Is Claiming Disability the Same As Claiming Social Security?

A lot of Americans today claim social security disability Insurance (SSDI) as a means to help them out financially. What is often confusing is that having a permanent disability does not automatically make you eligible to receive disability payments. Neither is disability the same thing as social security payments that a person receives at retirement. The following are a few facts to help you to understand how these programs are different.

A Brief History of SSDI

The Social Security Act was made law during President Roosevelt’s administration on August 14, 1935. By contrast, SSDI was not instituted until nearly 20-years later on August 1st, 1956. It was signed into law by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and this program precedes the later introduction of the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program that emerged in 1974 under the Nixon administration. The later program is not necessarily intended only for the blind and disabled; and hence, it is not what many understand or consider to be social security disability; yet, it does cover individuals who are born with a disability and cannot meet work quarter requirements under the SSDI program.

What Government Office Is Responsible for Maintaining the Disability Program?

The government office which maintains the SSDI program for disabled individuals is the Social Security Administration (SSA). It is the same government office that is responsible for handling the social security program intended for retired persons. So, it is understandable that since the same government organization is responsible for overseeing and administering both programs that some people might confuse one program for the other. It is important to remember that one program is primarily aimed at serving the needs of disabled people who may or may not have some work experience while the other program is primarily aimed at serving the needs of retired individuals. Further confusion may arise in the case of individuals who are both retirement age and disabled with a sufficient amount of work experience to qualify for both programs.

Who Is Eligible

It is well known that most Americans are eligible for social security retirement benefits when they reach the age of retirement: assuming they have worked and paid some degree of taxes leading up to retirement on which to assess the amount of social security due them. To gain an enlightened perspective on who is eligible for SSDI, it is best to read the SSA’s pamphlet on disability benefits to understand the program in all points. However, the typical way to determine eligibility for SSDI is that you must have a disability that is supported by the proper medical documentation, and you must also have worked the right number of work quarters for your specific age group when filing for SSDI. A work quarter is three-months long, and you can accumulate a maximum of four work quarters each year. As you age, the number of work quarters you must have accumulated in a ten-year period increases.

How to Apply

To apply for SSDI, you can pick up an application at any SSA field office or download the application from the SSA website. It is important that you fill out this application as accurately as possible because failure to do so can lead to legal problems. To ensure that your application is filled out correctly for best results, it is advised to acquire the help of a disability attorney who is experienced with successfully helping their clients navigate the application process without any hitches.

Where to Find More Information

The most straight forward way to find out more about SSDI and how it differs from social security retirement benefits is by researching the matter on the SSA.gov website or by calling the SSA and speaking with a representative. Due to the legal and technical nature of some of the SSDI program’s provisions, you may need the help of an attorney to properly understand and assess if you have a case. As a rule of thumb, you should never assume that the SSA representative is operating in your best interest, and you should write down the name and worker ID of any SSA representative you speak with in case you need to report any issues as a result of dealing with said SSA representative.

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