If you suffer from a disability that keeps you from being able to perform the work you need to in order to pay your bills, then you may be considering filing for Social Security disability benefits. Of course you should file, because the taxes you have paid throughout your life have gone to other Social Security disability recipients, and you deserve these benefits just as much as they do. However, it is important to learn as much as you can about who qualifies for benefits and the SSDI application process before you apply so that when you do file, you can increase your chances of having your disability claim approved as quickly as possible.
Read on to learn two things you must know before filing for Social Security disability benefits that will help keep the filing process as speedy and stress-free as possible.
1. You Must Have Earned Enough Work Credits to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you not only have to have a disability that will keep you from being able to work for at least 12 continuous months, but you must also have accumulated a certain number of "work credits" while you were able to work.
Work credits are based on how much income you earned while working each year you were employed; the specific income requirement for a work credit is re-calculated by the Social Security Administration each year, but as of 2016, $1,300 of income during a calendar year equals one work credit. However, the number of work credits anyone can earn in a single year is capped at four.
The number of work credits you need to have accumulated to file for SSDI benefits depends on your age; the older you are, the more work credits you need to have accumulated. When you earned the credits also matters — a specific number of credits must have been earned in "recent years," and that number also varies based on the age of an SSDI applicant.
It is a good idea to calculate the number of work credits you have earned before you apply for Social Security disability benefits because if you haven't earned enough, you will need to file for supplemental security income, or SSI, instead. Supplemental security income is available to all people who are disabled as long as they meet certain income and asset guidelines.
2. The Processing of Your Application Can Be Sped up If You Qualify for a Compassionate Allowance
Of course, since you cannot work, you want your SSDI application to be processed and approved as quickly as possible. However, it can take up to 90 days for the Social Security Administration to process an SSDI claim, and if the initial claim is denied, you must file for a reconsideration appeal, which can take an additional 60 days for the administration to process.
There are several ways to ensure you get your SSDI claim processed as quickly as possible, and if you qualify for a compassionate allowance, the administration will process your SSDI application in as little as several weeks. The SSA keeps a list of health conditions that meet the compassionate allowance qualifications on their website, and the list includes many forms of cancer, mixed dementia, idopathic pulmonary fibrosis, and many other acute medical conditions.
If you don't qualify for a compassionate allowance, then there are still steps you can take to speed up the SSDI approval process. You can increase your chance of having your claim approved on the first try and not having to file for a reconsideration appeal by having a Social Security attorney help you complete the application as accurately as possible, while providing all of the necessary documentation the SSA needs to approve your application.
In addition, many people who apply for SSDI benefits do not provide all of the medical documentation that the SSA needs to approve their application in a timely fashion, so submitting as much medical documentation as you can with your claim can speed up the process greatly. Specific medical records needed can vary from health condition to condition, but physician treatment notes, copies of bloodwork results and other health tests, and the dates of your visits to your physicians are just a few of the types of medical documentation the SSA will need to approve your claim.
If you cannot work due to a health problem, then filing for SSDI is a great way to help you begin to pay your bills in a timely fashion again. Learning as much as you can about who qualifies for SSDI and how to speed up the approval of your application before you apply can help make the SSDI application process as speedy and stress-free as possible.