Social Security Disability Insurance
(“SSDI”) is a payroll tax funded disability insurance program, administered by the Social Security Administration
(“SSA”). It is designed to provide monthly cash benefits to persons who are unable to work for a year or more because of a physical or mental disability. The SSDI benefits are not intended to be permanent but to last until the person’s disability improves and they are able to resume work. In many cases, the benefits awarded are permanent and provide a lifetime guarantee of financial income for the disabled. Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis, and the SSA provides continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. That means that if you worked “off the books”, your employer did not pay into the disability insurance program and you will not be eligible for SSDI benefits. In addition to meeting the definition of disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify for disability benefits. The SSA determines if you are eligible by looking at your “work credits.”
Social Security work credits are based on your total yearly wages or income. You can earn up to four credits each year. The amount needed for a credit changes from year to year. The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
If you qualify to apply for benefits by your work history, you must also have a medical condition that meets Social Security's definition of disability.
What most people don’t understand is that the definition of disability under Social Security Disability Insurance is different than that of other programs. SSDI pays only for total disability and does not provide benefits for partial disability or for short-term disability. SSA’s definition of disability is very strict.
If you are denied benefits based upon your initial application for SSDI, you have the right to an appeal of their decision, before an Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ. At that hearing, you will able to testify about your disability, present witnesses to help prove your claims, examine your case file to ensure that the ALJ has all of your medical records and allow the ALJ to “see” your injuries. The SSA case workers do not give away these benefits easily; in fact, they act like it is coming out of their own pockets because it essentially is. I strongly recommend that you retain an experienced Social Security Disability Insurance attorney in Brooklyn and Staten Island to represent you at your hearing and throughout your appeal. An experienced SSDI attorney understands what information that the SSA is looking for and will work with you to obtain that information before the hearing. If the information that you provide to the ALJ is incomplete, you will most likely again be denied benefits. In fact, for those persons that applied for SSDI benefits in New York, almost 62% were denied. For those that appealed their initial denial, a staggering 85% of applicants were denied! Only 15% of those that appealed were awarded benefits.
If you have any questions or have been denied Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, we will review your case and denial letter at no charge and suggest a strategy to help you to obtain your deserved benefits. Contact Frank J. Dito, Jr.
, your Staten Island and Brooklyn, New York Social Security Disability Insurance attorney, for your free initial phone consultation today by calling (718) 979-4300.