending on how old you were when you got disabled.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a chart showing the number of credits you should have from age 31 to 60. If you are younger than 31, the requirements are different as you can be qualified if you have a minimum of 6 work credits in 3 years before your disability.

If you earn a certain amount of income each month which is called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), you won’t be qualified for Social Security Disability Insurance. The GSA level changes every year. In 2021, if you earn at least $1,310 from working, or $2,190 if you are blind, the SSA will consider you to have engaged in SGA and you won’t be able to receive SSDI benefits.

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Typically, you should be suffering from a disability that is preventing you from working. The SSA has added medical conditions that qualify as a disability, and if you suffer from any ailment that’s not included in their list, then you won’t qualify for SSDI benefits. The broad medical condition categories that are considered a disability for adults according to the SSA are:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders such as Arthritis
  • Special Senses and Speech such as Statutory Blindness and Hearing Loss
  • Respiratory disorders including Asthma
  • Digestive System issues such as Short Bowel Syndrome
  • Cardiovascular System including heart disease
  • Genitourinary disorders
  • Hematological disorders
  • Skin disorders
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Congenital disorders
  • Neurological disorders
  • Mental disorders
  • Cancer
  • Immune System disorders

Finally, you must prove that you can’t do any job you are qualified for. If you can’t do your current job but are qualified to do another job, your application will be rejected for SSDI benefits. They will analyze your transferable skills and find you a job despite your disability.

How to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance?

If you meet the qualification criteria, it is time to apply for SSDI benefits by applying online if you are 18 years or older, not receiving benefits on your social security currently, disabled for at least a year or result in death, and haven’t been denied benefits in the last 60 days.

You can go on the application process by yourself, but the SSD attorneys at say that having an attorney by your side will improve your chances of obtaining the SSDI benefits and they are more aware of the procedures and the documents needed. After applying online, you should go to your local Social Security Office with the required documents, or you can mail them. The documents needed are:

  • Date and place of birth
  • Work history
  • Current earnings
  • Household income and assets
  • Your bank or financial institution
  • Contact information of current and previous employers
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Medical records proving your disability
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Reviewing and Appealing

After submitting the documents, the Social Security Office will examine your documents to determine if you qualify for SSDI benefits, then send your medical records to the disability claims examiner to review your medical records.

If your application gets denied, there are a few stages of appeal that you can follow. You might ask for a reconsideration within 60 days with another disability claims examiner. You can ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. Appeal to the SSA’s internal appeal board, and if all fails, you can appeal to a federal court.

The process of Social Security Disability Insurance application is sensitive and complicated. You can do it all by yourself, but having an attorney who is experienced in SSD claims will increase the chances that your application will be accepted. You must prove you have enough work credits and have the medical records and documents to prove that you can’t do any job you are qualified for.