Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is an earned benefit. Every paycheck that you have ever received has included withholdings paid to Social Security on your behalf.
Most people will only need to draw against those benefits when they reach retirement age. Older adults can use Social Security benefits to supplement other retirement savings. However, if you aren’t able to keep working until you reach retirement age, you may need to access SSDI benefits to continue providing for yourself and your dependents.
Provided that you have made enough contributions to the Social Security program during your working adult life, you can potentially apply for benefits if your medical condition is serious enough. How do you determine if your condition qualifies you for SSDI benefits?
You must prove your diagnosis and the severity of your condition
Medical documentation is one of the most crucial parts of an SSDI benefit application. You need to submit evidence that a licensed physician has diagnosed you with a disabling conditions. You will also need to show the severity of that condition, including how it impacts your daily life.
Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) does have a list of disabling conditions, they also evaluate each application on an individual basis. A condition that is severe for one person might have nominal consequences for someone else.
In other words, having a specific diagnosis is less important than having medical documentation about how a condition affects your ability to work or your ability to perform daily care functions on your own behalf.
The condition will need to be long-lasting
Pneumonia can be a debilitating condition, but even the most severe cases usually only last a few months. Your condition will have to persist for substantially longer than that in order for you to receive SSDI benefits.
The minimum duration of your disabling condition will need to be at least a year to qualify for benefits. Lifelong or terminal conditions can also qualify someone for benefits. Even if you may recover in several years, you can potentially receive benefits while the condition affects your daily life and income.
Properly supporting claims in your initial application will increase your chances of getting benefits. Those who face a denial at first may also need to explore the options for appealing.