When Your Benefits Start
Generally, if your application for Social Security Disability Insurance is approved, you must wait five months before you can receive your first SSDI benefit payment. This means you would receive your first payment in the sixth full month after the date we find that your disability began.
Example: Your disability began on June 15, 2020 and you applied on July 1, 2020. Your first benefit would be paid for the month of December 2020, the sixth full month of disability.
However, there is no waiting period if your disability results from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and you are approved for SSDI benefits on or after July 23, 2020.
Example: We found that your disability began on November 3, 2020 and you applied on January 11, 2021. We would pay your first benefit for the month of December 2020, the first full month of disability.
We pay SSDI benefits in the month following the month for which they are due. This means that the benefit due for December 2020 would be paid to you in January 2021, and so on.
Information We Need About Your Work And Education
To decide whether you are disabled, we use a five-step process. Listed below are frequently asked questions about Step 4 and Step 5 of the process.
We need to find out about your past work to decide if you can still do it. To make this decision, we need to know how you did your job. We also need to know if you learned skills on your job.
We need this information to see if you can do any of your past work. Remember that you are not disabled according to our rules unless your illnesses, injuries or conditions prevent you from doing your past work or adjusting to other work.
Information about your education and training are also very important to us. If you cannot do your past work, we look at your age, education, training, and work experience to see if you can do other kinds of work.
Disclaimer: The following is general information only. The Social Security Act and related regulations, rulings and case law should be used or cited as authority for the Social Security disability programs.
Benefits For Disabled Children
Children with disabilities can be eligible for Social Security benefits, but the requirements and application process can be arduous. Social Security says that the child must have a physical or mental condition that severely limits their activity and is expected to last more than one year or result in the childs death.
The family must also have few, if any, other financial options for providing care. Social Security considers the familys household income, additional resources, and other factors in making that determination.
If the child and their family qualify, the child may receive up to half of the parents full retirement or disability benefit. A disabled child could receive a benefit of 75% of the workers benefit if the worker has died. A child who is 18 or older is also eligible if they suffer from a disability that began no later than age 22.
For families that are in this situation, it’s worth noting that there are other government programs, such as Medicaid, that have provisions to assist children and adults with disabilities.
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Strategy For Deciding When To Take Early Retirement
While some people who quit work at age 62 purposefully apply for disability and elect early retirement at the same time, so that the early retirement payments fill the gap until the disability payments start, remember that there is no guarantee you’ll be granted disability benefits, and you could be stuck collecting less than your full retirement rate for the rest of your life. Still, this can work for those people who are severely impaired and are sure that they will get disability benefits. Getting disability benefits for those over 60 is easier than for younger folks, and Social Security gives special consideration to those over 65.
If you are considering this course of action, talk to a , who can help you assess your financial options and your chances of winning disability benefits.
If Your Application Is Denied
After we review your application and the information you provided, we may decide you do not meet the qualifications for disability benefits.
If you disagree with our decision, you have the right to ask us to look at your application again. The notice you receive from us that says you don’t qualify will explain how to appeal our decision and the time period in which you must make the request.
If we decide you don’t qualify:
Because you are not disabled under our rules, you can appeal our decision online.
The online disability report will ask you for updated information about your medical condition and any treatment, tests, or doctor visits since we made our decision.
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Benefits For Surviving Spouses
Survivor benefits are available to widows or widowers, based on their late spouses earnings record. To receive these benefits, the surviving spouse must be at least 60 years old, or 50 if disabled.
A younger widow or widower can also be eligible for survivor benefits if they are caring for a child of the deceased worker who is under the age of 16 or disabled and receiving dependent benefits based upon their late parents earnings record.
Survivors who have reached their normal retirement age can receive 100% of their deceased spouses benefit. For survivors who are at least 60, the benefit ranges from 71.5% to 99.6% of their deceased spouses benefit.
The survivor has some additional options. For example, a 60-year-old spouse could apply for survivor benefits now and then switch to a retirement benefit based on their own work history at age 62 , if that would result in a higher monthly payment.
Social Security will also provide a one-time lump-sum payment of $255 upon the death of a spouse, provided the spouses were living in the same residence at the time of the spouse’s death.
