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Qualifying for Social Security Disability

If you are wondering whether you qualify for social security disability, you may be intimidated by the complexity of the information available regarding requirements and eligibility. The fact is that social security disability is a complex and thorny system, but it does have objective standards of eligibility; knowing these is the first step to filing a successful claim and gaining disability benefits.

Eligibility for Benefits

In order to qualify for social security disability, you must be financially eligible and medically eligible. This means that you must not be working or able to work, and that your medical condition meets the documented requirements for eligibility as laid out in the “blue book.” The blue book is a document used by the social security administration to determine medical eligibility for certain disabilities. In basic terms, if you have a documented illness or condition that matches one contained in the blue book, you are medically eligible for social security disability benefits.

On the other hand, many conditions not outlined in the blue book are still valid and eligible through what is termed “functional equivalence.” Functional equivalence means that if you can show that your medical condition is, for practical purposes, identical or nearly identical to one found in the blue book, your condition should qualify you for disability benefits.

More commonly, petitioners qualify through a medical-vocational allowance, which means undergoing an assessment of your medical eligibility for work of various types. This process subjects you to a certain amount of scrutiny and evaluation in order to determine whether you meet certain levels of fitness for work, which in turn determines your eligibility for social security disability.

Determining eligibility can be tricky, but it is not the randomized roll of the dice that some make it out to be.

Disability Insurance Terms to Consider

With the Social Security Administration revealing that up to 30 percent of Americans could become disabled throughout their working lives, no wonder more and more people are considering disability insurance! However, to get the best disability benefits possible if something should happen, it’s important to consider all the terms in your disability insurance policy. Unlike insurance for life or material belongings, disability insurance provides recurring benefits, which impacts the way you should consider a policy’s terms.

How Disability Insurance Policy Terms Affect Benefits

Since nothing can impact your life more than losing the ability to earn a living, it’s important to know the exact disability benefits that come from the policies of your disability insurance. Whether you already have a policy or are shopping for coverage for the first time, it’s crucial to fully examine the specific terms. These include:

· Duration. When it comes to disability insurance coverage, there are both short-term and long-term considerations. Short-term coverage will cover your income if you can’t work for a relatively short period of time where as long-term coverage is for more serious disabilities that impact your ability to work throughout your life.
· Types. Disability insurance is available in both group and individual plans. Typically, group plans are reserved for the workplace and are only good as long as you stay with that particular employer. If financial matters are making it difficult for you to afford both disability and life insurance, then a group plan might be a good option for you to save money.
· Limits. Remember, disability benefits are almost never going to compensate you as well as your job will. With that being said, the danger comes when you pay high premiums for disability insurance that you are never going to use. Thus, it’s important that you weigh the dangers of your job (is it physical, labor-based work?) and use those parameters to determine the risk of injury and potentially needing disability benefits in the future.
· Social security. If you’re receiving social security disability benefits, then group insurance policy payments will likely be reduced.

Disability Insurance Qualifications

Social Security Disability Insurance is a source of income for many Americans. Although the general thought is that disability benefits are provided to those who cannot work, the eligibility standards go far beyond that. In fact, qualifying for disability insurance can be quite difficult.

The Basics

When looking to apply for disability insurance there are several aspects that must be in line before benefits are approved. First, it must be determined that you are suffering a medical condition or illness that prevents you from working. Your inability to work may be temporary or long-term, but the real determination must be made by a legitimate physician that your condition impedes your ability to work for the next year or more. In other words, if you can make a living by modifying a job, working from home or online, you most likely will not be considered for benefits.

Not only must you  have a legitimate condition, diagnosed by a physician, but you must also have a traceable work history. Your prior work history must demonstrate that you have paid FICA taxes into the system. Not having a work history or not an adequate amount of FICA taxes can disqualify you from receiving benefits. The reason is that SSDI funds come directly from employment taxes. If you haven’t worked or paid taxes, you can’t claim the benefits. The general rule regarding work history is having worked and paid taxes for the last 5 of 10 years before applying for benefits.

The disability insurance process can be confusing and is highly individualized. If you are looking to apply for benefits, consult with a disability attorney to review your case and help you determine your eligibility or apply.

