How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you or someone you love has a disability, you might be eligible for financial assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers monthly resources for people with disabilities who are unable to work. Here are some steps you can take to see if you qualify, and how to apply if so:
Step #1: See if You Technically Qualify
The SSA has two programs for people with disabilities. The first is known as Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI. This is the program that most people with disabilities qualify for. It’s available for those who worked throughout adulthood and are unable to maintain employment after the onset of an illness or an injury. The second program is Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. There are no work requirements with SSI, but there are strict financial requirements. You cannot have saved income or assets valuing more than $2,000 to qualify for SSI. Because SSI has no work history requirement, it’s best suited for those with lifelong disabilities like cerebral palsy or autism.
Step #2: Find a listing for your condition in the Blue Book
The SSA uses its own medical guide known as the Blue Book to evaluate every SSDI and SSI applicant. Medically qualifying will vary wildly depending on what your diagnosis is. For example, someone who has both of her hands amputated clearly has a disabling condition and will automatically quality, as will anyone with Trisomy 21 or Translocation Down syndrome. A woman diagnosed with breast cancer, on the other hand, will need medical evidence proving her cancer is severe enough to prevent her from working. This usually means a diagnosis of Stage III-B or beyond. The entire Blue Book is available online, so be sure to review it with your doctor to determine where you qualify.
Step #3: Ensure you have the necessary application materials
It’s important to note that you do not need to physically mail in any medical evidence to the SSA—It’ll collect that information from your hospitals and doctors on your behalf. What you can do is speak with your doctor ahead of time to make sure you have a rich medical history available to prove your disability. Material the SSA will look for includes, but is not limited to:
If you are applying for SSDI benefits, you can actually complete the entire application online from the comfort of your own home. This is the easiest way to apply because you
can save your progress to be completed at a later time.
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