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What is Social Security Disability (SSDI/SSD)?

60 years ago Social Security disability insurance was created to provide financial security to disabled workers. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the program in terms of  eligibility, the application process, and the benefits.

Here’s what you need to know about SSD/SSDI at your initial application:

  • The agency that receives and approves/denies your application is the Social Security Administration Disability Determination Services (SSA DDS).
  • In terms of disability benefits, you are not considered “disabled”, until SSA DDS determines you to have..”you must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment(s): That is expected to result in death, or. That has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”
  • The DDS will send you questionnaires to complete and/or call you….yes you have to do it or you will be considered a “failure to cooperate” and your case will be closed. 
  • SSD/SSDI is NOT a lottery. The DDS has a step-by-step process or “policies and procedures” that they are required to follow in order to process your application. The best thing you can do is answer their questions and provide evidence to support the impairments you are alleging. 
  • Many applicants tend to believe that if they continue to apply they will eventually be allowed, but the reality is, the DDS looks at your age, education,  work history, and medical evidence. If you are approved after applying many times previously, it may have just been that your medical condition got worse or you got older.
  • You will need to provide contact information for any doctors, specialists, or other professionals that gave you a diagnosis that you are alleging as an impairment. Your “Examiner” or “Disability Program Specialist” will need to request the medical records to review.
  • If you have not been diagnosed by a healthcare professional (this includes for mental impairments) then the Examiner will request a medical exam (referred to as a “consultative exam”) for you. This is free, will be scheduled as close to your address as possible, and you will need to have transportation. In some states transportation may be provided, but this is not always the case.
  • The process of applying for Disability benefits is NOT quick. When you apply it will go through various departments within the DDS. It will take months or up to a year from the time you apply to the time the DDS makes a determination. Once your case is received by the Examiner assigned to your case, the turn around for a decision should take 60 days at most. However, many states have “backlogs” and your case may be assigned based on priority. Meaning, it’s important to you, but not as important compared to someone with a terminal illness. 
  • Your mental or physical allegations must either “meet” or “medically equal” a “listing” which you can check out for yourself here.
  • Disability benefits provide some financial assistance, but they will not likely be what you were previously earning as a paycheck. The monthly maximum Federal amounts for 2018 are $750 for an eligible individual, $1,125 for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse, and $376 for an essential person. These amounts can increase each year.
  • It takes up to 24 months from the date you are approved to receive Medicaid medical insurance.

Most people work for the obvious reason of providing shelter, food, and other necessities to themselves and/or families. In a perfect world a person will work, save, retire, and live comfortably in their old age. However, the world isn’t always perfect. Accidents, or health issues can arise. When a worker becomes incapacitated (either on the job or otherwise) this can cause loss of financial security, but also emotional distress related to the new limitations caused by their impairments. AyudaCon wants to ensure you are educated on this benefit to minimize any confusion and empower you through this new transition. Keep in mind that if you or someone you know is impaired and no longer able to work, AyudaCon is available to assist with the application and hearing process. Contact us for more information on our services.