Social Security Disability Insurance is a program funded and designed by the Federal government to offer monthly payments to people who become disabled (and as a result are not able to work) before they reach retirement age. To become eligible for SSDI benefits you must have worked a certain number of years where you contributed significantly to Social Security taxes and earned a certain amount of work credits. However, if for some reason you do not have enough work history or work credits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
The amount of work credit you need to have had depends on your age. For example, if you were 50 years of age before you became disabled, you need to have worked at least seven years to become eligible. Five of those seven years must be within the last ten years before your disability date. To be eligible, your disability is expected to be long-term (at least a year long), life-ending, severe, and should prevent you from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. (Substantial gainful activity SGA here implies that you currently earn $1,170 or more, monthly).
If you suspect that your disability could be long-term, it is advisable for you to inform the SSA about your disability as soon as possible, since the amount of back pays you will receive depends on your filing date. Filing for SSDI benefits can be a tedious process, and as such, there is no definite time it takes to complete the process. If you receive approval from the SSA right after your application, you are expected to wait at least five months before getting your paychecks. However, it is likely that your claim will not receive approval until 6-12 months after the application. It is conventional for Social Security to deny initial applications; only about 30% of initial applications receive approval. However, after denial applicants can request a review/reconsideration of their appeal within the next 60 days. During the reconsideration process, the SSA will review all documents and make another decision based on all evidence presented.
If your application is denied again (for some reason), you can still present your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) in a disability hearing. The disability hearing process offers applicants the best chance of having their claims approved. However, if the claim is denied again, you may still request for your case to be reviewed by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will usually review the case to determine if it received a decent treatment from the ALJ. If your claim does not receive approval at the Appeals stage, you may still request for a review by the Federal District Court; however, most cases rarely go this far. When filing your case, you can hire a Social Security disability lawyer to help with the application and appeals process. Most applicants find it beneficial because they are able to save a lot of time and stress. Disability lawyers only receive their pay after winning the cases of their clients
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