Social Security Works Aggressively To Prevent Detect And Prosecute Fraud
Social Security, along with the Office of the Inspector General, identifies and aggressively prosecutes those who commit fraud. Our zero tolerance approach has resulted in a fraud incidence rate that is a fraction of one percent.
One of our most effective measures to guard against fraud is the Cooperative Disability Investigations program. Under the program, we investigate suspicious disability claims early, before making a decision to award benefits. In effect, we proactively stop fraud before it happens. In fiscal year 2018, with the help of state and local law enforcement, the program reported nearly $188.5 million in projected savings to the disability programs. This resulted in a return on investment of $17 for each $1 spent.
Eradicating fraud is a team effort. We need people who suspect something to say something. If you suspect fraud, please visit the Office of the Inspector General and select Report Fraud, Waste, or Abuse or call 1-800-269-0271.
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Other Payments May Affect Your Disability Benefits
If you receive certain other government benefits, such as workers’ compensation, public disability benefits, or pensions based on work not covered by Social Security , the Social Security benefits payable to you and your family may be reduced.
For more information about how these benefits can affect your Social Security payments, please refer to the following publications:
Number Of Credits Needed For Disability Benefits
To be eligible for disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test and a duration work test.
The number of credits necessary to meet the recent work test depends on your age. The rules are as follows:
- Before age 24 – You may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.
- Age 24 to 31 In general, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. As a general example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need 3 years of work out of the past 6 years .
- Age 31 or older – In general, you must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before you become disabled.
The following table shows how many years of work credits you need to meet the duration of work test based on your age when your disability began. For the duration of work test, your work does not have to fall within a certain period. The table only provides an estimate of how many work credits you need. It does not cover all situations. If you are statutorily blind, you must only meet the duration of work test. When statutory blindness is involved, there is not a recent work test requirement.
NOTE: This table is an estimate only and does not cover all situations
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How Do Ssdi And Social Security Retirement Work Together
SSDI pays out your full retirement benefits until you qualify to draw them under the traditional Social Security retirement scheme. Once you reach full retirement age based on the year you were born, the SSA will automatically start your retirement benefits and cease your SSDI payments.
The SSA allows you to file for retirement benefits as early as age 62. You can also wait and receive your full benefit amount when you reach full retirement age. Depending on what year you were born, this may vary from 65 to 67 years old.
The Number Of People Qualifying For Social Security Disability Benefits Has Increased
For over 60 years, Social Security disability has helped increasing numbers of workers and their families replace lost income. Several factors have contributed to this increase, which the Social Security Trustees and our actuaries have projected for decades. For example, baby boomers have reached their most disability-prone years and more women have joined the workforce in the past few decades, working consistently enough to qualify for benefits if they become disabled.
Despite the increase, the 9 million or so people getting Social Security disability benefits represent just a small subset of Americans living with disabilities.
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Drawbacks To Applying For Ssdi And Retirement
This can backfire on some people, however. If you apply for early retirement but do not receive approval for your SSDI claim, you may be stuck drawing a smaller amount of retirement for the rest of your life. If this happened to you, we may be able to help you in appealing the SSDI denial. You have only 60 days to file this appeal after receiving a notice about the SSAs decision, however, so contact us as soon as possible after you receive a denial.
How To Apply For Disability Based On Depression
If you’re applying for Social Security disability insurance , you can file your whole claim online on Social Security’s website. Applying online is generally the fastest way to apply for benefits, but you can fill out the application at your own speed. Most individuals filing for SSI only can’t file the entire application online, but they can get started on Social Security’s website. If you’re not comfortable online, you can call Social Security at 800-772-1213 to start your claim. For more information, see our article on applying for Social Security disability benefits.
If you’d like help with your application, or you just can’t get started, think about working with an SSDI expert. According to a survey of our readers, applicants who filed an initial application without expert help were denied 80% of the time. Click for a free case evaluation with a legal professional to determine whether your depression is severe enough to qualify for benefits.