Disability Insurance At A Glance

disability insuranceOftentimes you will find Americans who have spent their entire lives working but become unable to perform the work that they once did.  It is individuals like this that find themselves looking towards Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, to assist them with their predicament.  SSDI is a tax-funded program that is managed and operated by the Social Security Administration.

Who Qualifies for SSDI?

The standards for Social Security Disability Insurance are very strict.  The first bit and most useful piece of knowledge when determining if you may be eligible for it is determining if you are physically restricted in your ability to become employed.  Those individuals who are and who have been for at least five consecutive months may be eligible.

SSDI is not for a short-term disability basis.  It is either received on a permanent basis or on a long term temporary basis: cases of at least one year in length.  It is very important to understand this simple standard as it may save you time and the headache of barking up a tree that won’t come to answer.

Unlike SSI, Social Security Disability Insurance is not based on your income.  With SSI, however, you must stay below the mandated income line in order to continue receiving this supplemental income.  Eligibility for the disability insurance is set aside for those of any income level.

Be sure to understand that it takes time when applying for such benefits.  The Social Security Administration estimates that the application process can take from 90-120 days.  When applying for benefits you should keep this under consideration and remember that it does not make an immediate impact.

Private Disability Insurance

disability insuranceIt is no secret that Social Security programs are already overburdened and the fate of existence for programs like Medicare are up in the air. With more Americans out of work and without insurance coverage, more people are turning to Social Security Disability for help.  Although less popular, private disability insurance programs may have something to offer.


One of the biggest benefits to private disability insurance is the control over the policy and coverage terms. Many of these policies are customizable and can contain as much or as little coverage as the applicant desires. This makes private disability insurance affordable for many who may not have previously thought they could obtain coverage.

Another perk of private disability insurance is that it is much easier to apply for and secure.  SSDI can be quite difficult to obtain and, often, private insurance is obtainable for just about anyone and covers a wider array of illnesses. Because private disability insurance is purchased prior to the onset of an illness or condition, it is rare for anyone to be denied benefits once an illness begins.


Although private insurance is affordable, it certainly isn’t within everyone’s reach. Families who are already experiencing a financial hardship will find that paying for insurance they have yet to receive benefits for is an unnecessary expense. Private disability insurance is a “just in case” situation, which means that a person may pay for the insurance for years before ever needing it.



Missouri Represents Large Chunk Of Disability Beneficiaries

disability insuranceThere is no doubt that times are tough for many Americans, but some have been plagued by financial trouble for quite some time. The Social Security Administration has seen an increase in disability insurance applications over the last few years. The disabled are finding that they are not alone and beginning to represent a larger portion of Americans than ever before.

Benefits By The Dozens

Part of the increase in Social Security Disability applications is due to the increase in qualifying medical conditions. The intellectually or developmentally disabled now represent a large portion of beneficiaries. The expansion of benefits for those with Alzheimer’s has also brought new recipients into the demographic. However, new studies are finding that there are some regional aspects to the numbers of beneficiaries.

There are numerous Northeast Missouri communities that receive SSDI benefits at a rate higher than the state’s average. Overall, many of these counties have one of the highest rates of disabled workers in the country. Further, the highest rate for SSI payments is in Marion County, where the aging baby boomer generation represents the bulk of the population.


Disability Benefit Cuts Cause Harm

disability programWhile cuts to important Social Security funds such as disability insurance are sure to put a strain on the financial wellbeing of recipients, farther reaching effects are being recognized. There have been numerous reports that disability groups are being scorned and stigmatized as a result of big cuts to funding.Now labeled as “abusers of the system” and “scroungers” many of the nations legitimately disabled are reporting serious allegations of abuse and scrutiny.

Protecting Those In Need

The Social Security Disability program was designed to help those who are unable to make a living due to a physical or mental impairment. These benefits help support millions of citizens who cannot work and are medically impaired. While the majority of beneficiaries are truly disabled individuals, the recent economic pressures have encouraged illegitimate applicants into trying to secure benefits. When reports of system abuse spread the government tightens their reins, leaving unfair consequences for many.

