A medical condition that prevents you from working need not become a financial hardship. There are two Social Security disability (SSD) programs that provide monthly payments. The law and regulations for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) programs are complicated and the process to file and qualify for benefits can be a challenge, but you do not have to attempt it on your own.
An SSD attorney at the Law Office of Daniel Berger takes you through each step of the process beginning with an evaluation of your finances and medical condition whether you meet the requirements to qualify for benefits. The attorney takes this first meeting as an opportunity to go over the programs with you and spend time answering any questions you have or addressing any of your concerns. The following information offers an introduction to the programs and you need to file for SSD.
How does Social Security determine that you are disabled?
Both programs, SSI and SSD, require that you be disabled and unable to work. That may sound easy enough, but the law establishes a specific definition and criteria to meet for Social Security to determine that you have a disability that qualifies for benefits.
Adults applying for SSI and SSD benefits based on being disabled must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments causing them to be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. The impairment must be expected to cause death or must have already lasted or be expected to last for 12 continuous months. Children under 18 years of age must meet a different definition for disability under the SSI program.
A child is disabled when a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or combination of impairments causes marked and severe functional limitations. The limitations must be expected to last or have already lasted for a continuous period of at least 12 months, or they must be expected to cause the death of the child.
You need medical records that establish a history of diagnosis and treatment. The records should include notes concerning examinations and evaluations conducted by health care professionals, reports of diagnostic and laboratory testing, and clinical findings. For adults with mental impairments and children applying for SSI, evaluations by psychologists, certified social workers, and psychiatrists would be needed to prove the impairment.
Work and financial criteria to qualify for SSD
If filing for benefits through the SSI program, whether for yourself or a child, there are strict financial requirements to meet. The purpose of the SSI program is to assist blind or disabled individuals and couples who have limited financial resources and income. You cannot own assets, which Social Security refers to as resources, with a total value above $2,000 for one person and $3,000 for a couple.
The following are some of the resources with values that count toward the SSI limits:
- Money on hand and deposited at banks and other financial institutions.
- Motor vehicles, except the value of one vehicle used by you or a member of your household as personal transport which does not count.
- Real property that you own, except that Social Security does not count the value of a home you own and occupy as your principal residence regardless of how much it is worth.
Your income cannot exceed the monthly federal benefit rate, which for 2021 is $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple.
The SSD program does not put limits on your resources or income. It does, however, require that you have a history of working at jobs or through self-employment and paying Social Security taxes on the income. How long you need to have worked depends on your age at the onset of the disability. Younger workers who become disabled require a shorter work history than would an older worker.
What do you need to file for SSD?
You can help your attorney file for SSD for you by gathering documents containing information needed for the application:
- A birth certificate or other public birth record.
- Proof of U.S. citizenship, such as a passport.
- Proof of income.
- Proof of resources.
- Medical records you may have in your possession.
Your SSD attorney will let you know about other documents or information that may be needed based upon the circumstances specific to your claim for benefits.
Consult an experienced disability lawyer
Avoid the temptation to file for SSD without at least consulting with an SSD attorney from the Law Office of Daniel Berger. Our skilled and knowledgeable disability attorneys know and understand the complex rules, regulations, and procedures that must be complied with to avoid delays or a denial of your claim for SSD. Contact us today to discuss filing a new application or appealing a denial of an application that you previously filed.