A: No. SSDI is not welfare. Those who receive SSDI are disabled individuals have a solid work history and have paid into the system through payroll taxes, which help fund the SSA.
Q: How do I know if I am eligible to receive SSDI?
A: You must have what is called a “medically determinable” physical or mental condition that prevents you from working on a consistent basis.
Q: How does the SSA define the term “disability”?
A: Social Security defines “disability” as the inability to perform substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable condition or conditions that has lasted or will last 12 consecutive months or result in death.
Q: Where do I go to apply for SSDI benefits? A: You can complete some or all of the forms online, by phone or in person. Click here to visit the Social Security website for more information on applying for Social Security Disability.
Q: How long will it take for my initial SSDI application to be processed?
A: Keep in mind, each case is somewhat different. Some individuals will present medical impairments on their disability applications that will immediately stand out as obvious approvals (though this happens in only a small percentage of cases). Examples of clear cut cases include ALS, advanced cancer, severe kidney disease, blindness, AIDs, and double amputations.
Q: What happens if I am denied after my initial application?
A: The average processing time for an initial application is 4-6 months, while the average processing time at the hearing level (the first appeal) is 12-24 months, from the date the hearing is requested. In this region, the average wait time for an SSDI hearing is about 17 months.
Q: Am I able to work while I am waiting for my case to proceed?
A: Generally, you can't start doing "substantial gainful activity" and continue to receive disability benefits. In a nutshell, substantial gainful activity means you are working and making more than $1,070 per month (or $1,800 if you're blind).
Q: If I ultimately win my SSDI case, will I receive any past payments?
A: Yes, if you win your SSDI case, you can get retroactive pay as far back as 12 months from the date you applied for benefits -- if you were disabled before that point. To get a full 12 months in back pay, you'd have to have become disabled at least 17 months before the date you applied, because there is a five-month waiting period after becoming disabled during which benefits are not paid or owed.
Q: How does the SSA determine who is eligible to receive SSDI payments?
A: SSA generally takes into account the medical evidence located within the claimant’s file. The best thing you can do is to keep receiving treatment from a doctor for your condition.