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5 commonly asked questions about SSDI benefits

Jul 8, 2022 | Social Security Disability

The average person doesn’t know very much about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but they likely won’t ever need benefits. Only a small percentage of adults ever have a medical condition that is severe enough and lasts long enough for them to qualify for SSDI.

When people realize that they need financial support because of a medical issue, they may lack the information necessary to decide if applying for SSDI is worthwhile. Reviewing the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions regarding SSDI benefits can help you make a more informed decision about your situation.

How does SSDI work?

Disability benefits are not automatic. You have to make contributions to be eligible for them and have to ask when you need them.

An individual who recently suffered a major medical issue will have to fill out complex government forms and submit them for consideration if they hope to receive benefits. Even small mistakes on those documents could lead to a denial of benefits.

What medical conditions qualify for SSDI?

The Social Security Administration does provide a list of potentially qualifying conditions, all grouped by category. From mental health issues to musculoskeletal disorders, there are many conditions that can lead to SSDI benefits.

Can you get benefits if your diagnosis isn’t on the list?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates each claim based on the severity of someone’s condition. The same issue might present different symptoms in two different adults, with one of them qualifying for benefits and the other remaining able to go back to work if they so choose.

Even if your condition is not on the list of qualifying conditions, if you have documentation of the severity of your symptoms and how long they will last, you may still be able to qualify. The basic criteria for a disabling medical condition are that it will last for at least 12 months and prevent someone from working.

How long must you work to qualify for benefits?

Every employee makes contributions to Social Security when their employer withholds funds for tax. You can accrue up to four credits per year based on the income you earn, and you typically need to have 40 credits overall with at least 20 from within the last 10 years to qualify. However, younger individuals with a shorter work history may still be able to get benefits.

Does everyone get rejected?

The myth that no one gets approved at first deters many people from applying. While it is true that a significant number of people get rejected initially, many people get approved when they apply, and more people receive benefits after an appeal. If you meet the criteria for benefits, applying is often a worthwhile endeavor.

Learning more about how SSDI benefits work can help those who believe they may need benefits.

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