The focus these days is on fairness for the taxpayers and finding a way to support the disabled without reaching deeper into the pockets of American’s. However, as efforts are aimed at protecting the system it is reported that 41 percent of disabled individuals report some form of increased scrutiny and even abuse as a result of the system’s problems.  Blaming pressure on the system and lack of observational evidence to support the diagnosis of some individuals many have turned a blind eye to the problems experienced by the disabled, claiming limited capacity for change and the need to focus on one problem at a time.





Unemployment Puts Pressure On Disability Funds

disabilityThe economy has challenged us quite a bit over the last few years and it isn’t just the unemployment rate and raising national debt that has many of us concerned. The lack of affordable healthcare options, the cracks in major industries like the housing market and the fate of Social Security benefits are all topping the list of national concerns. Now that the unemployment rate has hovered around highs for a while now, many Americans are forced to turn towards other sources of assistance, such as disability insurance for help.

Slippery Slope

Two new studies have recently reported that there is a positive correlation between people applying for Social Security Disability after their unemployment benefits have run out. One of the White House’s top economists authored one of these studies and comments that this correlation highlights a more concerning issue. More specifically, people now view SSDI as an extension of the unemployment program rather than a program designed to help a separate demographic of U.S. citizens in need.

The biggest problem: people with moderate and potentially manageable health conditions are backing up the disability application process, causing major delays for those who really need it. With the influx of applicants coming over after their unemployment runs out, an already pressured system is becoming further stressed financially. No longer is disability being treated as a system for the disabled and ineligible to work, but has become viewed as another branch of a big welfare program.



I applied, Now What?

benefitsObtaining Social Security disability benefits can be a tedious process. Besides seemingly endless paperwork requirements and the high possibility of rejection one or more times, many people give up on the process. One of the biggest hurdles is the application process. If you are one of the lucky ones who has successfully navigated applying for Social Security you may be wondering what to do next.

After The Application

Although many people don’t want to hear it there are really only two things you can do after you have applied for disability benefits: wait or work. The Social Security Administration must process thousands of disability applications each week, which is why the process is so back logged. It is important to remain patient and not stress over the status of your application. It is not uncommon for it to take six months before receiving notification of your benefits claim.  In all reality, there is nothing you can do to speed up the process once you have turned in your paperwork.

If you aren’t the best at being still and waiting, then get to work. Yes! You can work while you are waiting to be approved for disability benefits. It is a misconception that working will interfere with your chances of securing benefits. Social Security rules dictate that work that is considered not “substantial” does not affect your benefits decision. However, you are limited to a monthly income of $900 or less, $1500 if you are blind. Non-substantial work is considered that which is low physical impact or stress.  Why is this allowed? The Social Security Administration wants everyone to be as self-sufficient as possible, which is why they have made some exceptions for people to work while they wait and even after they receive benefits.



Supplemental Security Income And Food Stamps

foodstampsMany people who are on Supplement Security Income often have trouble making ends meet. Supplement Security Income is the cousin program to Social Security Disability Insurance. Whereas Social Security Disability Insurance is designed for those who have spent at least a decade in the workforce, Supplement Security Income is geared more towards those who have never been able to earn a wage due to disabilities. The most common individuals who are on Supplement Security Income include the deaf and blind.

How Do Food Stamps Relate?

Recent studies done on the food stamps program have shown that nearly 21% of individuals who are currently receiving food stamps are also on Supplemental Security Income. An even more disturbing survey shows that many recipients of food stamps actually have no additional income outside of government programs. This shows that there is a direct need to provide more opportunities for low-income Americans, including the disabled, to take a more direct form of involvement in the workforce.

Many analysts are worried that the long-term cessation of productivity, when it comes to Americans who have been out of work for a long period of time, will have a dramatic and long-lasting effect on the economy. It is important that all forms of governmental assistance to those in need, including Supplement Security Income and the food stamp program, work together to ensure that more opportunities are made for those who had few to begin with. It is worth noting that, on average, individuals who were receiving food stamps had an income of roughly $700 a month. This situation must be rectified.


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