If you’re like many Americans, you may find that working brings you fulfillment. Providing income for yourself and your family can provide a sense of achievement. If you have to stop working due to a disability, you might wonder how you can support your family. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal cash assistance program. It’s provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you are eligible for SSDI, you can receive monthly payments to help cover your living expenses. In order to know whether or not you qualify, you need to know important aspects about the program!
What to Know About Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
One of the most important things to know about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is that it is not a welfare program. Instead, it is an insurance program that you pay into through your payroll taxes. This means that if you have worked and paid taxes for a certain number of years, you may be eligible for SSDI if you become disabled. SSDI can help provide you an income if you have a disability that has become too severe, preventing you from working.
How to Get SSDI
If you’re unable to work, it’s a good idea to look for a way to supplement your income in the meantime. SSDI can help you do that if you meet the following criteria:
- Meeting SSA’s Definition of Disability: You must have a long-term medical disability that forced you to stop working. Find out if your disability might qualify using the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist.
- Earning Sufficient Work Credits for Eligibility: You need to have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and paid payroll taxes.
What Disabilities Qualify for SSDI?
If you have a long-term disability, it may qualify for SSDI. There are many different types of disabilities that can qualify you for support. This list includes the following conditions:
- Various types of cancer
- Back or joint injuries
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
The above conditions may automatically qualify you only if your disability also meets one or more of the following requirements:
- Expected to end in death
- Prevents you from maintaining your job
- Has lasted longer than one year
- Expected to last one year or more
- Prevents you from being able to do any substantial gainful activity (SGA)
What the Application Process Looks Like
Another important thing to know is that the SSDI application process can be lengthy and complex. You need to be able to provide plenty of medical evidence proving your disability meets the SSA’s specific definition of disability. Being prepared for the application process can help you avoid any unnecessary delays or confusion. In order to apply, you can follow these steps:
- Gather all necessary documents, including medical records and work history.
- Complete the online application form on the SSA website. Take your time with this step to ensure that you provide the most accurate information.
- Submit your application and wait to hear back from the SSA.
After you submit your application, there is a waiting period before getting an answer from the SSA. You can expect to wait roughly five months for the SSA to go over your case. If you receive an approval, your first SSDI payment will come after six full months of your official disability date. The SSA determines when your disability date begins!
How Much Assistance Does SSDI Provide?
How much assistance you can get from SSDI is dependent on your specific work history. This is because award amounts are calculated based on an applicant’s average earnings over their working life. However, the average SSDI recipient receives about $1,537 per month in benefits. Whereas, the maximum amount of benefits a recipient can qualify for is up to $3,822 in 2024. These benefits can help cover basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing while you’re unable to work.
Other Types of Available Federal Support
SSDI can be a fantastic opportunity for you if you’re disabled and have to stop working. However, you may still need to rely on alternative forms of assistance to get by. You may also qualify for additional benefits with one of these assistance programs:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Housing Choice Voucher Program
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed for people with limited income and resources who are either blind, disabled, or at least 65 years old. In some cases, SSDI recipients may also qualify for SSI if they have very low incomes. This means you could potentially benefit from both programs at the same time. SSI also delivers monthly cash benefits to help with essential costs. Current individual recipients of SSI are able to get up to $943 per month. Meanwhile, qualifying couples can get up $1,415 in monthly assistance!
One of the biggest expenses that households deal with are their housing costs. Some families can find themselves in a position where they’re spending the majority of their income on rent. Fortunately, there are programs, like the Housing Choice Voucher Program that exist. This program can offer affordable housing opportunities to people going through financial hardships. If you’re eligible, you can receive a voucher to cover part of your rent expense. Vouchers are awarded based on income level, family status, and other factors. The remainder of rent that the voucher does not cover is up to you to pay.
The unique aspect of this program, also referred to as Section 8, is that you are able to find your own rental to live in on the private market. This means that you have the freedom to select from various types of homes. This includes apartments, townhouses, or even single-family homes! However, the property needs to meet the standards of the local public housing authority (PHA). Furthermore, the owner of the property needs to agree to accept your voucher from your PHA.
Keeping plenty of food stocked for your family can become challenging if you’re out of work. If you can benefit from expanding your grocery budget, you can consider applying the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This program can provide monthly funds that can be used to buy nutritious foods. If you’re able to benefit from SNAP, you can use your Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card at certain retailers. There is a long list of food items that can be bought using SNAP. This includes items such as vegetables, fruit, bread, rice, non alcoholic beverages, meat, and much more.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can help qualifying individuals continue to support themselves financially while not working. In order to qualify for these monthly cash benefits, there are specific criteria that need to be met. First, you need to have a qualifying long-term disability. In addition to that, you need to have paid payroll taxes while you were working. If you’re unable to work, you may be having a hard time with your finances! In addition to SSDI, you may also be able to get additional government assistance. Programs such as SNAP, Section 8, and SSI can provide you needed relief. The best part is that you may be eligible for multiple programs at once! It’s undeniable that there are some challenges with government assistance. However, if you’re able to get the help you need, it could be worth the effort!