If you are disabled, you may have looked into both the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs. These federal benefit programs give U.S. citizens financial assistance when they are unable to work due to disability or illness.
Before applying for SSDI or SSI, it is important to understand the basics of the application process.
For SSDI, the applicant must be insured. This means that the applicant paid enough Social Security taxes within the prior 10 years to qualify for SSDI.
Conversely, SSI does not have such a requirement. It pays benefits to applicants (disabled adults and children) who meet income and resource requirements and have a qualifying disability or illness.
Medical requirements the same
Whether applying for SSDI or SSI, remember, the medical requirements for what qualifies as a disability or illness are the same. Essentially, the medical condition must be expected to result in the applicant’s death or last for at least one year.
You can submit your application in person, by phone or online. The general process is the same regardless of how you apply for benefits. First, you must gather documents that substantiate your disability. The Social Security Administration has an Adult Disability Checklist to help with this process. The checklist outlines what the SSA is looking for and the documents needed for a successful application.
After you gather your application materials, submit your application. You can have an attorney review your application packet before submission, but that is not a requirement. The SSA reviews your packet, and then forwards it to California’s Disability Determination Services office. This office makes the disability determination.
Once the Disability Determination Services office makes its determination, you will receive notification in writing. This initial decision usually takes 3-6 months. You can check the status of your application online through your Social Security account, or by call the SSA directly.