Many of us do not want to think about our mortality and getting hurt. I know I don’t! We also think it will never happen to us, but it does.
According to SSA.gov, studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a one in four chance of becoming disabled before reaching full retirement age. That is a 25% chance that they will incur some disability.
When you are young you think nothing will ever to happen to you. Now that I am approaching my 40s, the possibility seems a lot more realistic. I am not sure if it is just old age or the grueling CrossFit workouts, LOL.
The Social Security Administration pays disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
Who is Eligible to Receive Benefits?
If you are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in your death, you may be able to qualify for benefits. The Social Security’s definition of “disability” is very strict and does not pay partial benefits or benefits due to injury or sickness that are expected to last less than a year.
How to Qualify for Benefits
In addition to having a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in your death, you must also meet two different requirements:
- A test of your recent work history (this is based on your age at the time you become disabled).
- A duration work test (you essentially need to put in a certain amount of time by the time you become disabled to qualify).
SSA.gov has created two helpful charts, see below:
The next table from SSA.gov shows examples at different ages for how much time you will need to qualify:
How is the Decision Reached?
It is not an easy process for Social Security to reach a decision. Social Security uses a five-step process to make the decision:
- Are you working? If you are currently working and for 2017 you earn on average more than $1,170 per month, you generally will not qualify.
- Your condition must be severe, and limit your ability to do basic work.
- Your injury or sickness must be on Social Security’s list of impairments.
- Are you still able to perform the work you did before? If so, you will not qualify.
- If you are unable to perform the duties of your current occupation, but Social Security deems you’re able to perform another type of job, you will not qualify.
I Qualified for Disability Benefits — is My Family Eligible for Benefits?
Yes, according to SSA.gov. If you qualify for disability through Social Security, certain family members may also be entitled to benefits based on your work history:
- Your spouse if he or she is 62 or older.
- Your spouse at any age if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled.
- Your unmarried child younger than age 18 or 19 if still attending high school.
- Your unmarried child age 18 or older if he or she has a disability that started before age 22.
How Much is My Benefit For?
If you qualify for disability benefits and have not yet reached your full retirement age, your benefit will be your primary insurance amount.
For more information on your primary insurance amount, please read my other article: How to Accurately Calculate Your Primary Insurance Amount.
How Long Does it Take to Apply for Benefits?
It is a long process. The normal turnaround time for a decision usually takes three to five months. You want to apply for benefits as soon as the injury or sickness occurs. The Social Security Administration has created a great video series to help walk you through filing a claim, and I highly recommend watching it: Social Security Disability Claims Process.
You have to know it exists and understand how to apply, if you get injured or sick. When I work with my clients I always recommend they maximize their disability benefits if available from work. Additionally, I recommend a good stand-alone policy from a major insurance provider that specializes in this type of contract. If you have any questions on this subject, please get in touch with me, I am glad to help.
Additionally, if you want a comprehensive review, please take a look at our Social Security Solution Program. I put this program together from the feedback I have received from clients and readers of Social Security Teacher. This solution is designed specifically for those of you who want help and guidance in making the best decision for you and your family. I am a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, and have the experience to help you get there.
- 1 Council for Disability Awareness, Disability Statistics, 2013
- 2 U.S. Social Security Administration, Disabled Worker Beneficiary Data, December 2012