If you cannot work due to a disability, you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI). These federal government payments could offer you a degree of financial relief.1
Most SSDI recipients get paid between $700-1,400 per month. This year, the average monthly SSDI benefit for an individual is $1,358. Your monthly benefit could range from $100 to $3,345 based primarily on your earnings history. Roughly speaking, the greater your average annual earnings (in terms of taxable income), the greater your SSDI benefit.1,2
Suppose you have previously spent some time out of the workforce, had jobs in which you did not pay Social Security taxes, or lived in a household receiving other government benefits. In that case, this can also affect SSDI payment amounts.1,2
How do you apply for SSDI? You can apply at the Social Security Administration’s website, ssa.gov, or call the SSA at 1-800-772-1213. The SSA has a Disability Starter Kit, downloadable at ssa.gov, to help you get ready for a phone interview or fill out the application so that you have the right documentation in hand when you apply.3
Once you complete and submit your application, it goes to the Disability Determination Office in your state for review. After that, the DDO sends you a letter notifying you whether or not you have qualified for SSDI. (If you fail to qualify, you can appeal the decision in writing within 60 days of getting the letter.)1
What are your chances of qualifying for SSDI? Typically, it would be best if you met the following criteria. One, you must be currently out of work and unable to participate in what the SSA terms Substantial Gainful Activity – meaning you can’t earn something approximating a minimum wage by any means. Two, your disability renders you unable to perform your job or any other type. Three, your disability is expected to last 12 months or longer or eventually result in death. (The criteria for veterans, children, the widowed, and the blind differ slightly.)1,4
If you qualify for SSDI, the money will take time to arrive. The SSA starts your benefit payments once you are determined to have been disabled for six full months. So there is a five-month waiting period that begins the first full month after your qualification date.3
The takeaway from this is obvious: there is no point in hesitating to apply for SSDI. You want to apply as soon as you can.
There are two other important things to note about SSDI. If you qualify for it, you become eligible for Medicare just two years after you are entitled to benefits. Also, SSDI benefits adjust for inflation, so your monthly use is designed to grow larger with time.2
This information intends to provide general information on the subjects covered. Readers should not infer specific legal advice regarding eligibility for disability income or criteria for eligibility.
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1. Investopedia, March 31, 2022
2. Disability Secrets, November 8, 2021
3. Social Security Administration, July 2, 2022
4. Investopedia, December 18, 2021