If you are struggling with a recent disability that has severely affected your ability to work, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). However, as soon as you begin researching the qualifying requirements for SSDI, you may find yourself confused by the intricacy of the program’s application process. How does the SSDI program differ from other forms of support and how can you be sure you qualify for benefits?
What’s the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?
Many make the mistake of assuming SSDI and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the same. While SSDI is an earned benefit that provides monetary assistance to those who become disabled and are no longer able to work before reaching age 65, SSI is based on income and assets only. SSI is available to those aged 65 and older, or any adult who is blind or disabled. To qualify, the adult must have less than $2,000 in assets and minimal monthly income and it does not matter how long they have worked in their lifetime, if at all. Since the many programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) are so detailed, talk to an insurance or financial advisor to clarify the differences before pursuing an application to either program.
Proving a Qualifying Disability
To begin, only apply for SSDI if you have not yet retired and are under age 65. You cannot collect Social Security retirement at the same time as disability income. The first step in ensuring you are eligible for SSDI benefits is gathering all medical documents noting the extent of your disability. You must provide actual medical records to the SSA or else they may deny your application.
While your health condition may prevent you from continuing in your current line of work, you may not technically be “disabled” by the SSA’s standards. A qualifying disability is one in which the individual is completely prevented from completing any type of work in any capacity for a period of at least 12 months.
Have You Earned Enough Work Credits?
Another factor determining eligibility for SSDI benefits is the amount of work credits earned throughout the applicant’s lifetime. SSDI is paid from payroll taxes. The amount of work credits needed to qualify solely depends on the individual’s age. For the most part, individuals who have worked consistently throughout their lives will have obtained the maximum four earned credits per year, affording them more than enough to satisfy the SSDI requirements.
Adjusting to a new way of life with a disability is a challenging time for adults of any age, but specifically older adults approaching retirement age. When researching any financial assistance or insurance, from SSDI benefits to Medicare, turn to My Senior Health Plan for caring, personalized support and factual information.