Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a U.S. federal insurance program that provides benefits to people who are unable to work due to a medical or mental condition. Generally, the condition must be expected to last at least one year or result in death. SSDI is funded through payroll taxes and is part of a broader Social Security program.
For Oregon residents with a disability that prevents them from working, this program is a lifeline. It allows those who have been working for years to continue to make ends meet after an injury or while living with a disability. In this article, we’ll discuss how this program differs from other Social Security benefits, how it assists Oregonians, and how exactly you receive the benefits you need.
If you have questions about Social Security Disability Insurance or your claim has been denied, call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys at Law, at (541) 434-6466 today.
SSDI: How it Works and How It’s Unique
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is designed to assist individuals who are unable to work due to a long-term disability. To qualify, a person must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability (more on this later).
Additionally, the individual must have accumulated enough “work credits” to qualify for the program. These credits are based on work history and the amount of Social Security Administration taxes they have paid into the program.
Other social programs, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), have different eligibility requirements. SSI is aimed at helping people who are elderly, blind, or disabled AND who have limited income and resources. The limited income section is what makes this different from SSDI. A person receiving SSDI usually had an employment income before their disability set in.
While SSI also considers disability as a factor for eligibility, it primarily focuses on the individual’s financial need instead of their work history or work credits. This fundamental difference in eligibility criteria is what sets SSDI apart from other forms of assistance.
Social Security Funding
Social Security is primarily funded through payroll taxes collected under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Employees and employers each pay a percentage into the system. Some funding also comes from taxes on Social Security benefits for higher-income beneficiaries and from interest earned on the Social Security Trust Fund’s accumulated interest. This system works on a pay-as-you-go basis, where current worker taxes fund current beneficiary payments.
Qualifying for SSDI
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, you must have a medical or mental impairment that is severe enough that it significantly limits your ability to work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines this limit by providing a minimum amount, currently $1,470 per month, for non-blind individuals. If your impairment limits your earning potential to below this number, you will likely be eligible for benefits. The SSA refers to this number as substantial gainful activity (SGA), and a new threshold is updated every year.
Which Disabilities Qualify for SSDI?
SSA maintains a list of conditions, “Impairment Listings,” which it uses to help determine if your disability will qualify. New impairments are occasionally added to the Impairment Listings once the SSA agrees on their legitimacy, but the process is slow. Some of the common categories of qualifying conditions include:
- Musculoskeletal Problems: These are long-term disabilities that affect the bones and joints. Chronic back pain is an example because it can make a worker unable to fulfill their duties.
- Cardiovascular Conditions: These impairments include heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other complications related to the heart and circulatory system. These prevent you from working because strenuous activity is no longer possible.
- Sensory and Speech Disorders: This includes blindness, deafness, and conditions that impact a person’s ability to speak clearly. There are many jobs that these people are qualified for, but if they can’t make more than the SGA minimum, they will be eligible for benefits as well.
- Respiratory Illnesses: These examples include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, and cystic fibrosis.
- Neurological Disorders: These are disorders like multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy.
- Mental and Emotional Disorders: This includes depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disabilities.
- Immune System Disorders: These are conditions such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and kidney disease.
- Digestive Tract Problems: Like liver disease and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
- Hematological Disorders: “Hematological” refers to the blood, but it can also include diseases involving bone marrow. Hemophilia and sickle cell anemia are examples in this category.
- Certain Syndromes: “Syndrome” is a medical word that refers to a range of complex medical conditions that all have a set of symptoms that occur together. Examples include Marfan syndrome, Sjögren’s syndrome, and polycystic kidney disease.
- Cancer: Many types of cancer can qualify you for SSDI, especially if they are advanced, recurrent, or unresponsive to treatment.
Remember, the SSA evaluates not just the disability but also its severity and impact on your ability to earn. Each case is evaluated individually, taking into account the person’s medical condition, work history, age, and education.
The SSA will also look at any transferable skills that could allow you to perform a job that you could do in spite of your disability. If any medical or mental condition prevents you from doing full-time work, you will normally qualify for benefits.
How a Social Security Lawyer Can Help
A Social Security lawyer can be a valuable asset when applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or when appealing after your claim was denied. At Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys at Law, we have years of experience helping our clients receive the benefits they need.
We can review your application to spot trouble areas before they cause you to be denied. If your application was recently denied, we can walk you through the appeals process and defend you in court if it comes to that. Call our friendly and compassionate staff today at (541) 434-6466.