SSDI stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. It is a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a physical or mental disability. To be eligible for SSDI, an individual must have a sufficient amount of work credits and meet the SSA’s definition of disability.
Who is eligible for SSDI?
To be eligible for SSDI, an individual must meet the following criteria:
- The individual must have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
- The individual must have sufficient work credits, which are earned by paying Social Security taxes on earnings from work. The number of work credits required for eligibility depends on the individual’s age at the time of disability.
- The individual must not be currently engaging in substantial gainful activity. This means that the individual is unable to perform any work that is considered substantial, whether it be in terms of duties, hours, or pay.
- The individual must be unable to perform the work they previously did and not be able to adjust to other work due to their impairment.
In addition, the individual’s income and resources should not exceed the limits set by the SSA.
How much can I get from SSDI?
The amount of SSDI benefits you can receive depends on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled. The Social Security Administration (SSA) calculates your benefit amount based on a formula that takes into account your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME) and the number of work credits you have earned. The AIME is determined by taking your highest 35 years of earnings, adjusting them for inflation, and averaging them out.
For example, as of 2021, the maximum SSDI benefit for someone who becomes disabled at full retirement age (66) is $3,148 per month. However, most recipients receive less than the maximum amount, the average benefit paid to disabled workers is around $1,277 per month.
It’s also worth noting that if you are receiving SSDI benefits, you may also be eligible for other benefits such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) which are based on different criteria.
How to apply for SSDI
The process for applying for SSDI benefits can be done in several ways:
- Online: You can apply for SSDI benefits on the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) website at www.ssa.gov.
- By phone: You can call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) and make an appointment to apply over the phone.
- In-person: You can make an appointment to apply in-person at your local Social Security office.
When applying, you will need to provide the following information:
- Social Security number and birth certificate
- W-2 forms or self-employment tax returns for the past year
- Medical records and test results from your doctors and hospitals
- Names and addresses of your doctors, and the dates of your visits
- A list of medications you are taking and their dosages
It’s important to note that the process of applying for SSDI benefits can take a significant amount of time and it’s not uncommon for the initial application to be denied. If the application is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision and go through a hearing with an administrative law judge.