Social Security Disability Insurance pays a benefit to those who qualify. If you’re unable to work due to a physical or mental condition, the need for income can be urgent. With some preparation, you can help speed up the claims process. You may also be able to access other disability benefits while you’re waiting for the Social Security Disability claim.
Social Security’s definition of disability, which determines SSDI eligibility, is having a condition that renders you unable to perform your usual work and unable to train for new work. Your condition also has to be expected to last at least one year or be terminal. You also need to have worked the minimum credits required by Social Security to qualify for disability. As of publication, you can earn up to four credits each year you’re working and paying into Social Security; a credit is equal to $1,120 in earnings.
The number of credits needed to qualify for SSDI is based on your age; if your disability started before age 24, for example, you need to have earned six credits of work in the three years preceding your disability. To access benefits at age 50, you need 28 credits of work earned in the 10 years preceding your disability.
You can speed up the amount of time needed to review your claim by having all the information needed with you when you apply, according to Social Security. You should bring your Social Security card and driver’s license or state identification, the names, dates, addresses and phone numbers of all the medical professionals you’ve seen, the names and dosages of any prescriptions you’re currently taking, any medical records you have, any lab test results you have, a summary of where you’ve worked when you’ve worked and the duties you’ve performed and your most recent W-2. You can complete your application online, but you may want to complete your application at a local Social Security office so your application and supporting documents are submitted together.
Disability Determination offices process disability claims in most states. Claims take three to five months to be processed, according to Social Security. You may be able to speed the process along by ensuring the Disability Determination office handling your claim has received all the medical records needed. Thirty days after you’ve filed your claim, contact your local Social Security office to find out which Disability Determination office is processing your claim.
Contact the office and ask about the status of your claim and if they are waiting for any medical records. If they are, contact the doctor’s office or medical provider and ask them when they will mail the medical records. Follow-up with the Disability Determination Office every week or two until the office makes a decision on your claim.
While your Social Security claim is pending, make certain you’ve applied for any other disability benefits you’re entitled to. Many employers offer short-term and long-term disability plans; your human resources department can provide you with information on how to apply for benefits.
Some states, such as California and New Jersey, have state disability insurance plans that may pay out disability benefits more quickly than SSDI. Both New Jersey and California process most disability claims in two weeks, for example, as opposed to the two to three months it takes for an SSDI claim to be processed.