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Please Answer A Few Questions To Help Us Determine Your Eligibility
You have waited many months or years for the news that your claim for Social Security disability has been approved, and you are eager to begin receiving your monthly disability income. The award notice that you will receive in the mail when your benefits are approved will tell you how much your monthly benefit will be and when you will be eligible to begin receiving the monthly payments.
After You Apply For Benefits
After you submit your application, your state’s disability determination services agency will assign your claim to a claims examiner for review. If your examiner doesn’t find enough evidence of your medical condition in your medical records, you may be required to attend an interview or undergo a “consultative mental exam” with an SSA-approved psychiatrist or psychologist to verify your condition. The process can take several months, but the more evidence and medical documentation you are able to provide, the better your chances of being able to get your claim approved.
If you receive a denial letter and feel your case is strong enough to win an appeal, consider contacting a disability lawyer. Applicants who go to an appeal hearing represented by a lawyer have a better approval rate than applicants who represent themselves.
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What Happens If The Adult Child Gets Married
If he or she receives benefits as a disabled “adult child,” the benefits generally end if he or she gets married. However, some marriages are considered protected.
The rules vary depending on the situation. Contact a Social Security representative at 1-800-772-1213 to find out if the benefits can continue.
To speed up the application process, complete an Adult Disability Report and have it available at the time of your appointment.
Benefits For A Disabled Child
A child under age 18 may be disabled, but we don’t need to consider the child’s disability when deciding if he or she qualifies for benefits as a dependent. The child’s benefits normally stop at age 18 unless he or she is a full-time student in an elementary or high school or is disabled.
Children who were receiving benefits as a minor child on a parents Social Security record may be eligible to continue receiving benefits on that parents record upon reaching age 18 if they are disabled.
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What We Mean By Disability
The definition of disability under Social Security is different than other programs. Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial disability or for short-term disability.
We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if all of the following are true:
- You cannot do work that you did before because of your medical condition.
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
This is a strict definition of disability. Social Security program rules assume that working families have access to other resources to provide support during periods of short-term disabilities, including workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, and investments.
Benefits For Divorced Spouses
If you are divorced from a retired worker, you’re eligible to receive an amount equal to one-half of your former spouse’s PIA, provided you were married for at least 10 years.
The rules are similar to those for spousal benefits described above, with a notable exception: You can begin receiving benefits even before your former spouse has begun to do so. However, you have to be at least 62 years old, and the divorce must have been finalized for at least two years if you have not yet reached your normal retirement age.
Divorced spouses who had more than one marriage that lasted at least 10 years do not receive multiple benefit checks or one for each marriage. But the Social Security Administration does automatically choose the former marriage that will yield the largest benefit to the ex-spouse.
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Who Qualifies For Ssdi
- People who have worked for a number of years and had enough money taken out of their paychecks for Social Security
- Self-employed people who paid self-employment taxes
- You must meet Social Securitys very strict definition of disability to qualify for SSDI.
- Having a low income or financial needs do not affect whether you can get SSDI.
If you get turned down for SSDI, reapply, and appeal if necessary. Many cases end up being approved after an appeal. The amount you get from SSDI will be based on how long you worked, and how much Social Security tax was taken from your pay. Once you apply for SSDI, the disability clock starts running.
If your disability application is approved, you will usually receive your first benefit payment six months after the date the Social Security Administration finds that your disability began. You will also become eligible for Medicare after you’ve received SSDI benefits for 2 years.
If you qualify and start getting SSDI, your spouse and any eligible children can also apply for SSDI. If you find you dont qualify for SSDI, but you are disabled and have limited income and resources, look into Supplemental Security Income . This program also can pay benefits to the disabled, but is based on your income and need.
Social Security’s Alternative Listing For Depression
Social Security provides another way to meet the listing for depression for those who can’t show they currently have the functional limitations above because they’ve been living in a highly structured or protected situation or undergoing intense therapy.
If you are in this situation, you may be able to meet a second set of functional criteria. You can do this if your disorder has been medically documented as serious and persistent over a period of at least two years and you have either been living in a highly structured setting or you’ve been receiving ongoing medical treatment, mental health therapy, or psychosocial support that diminishes the symptoms of your mental disorder. You must also show that you have little ability to adapt to demands that are not already part of your daily life or to changes in your environment.
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