Some FAQs About Disability Benefits

Although nobody wants to think of disability, the fact is that the chances of a 20-year-old worker becoming disabled before reaching retirement age are 3 in 10. Social Security in the US provides for disabled people through Disability Benefits.

Who is eligible for disability benefits?

Those, who cannot work due to a medical condition expected to last for a minimum of 1 year, are eligible. You need to meet two earning tests:

1.    ‘Recent work’ test based on age at the time of disability, and
2.    ‘Duration of work’ test to prove that you have worked for a long enough duration.

Some blind workers need not meet the first test.

How much can you get in disability benefits?

How much you get in monthly benefits depends on your work history and the contributions you have made to Social Security. If you are awarded title II, or social security benefits, you will be issued an award stating the exact benefits. If you want to know in advance, you need to call up Social Security administration to find out.

The amount of back-pay you get depends on your medical records to ascertain when your disability set in.

Is there a waiting period?

Yes, five months.

How to apply for disability benefits?

Call 1-800-772-1213 and fix up an appointment to submit your claim. You need to file your claim at your local Social Security office. There will be an interview to look into your claim, and lasts for an hour.

If you are hard of hearing, call 1-800-325-0778 between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on business days. A disability starter kit will be made available to you.

Be sure to apply for benefits as soon as you are disabled. The process is long and time-consuming. To help process your claim faster, be ready with the following:

•    Social Security number
•    Birth certificate
•    Doctor visitation reports and contact information
•    List of prescription medications
•    Test reports
•    Work history
•    Recent wage and Tax statement or federal tax return

Who looks into your disability claim?

Social Security ascertains whether you meet some basic requirements, and then it forwards your claim to Disability Determination Services in your state. They have doctors and specialists that look into your claim and talk to your doctors. They look into all the medical evidence and take tests to check your abilities to do work-related activities.

What if you want to get back to work?

You may try to get back to work even if you are on disability benefits. Certain rules allow you to test yourself in your ability to work. These are called ‘work incentives’ or ‘employment support’ programs.