The application and approval process for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, can look straightforward and fairly simple at a glance, but in reality, getting approval can be quite difficult without proper preparation.
Be Sure You Qualify
The very first step in the Social Security Disability Insurance application process is to make sure you qualify and are eligible to collect the benefits you are seeking. The Social Security Administration looks at and considers several criteria when deciding on an application.
Are You Capable of Substantial Gainful Activity
These criteria simply determine whether you can work and earn an income for yourself. The amount in the SSA guidelines changes yearly along with inflation, but in 2021 if you make or are able to make more than about $1,300 each month, then you are considered to be capable of gainful activity.
Is the Disability Projected to Last 12 Months or Longer
You will only be able to successfully claim Social Security Disability Insurance if you can show that your disability will last longer than 12 months. If it will be less than 12 months, you will not be able to qualify.
Is Your Disability Listed in the Blue Book
The Social Security Administration uses a set of guidelines referred to as “The Blue Book” to help list the specific conditions, impairments, and disabilities that would qualify someone to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. There are exceptions to having specifically named conditions, so if you do not see yours in the list you may still be able to qualify.
The Application Process
Once you are sure you meet the requirements, and that your disability is severe enough, you will need to fill out the application and provide your documentation.
Work History & Medical Documents
You will need to provide your evidence proving your attempts to work, your medical diagnosis and history, and your personal history. You will also need to release your records to the Social Security Administration for a full review. Your disability should show a clear impact on your ability to work. The application will then be signed, and either mailed or dropped off at a local office.
The Initial Review
This is where your application is checked for completeness and to ensure you meet the requirements for benefits. At this stage, you will often be assigned to a claims examiner, who will review your medical evidence.
Medical Exam or Request for Additional Information
If you were not approved initially, but not denied, you may be given an opportunity to submit more evidence and documentation to bolster your claim. You may also be asked to have an examination by a consultative medical professional working with the SSA. Often this stage can take up to 5 months to complete, and it may require multiple interviews and requests for info. If denied, you will be able to appeal a limited number of times, but each one will add a significant amount of time to the claim.