Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that provides financial aid to individuals with a disability and who are unable to pursue a living as a result. Disability, as defined by SSDI, needs to fulfill certain eligibility criteria, which at a glance can include the following factors:
- The disability should be such that the individual is unable to pursue any kind of work that could support them financially.
- The disability should last for at least a year, or potentially last for a year.
- The Social Security office has a comprehensive list of disabilities, which outlines the disabilities served under SSDI.
However, there are more applicants for SSDI than claims that are approved. Here are some statistics from 2015 to illustrate this disparity:
2.4 million disabled workers applied for Social Security disability benefits while only 775,739 disabled workers were approved for these benefits. Moreover, the benefits of 817,045 disabled workers were terminated.
The Required Eligibility Documents
Stringent rules underline applications for SSDI, including documents and questions that applicants are asked or may be asked to prove that they are eligible for the benefits. These include conditions that can be qualified as a disability and that are eligible for benefits from the SSDI. Listed below are some of the documents needed to prove eligibility for such benefits.
- Proof of birth: birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status if you were not born in the United States
- U.S. military discharge paper(s) if you had military service before 1968
- W-2 forms(s) and/or self-employment tax returns for the previous year
- An Adult Disability Report containing details about one's work history and the disability-causing condition
- Medical reports and records, including any recently conducted tests as medical evidence of a disability
- Medical evidence already in your possession, including medical records, doctors' reports and recent test results
- Award letters, salary documents and pay stubs, settlement agreements or other proof of any temporary or permanent compensation-type benefits you received
Why are so many documents required?
If one is disabled, shouldn’t a medical document stating the disability and its nature be enough? In theory, such a document from the doctor or the health care facility treating the individual would be enough. But when applying for SSDI benefits, a more comprehensive list of documents is required to make you eligible.
When a claim for disability is approved, it translates into many benefits for the claimant, including financial aid, medical insurance, etc. SSDI benefits also take into account future increases in the cost of living, etc. As a result, the claimant must meet the criteria, including details regarding job history, potential of the disability to negatively affect work capabilities of the claimant, and so forth.
To be eligible for SSDI, the disability must be severe enough to impede work of any kind, as proven by medical documents and records. However, examining and concluding that it is severe enough involves several factors apart from assessing medical records. In part, this is helped by the fact that most claimants apply for benefits only when their disability is severe enough to actually impede their ability to work. Even then, it is up to the examiner to discern whether it results in a reduced ability to work leading to lesser earnings or a complete breakdown in the person’s ability to work.
Children are also eligible for disability benefits if a child has exhibited the disability within the school environment. This includes problems like asthma, seizures, cognitive disorders, etc. Parents need to file on behalf of their children, and claims are given the same stringent examination for eligibility.
Because eligibility criteria need to be examined thoroughly, it is always better to provide as many details as possible when filing a claim.
Sometimes, claimants make the mistake of assuming that the Social Security office will verify details of their condition themselves. Every detail, including doctors’ or caregivers’ information, should be provided to help with the verification of the disability.
Why You Need a Disability Lawyer or Advocate
Here’s another look at disability statistics for the past three quarters. There was nearly a 65% decline ratio.
Now let's look at the past few months of the year 2017:
As you can see in table above, the average ratio of acceptance is nearly 35%. If you don’t prepare your case with care, the chances of acceptance are rare!
If you, or someone you know, is considering applying for disability benefits, reach out to a professional who understands SSDI and disability. The actual process involves filling up a lengthy form and answering questions pertaining to the disability. While an individual suffering from it is the best person to provide these details, it helps to have a professional by your side for help with the technical details. Some of the questions asked include details on previous claims and any other disabilities filed for, whether you are expecting financial aid from your employer since the onset of the disability, details of dependent parents, children under the age of three years, children disabled before the age of 22 years, etc.
Details of the correct documents to collect, the proper way of answering questions, and even helping you with appealing in the case of an initial rejection are some of the areas in which an SSDI attorney can manage better.