How to Apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program is designed to provide financial benefits to people who cannot work due to a disability. These payments can be vitally important to individuals who are unable to continue in their careers or find new work due to a disability. 

The Social Security Administration (SSA) clearly defines the eligibility requirements for SSDI, but it’s not always easy for qualified applicants to get the benefits they deserve. Many eligible individuals have their initial claim denied because the process is complicated and overwhelming. 

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we know that disabled Tennessee residents rely on SSDI benefits. If you can’t work due to a disability, you may be eligible for SSDI payments. We are here to simplify the application process, and we can help you appeal the decision if your claim gets denied. 

To schedule a consultation with our team of experienced disability claims attorneys, call our Jackson, Tennessee, office at (731) 513-5275. You can also use our online contact form.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Applying for SSDI

There are only a few steps to apply for SSDI benefits. However, it’s easy to make a mistake in the application, which is one reason that initial claims are often denied. Understanding each step in the process can help you avoid making errors and missing deadlines.

Step 1: Gather documents

Along with your application, you will need to submit other paperwork proving that you have a qualifying disability, that it’s a long-term condition, and that it prevents you from working. You’ll also need to supply documents covering your career, education, and medical history. The type of paperwork needed depends on your condition and its severity, so make sure to review the SSA’s requirements.

Step 2: Fill out and submit the application

Once you have all your documentation, you can fill out and submit the SSDI application. You can file your claim online if you’re over 18 and are not currently receiving Social Security benefits. Your attorney can also submit your application. Another option is to bring the paperwork to your local SSA office.

Step 3: Wait for a response

After you’ve submitted your application, you need to wait for a letter telling you whether you’re approved. The SSA states that it takes between three and five months to get a decision. You can check on your application’s status by calling the SSA or logging into your my Social Security account.

Step 4: File an appeal

If your claim is denied, you may file an appeal. In most cases, you must initiate your appeal within 60 days of receiving your denial notice.

Common Reasons SSDI Claims Get Denied

Unfortunately, the majority of initial SSDI claims get denied. According to data from the SSA, the allowance rate on initial disability benefits in 2018 was only 45.5 percent. There are several different things that can cause the SSA to deny initial disability claims. 

Insufficient medical information

You need to be able to provide the SSA with compelling evidence that your disability makes it impossible for you to work. That means you need to include a complete history of your symptoms and diagnosis.

The SSA also takes into account your medical treatment history. You need to show that you have been following your doctor’s treatment instructions, such as attending physical therapy or taking prescribed medications. If you can’t prove that you’ve been following a treatment plan for your condition, your claim may be denied.

Temporary condition

The SSDI program is designed to help people who have a permanent disability or terminal condition. If your condition is temporary (expected to last less than 12 months), you can’t qualify for disability payments.

Earning income

SSDI payments are meant to replace income for disabled individuals who can no longer work. This means that there is an income cap that determines eligibility. The SSA’s income threshold for 2021 is $1,310 per month. If you are working and making more than that, your claim will probably be denied.

Inadequate work history

Like other Social Security programs, SSDI benefits are reserved for individuals who have worked and paid into the system. To get disability payments, you need to have built up enough work credits during your career. In most cases, you need at least 40 credits to be eligible for disability benefits. However, younger workers may be able to qualify with fewer credits.

You can earn up to four credits per year. In 2021, you earn one credit with $1,470 in self-employment income or traditional wages. 

Missed deadlines

There are strict deadlines for filing your SSDI application, and missing them will cause your claim to be immediately denied. If you can’t show the SSA that you had “good cause” to miss a deadline, you will have to start over at the beginning of the application process.

Claims often get denied due to mistakes in the initial application. You can avoid these errors by working with a qualified disability attorney on your SSDI claim.

Appealing a Denied SSDI Claim

If your initial disability claim gets denied, you can appeal the decision. There are four levels of appeal:

If your appeal is unsuccessful at one level, you may appeal to the next level. The appeals process can be time-consuming and stressful, but an attorney can guide you through each step and give you a better chance of success.

Talk to an Expert Disability Claims Attorney About Your SSDI Application

If you are disabled and can’t work, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, the application process can be intimidating, and errors in your paperwork can result in an initial denial. Give yourself the best chance of success by hiring a lawyer who has experience working on SSDI claims.

At The Law Offices of Michael Hartup, we are dedicated to helping eligible individuals get SSDI benefits. We serve clients throughout the Jackson, Tennessee, area, and we’re ready to discuss your situation and file your claim or appeal.

To get started, contact us through our online form, or call our office at (731) 513-5275. Like us on Facebook to learn more about Social Security disability claims and appeals.