Do I qualify for Disability Pay?


#1

Hi everyone, thanks for making this such a supportive and helpful community.

I was wondering if anyone knows the requirements/qualifications for receiving Disability Pay? Thanks and keep fighting!


#2

Hi Warren I was just doing some research on this and thought I’d share what I learned (get ready for a bunch of acronyms!). Also, if you need more specific information for your situation, you can call 1-800-772-1213 to speak to a social security representative. Here goes:

ELIGIBILITY:
To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must have a medical condition that prevents them from working, which is expected to last at least one year. They also must not be able to achieve what’s called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA). SGA is determined by monthly earnings and the category of the disability itself (i.e. the SGA amount is higher for statutorily blind individuals). For this 2019 year, the monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals is $2040, while for non-blind individuals it is $1220. Next, it’s important to know that there are actually 2 forms of disability benefits programs maintained by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The first program is “Social Security Disability Insurance” (SSDI or SSD), which pays benefits to you and certain family members. As a side note, an applicant’s adult child may qualify for benefits on your earnings record if he/she has a disability that started before the age of 22. To be eligible for SSDI, an applicant must 1. have worked and paid Social Security taxes for enough years to be covered under Social Security (it really is an insurance program), 2. be deemed medically disabled (more details of what the SSA’s list of impairments includes: https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm), and 3. either not be working or earn less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. To determine whether or not you’ve paid enough social security taxes into the program to qualify (#1 above), you must build up “work credits.” Each year that you work and pay FICA taxes, you earn work credits - in 2019 a worker gets one work credit for each $1,360 in income, up to 4 credits per year. For SSDI your age when you begin reporting your disability determines how many work credits you need - a table can be found here: https://www.disability-benefits-help.org/glossary/work-credits.

The second program is “Supplemental Security Income” (SSI), which pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and resources. You can be between 18-65 with a disability or older than 65 without a disability to apply. To be eligible, "an applicant must meet the following three conditions: they must have little or no income or resources, be considered medically disabled, and either not be working or working but earning less than the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level. The SSA takes a bunch of things into account when determining “little or no income or resources” so I’d highly recommend calling the number at the top to talk to someone about your specific inquiry if you need it.

Although I haven’t tried it myself, I found a questionnaire tool that may help you determine eligibility for all kinds of benefits from the SSA: https://ssabest.benefits.gov/benefits/benefit-finder#benefits&qc=cat_31

APPLYING:
For most people, “disability” is determined the same way under both programs, which is determined by sharing information with the SSA. For application methods, questions you’ll be asked, and documentation you’ll need, check out this link: https://www.ssa.gov/forms/ssa-16.html

It is possible, even likely, that your application will get denied (based on what I’m reading most 1st applications are). If that happens, you should consider appealing that decision here: https://secure.ssa.gov/iApplsRe/start - but do it sooner rather than later because you only have 60 days from when you receive news that your application was denied.

EXTRA INFO:
The last thing that may be useful to know is that there’s a trial work period after you’ve started receiving SSDI where you can try working more/again while still receiving SSDI. SSDI will not be considered as ended until services have been performed in at least 9 months (not necessarily consecutive) in a rolling 60-month period. In 2019, any month with at least $880 earned counts as one of those 9 months, but you’ll have to check the earnings amounts going back 60 months (5 years) to determine whether you still qualify as this monthly earnings amount changes every year.

Hope this is helpful!