Every day, thousands of people with disabilities apply for government assistance. Whether they are applying to be on Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), the process can be daunting and confusing. This article will explore the steps you need to take if you have a disability and would like to apply for benefits from either SSI or SSDI.
Short-term vs. Long-term Disability Benefits
First, it is important to know the difference between long-term disability benefits and short-term disability benefits. When it comes to SSI entitlements, they allow you long-term disability benefits while SSDI only offers short-term disability benefits. SSDI income amounts are determined by how much you have paid into the Social Security system through taxes.
Qualifying for Benefits
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, your condition must be expected to improve in eighteen months or less, even with treatment. If your medical condition is expected to last longer than eighteen months, then you should qualify for SSI. For both programs, you must also be medically disabled for at least twelve months before applying and unable to work due to that medical condition.
To apply, visit your local Social Security office and fill out the application. You should expect it to take about an hour to complete and you will need a lot of paperwork:
- Medical records from your doctor and hospitals
- Financial records, including pay stubs and bank statements
- Proof of age- such as a birth certificate or other documents
- Proof of identity- such as a driver’s license or passport
- Three letters of reference from friends or family who can attest to your daily difficulties due to your condition
You’ll want to be sure that the person writing the letter understands what you are going through so they can provide an accurate description of how difficult life has become since your diagnosis. When applying for SSI, you must also fill out a form in order for your child (if you have one) to receive benefits as well.
What If Your Application Gets Denied?
If you applied for SSI and were denied benefits, don’t be discouraged. You can appeal the decision and you’ll likely receive a hearing within sixty days of your initial application. The same goes for applying for SSDI benefits; if your claim gets denied, appealing is often successful. If it’s not, then hiring an attorney will definitely help your chances of receiving benefits.
Why You Should Hire a Lawyer
A lawyer can quickly and easily help you apply for both SSDI and SSI benefits. If your initial application is denied, having a good attorney on your side will increase your chances of receiving benefits by as much as fifty percent.
When someone has a disability they struggle to pay their bills and regularly buy groceries because, by the time they cover these necessities, they don’t have any left to pay the rest of their bills. If you are looking for disability benefits but don’t want to wait a long time because your family needs this money now, it is a good idea to get a lawyer to help you with your case. The more education and experience that you have along with being able to show the court how much money you make and what your job requirements are, the easier it will be to get approved. Having a good lawyer on your side is the best way to ensure that you get disability benefits fast within two to six months.
Although it may seem like a long time since your family needs the money now, remember that even though this money will help you pay your bills and buy groceries, it is a long process to get the disability benefits that you deserve. The last thing someone with a disability should do is take on too much responsibility because it can be very stressful and it could leave you feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and even depressed.
Other Benefits Available
Even if your condition is not severe enough to receive SSDI or SSI, there are other state and federal programs that you may qualify for, including Social Security Disability Income (SSD), Medicare, Medicaid, Vocational Rehabilitation, food stamps, and more. Also, it helps to know what kind of job flexibility your boss has given you so that if they allow telecommuting options, you will know what to do in the event of an emergency. The worst thing someone with a disability can do is assume they won’t be approved for benefits so they don’t even bother applying. Remember – the process takes time but once you start receiving your monthly checks, you’ll realize it was all worth it.
As you can see, there are a few important steps to take if you would like help with your disability benefits. It is worth noting that even if your condition isn’t severe enough to receive SSI or SSDI, it doesn’t mean that other state and federal programs aren’t available for you.