Whether it was from a car accident, a crime committed against you, or serving in our military, many people have injuries that keep them from being unable to work. Some are obvious like brain trauma and spinal cord damage; some are "Invisible disabilities" such as PTSD, depression, and schizophrenia. What they all have in common is that they limit portions of your daily life activities, and specifically affect your ability to support yourself.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program that allows folks to collect benefits during the time they are unable to be employed-whether that is a year or two, or the rest of their lives. People often wonder what they need in order to qualify. Below are some common questions regarding SSDI:
Is SSDI Available to everyone? No, SSDI is only available to those who have accrued enough "credits" to establish eligibility. While there are some special circumstances for those who have never worked-for example a child who is disabled and collects benefits from a parent's account-generally a person must have 40 credits in order to qualify. In 2016, a credit is awarded for each $1260.00 you earn, with a maximum of 4 credits per year. Thus, even someone working part-time over a ten year period would likely be eligible for SSDI based on their credits.
How long does SSDI last: In order to initially qualify for SSDI, you must have a severely limiting condition that will last at least one year or more. Some people have injuries that are so severe, they will never be able to work again. As long as their doctor certifies their continuing disability, they will continue to get SSDI. Others, with less severe conditions, seek rehab for injuries and are able to work again. If they chose this route, they have a nine month period -referred to as a trial work period of TWP-to test their work skills before SSDI benefits stop.
What if I go back to work and find I can't do it? If after working nine months you find that you cannot continue to work, you may collect disability as long as your doctor certifies that you are still medically unable to work. And while you may not earn full-time wages, if you find you can handle small jobs, you may work and earn up to $1130.00 (in 2016) and still collect your benefits. If you exceed that amount of money and have already exhausted your TWP, your benefits will cease.
Many people are not aware that Social Security Disability Insurance rules are actually based in federal statute. As such, dealing with an attorney who is familiar with the legality of the application process is your best bet for getting all questions answered, as well as having a staunch advocate who can serve as your voice.