Your Social Security Disability Library
Consider us to be your library when it comes to information about Social Security disability benefits. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients.
Do I qualify?
Social Security law dictates that adults (age 18 and over) will be considered disabled if unable to work at a job because of a terminal illness or medical or mental disabilities lasting more than 12 months.
Children under age 18 are considered disabled because of physical or mental impairments accompanied by severe functional limitations.
Are there different plans?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees two benefit plans:
- the Social Security Disability Insurance Program (SSDI)
- the Supplemental Security Income Program (SSI). Both programs use similar definitions of what “disability” means, but they differ in terms of eligibility.
For SSDI, you must prove that you are disabled, but you also need to show that you were employed long enough to contribute to the Social Security system prior to claiming your disability; the phrase “work credits” is often used in this context.
SSI does not require that you worked. It is reserved for people over age 65, and disabled low-income individuals with fewer resources.
Monthly benefits are different for the two programs. SSDI factors in your earnings history when they calculate the amount you will receive, while SSI is based on need of the individual.
How do I file for disability benefits?
As you probably already guessed, filing for SSDI and SSI involves filling out quite a few forms. You can download these from the SSA website or your local Social Security office has paper copies. Forms needed are:
- Main disability application
- Disability report outlining your medical condition
- Questionnaire about your daily activities
- Work history report
- Medical records release giving SSA permission to review
You can apply online, in person at your local office, or even over the phone by calling SSA’s toll-free number (1-800-772-1213).There are representatives who can assist you with the forms and who can help determine your eligibility.