When you have a long-term illness or disability, you face many challenges. You may need financial support to help you pay your medical bills, replace lost wages, and stay financially stable. Social Security Disability is a program that can help you; unfortunately, SSD is incredibly complex and confusing.
If you are considering applying for Social Security Disability, there are a few things you need to know. We’ll explain the most commonly used and important SSDI terms, below. And remember: if you still have questions after reading this post, feel free to call our office to speak with an experienced, qualified professional.
Let’s take a look at each term in depth.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD): Social Security Disability is a type of insurance offered by the Social Security Administration. You contributed to this program through payroll taxes. This program offers benefits to people who can no longer work due to long-term illness or disability. In order to qualify for benefits, an individual has to have worked for a certain number of years and within a certain amount of time.
Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI): Supplemental Security Insurance is also a program that offers benefits to disabled individuals; however, this program is funded by general taxes and is need-based: this means that it is not tied to your employment history.
Medically determinable impairment: Having what’s called a “medically determinable impairment” is the first condition that you must meet to get SSDI benefits. “Medically determinable” means that your injury or illness can be verified by a doctor. “Impairment” means that your injury or illness prevents you from doing substantial gainful work (see below).
Compassionate Allowance: The Social Security Administration has a list of impairments (it’s “blue book”) that are serious enough to qualify for benefits. The SSA uses this list when determining whether your medical condition qualifies. In addition to this list, the SSA also has a list of conditions that are so severe that they require special treatment. If you or a loved one have a condition that is on this list, your claim will likely be expedited so that you can get benefits as soon as possible.
Recent work test: You must pass the recent work test and the duration of work test, below, to qualify for benefits. The recent work test varies based upon your age; for example, if you are over 31, you have to have worked for five of the last 10 years before your disability. (You can see all of the requirements for the recent work test here.)
Duration of work test: The duration of work test is the other employment-related test required to qualify for SSDI. Like the recent work test, the requirements are based on your age. To pass this test, you need to have worked a certain number of years; however, this test is based on the total number of years worked, not when they were worked.
Substantial gainful work: Your medical condition must prevent you from doing “substantial gainful work” in order to qualify for SSDI. This means that you aren’t able to do your previous job or any job that pays $1,170 per month.
Residual functional capacity: If your medical condition isn’t included in the SSA’s blue book, the SSA will look at your residual functional capacity. This process involves looking at your medical records and work history to determine how much and what type of work you are able to do.
Medical-vocational analysis: This analysis takes place after the residual functional capacity evaluation. It determines if you can do your previous job (the job you had before becoming disabled) or if you can learn to do a different job. This depends on your education level and skill set.
Back pay: It can take some time for a SSDI claim to be processed and approved. “Back pay” refers to the money that you would have gotten had your claim been approved immediately. You still get these benefits, but they come after your claim is approved. The amount of back pay you receive is determined according to the date you began your claim.
Auxiliary benefits: These are the benefits that your children, spouse, or other family members may be able to receive. In some cases, even an ex-spouse can receive Social Security Disability benefits. Whether or not they receive benefits depends on their age and several other factors.
Ticket to Work: This is a program designed to help disabled individuals receive the training they need to go to work, for free. This program is not mandatory: it is designed for individuals who want to try to return to work.
The Social Security Disability claims process is difficult to navigate on your own—especially when you’re dealing with a disability. It helps to have a professional on your side.
If you still have questions, we would be happy to answer them. Call us today to speak with one of our knowledgeable Social Security Disability attorneys.