Applying for Disability - Rules and Requirements when you Apply

What are the requirements to apply for disability? There are two ways of addressing this question. One is to examine the process that the social security administration uses to determine eligibility when you apply for SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) or SSI (supplemental security income) benefits.

By that we mean A) the processing of applying, B) appealing in the event of a denial, C) the criteria that is used, and D) the aspects of a person's medical treatment history and work history that are examined most closely.

The following pages discuss the processing of qualifying for disability benefits and include information on how to prepare for filing a claim, in terms of gathering the needed information:
The second way of addressing this question is, of course, to discuss the issue of insured status and whether or not a person will be eligible to apply for disability benefits under the rules of the SSDI or SSI programs, or under the guidelines of both programs if their claim is concurrent (meaning that they meet the basic eligibility requirements for both programs).

The rules for applying for disability benefits under the Social Security Disability or SSI program are not as complicated or detailed as some might think.

Generally, you may file for Social Security Disability if---

1. You are insured for Social Security benefits (through your work activity over the years).

2. And if you have been unable to engage in work activity that is substantially gainful for the past twelve months (or you expect that your medical condition or conditions will prevent you from working for at least twelve months).

Regarding Insured Status for Social Security Disability

How do you become insured? This is done by earning work credits as a result of your work activity. How will you know if you are insured? When you contact the social security administration to file your disability claim, you may learn whether you are eligible to have a claim filed in the title II Social Security Disability program, or the title 16 SSI program, which is not based on insured status.

If your claim is for title II benefits, you will have a DLI, or date last insured which is, essentially, a date until which you are covered by the Social Security Disability, or SSD, program.

If your DLI is for a date in the past (for example, 1-6-2011), this will mean that, in order to receive disability benefits under SSD, your medical records will need to establish that you became disabled before this date.

If your DLI, or date last insured, is for a future date (for example, 5-8-2030), then your medical records will only need to establish that you are disabled, according to social security administration standards, as of now.

What if you do not have insured status for SSD?

If you are not insured for SSD, then you may have your claim filed in the title 16 program, as long as you do not have assets that disqualify you (note: for SSD, there is no limit on assets). The SSI disability program is different from Social Security Disability in that it is based on need rather than insured status. Consequently, the rules that concern SSI do not involve how much an individual has paid into the system.

There are non-medical rules and requirements concerning resources and income. For example, you cannot have more than two thousand dollars in countable assets if you are applying for disability under the SSI program.

Additionally, to receive benefits you cannot have earned income in excess of the limit for the given (this is known as SGA) and this rule applies to both Social Security Disability and SSI).

However, the actual process for determining whether or not a person is disabled, and, therefore, the disability approval criteria, is the same in both programs.

Additional Information at:

How Does Social Security Decide If You Are Disabled Or Not?

About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.

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