Individuals with severe disabilities that prevent them from working and financially supporting themselves may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

There are two programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that people with a long-term or permanent disability can apply for:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Although both of these programs provide vital financial support to disabled individuals, there are several differences between the two as to who qualifies to apply and the requirements needed to obtain benefits.

An experienced Social Security disability benefits attorney in Tulsa can help you can find out which program you may qualify for and how to obtain the benefits you deserve.

The Edwards Law Firm’s qualified legal team understands the SSA’s strict application process and will help you accurately file an application or appeal a denied claim. Do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance?

SSDI benefits are provided to disabled individuals with a long-term disability that prevents them from working. Applicants must meet both nonmedical and medical requirements to obtain SSDI.

Nonmedical Requirements

The first step to receiving SSDI benefits begins long before you are disabled. Throughout your employment history, you accrue work credits based on your annual level of income and the money you contribute to Social Security taxes from your payroll throughout your life.

Each year, you are able to earn a total of four work credits. As of 2017, one work credit is equivalent to $1,300 in wages or income, meaning you must earn a minimum annual salary of $5,200 to receive four work credits throughout the year.

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have earned a certain number of work credits based on your age:

  • Before age 24: You must earn six work credits in the three-year period ending when your disability starts.
  • Ages 24 to 31: You must have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. For instance, if you are injured at the age of 27, you must have earned 12 work credits, or three years of work, between the age of 21 and 26.
  • Ages 31 to 42: You must have earned a minimum of 20 work credits within the last 10 years before becoming disabled.

After you have reached the age of 42, the number of work credits required to obtain SSDI benefits increases by two credits per year, until you reach the age of 62. Once you reach the age of 65, you are no longer eligible to qualify for SSDI benefits and must apply for SSI benefits instead.

Medical Requirements

In addition to your work history, you must meet the medical requirements for obtaining SSDI.

This requires that candidates suffer from a long-term disability found in the SSA’s Blue Book of impairment listings. A candidate may automatically qualify for SSDI benefits if he or she has been diagnosed with one of these conditions.

However, if your disability is not found on this list, you may still qualify for benefits if you meet the SSA’s qualifications for a long-term disability. This requires providing evidence that:

  • The disability you suffer from has prevented you from performing the duties of your previous job.
  • You cannot adjust to other areas of work because of your disability. The SSA will examine your age, education, skills and previous work experience to determine if you are able to perform any other type of work.
  • Your disability is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

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What is Supplemental Security Income?

SSI is a needs-based financial program that provides monthly payments to low-income individuals who have a disability but do not meet the requirements for SSDI benefits.

Eligibility for SSI benefits is instead based on the level of income a candidate earns and the total amount of assets the applicant has to his or her name. The candidate must also be either blind, disabled or over the age of 65.

Individual candidates who qualify for SSI benefits cannot have more than $2,000 in assets, while couples who qualify for SSI benefits must have less than $3,000 in 2017.

When determining if you have limited resources and assets, the SSA will consider your:

  • Bank accounts
  • Cash
  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Real estate

However, the SSA will not consider these items as assets for determining SSI eligibility:

  • The home and property where you live
  • Life insurance policies of $1,500 or less
  • The car you drive, in most cases
  • Burial funds of $1,500 for the applicant and $1,500 for their spouse

To determine if you have limited income, the SSA will consider the money you earn from work and other resources such as workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits and benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs. It will also consider if you are receiving free food or shelter.

However, it will not count:

  • The first $20 of each month’s income
  • The first $65 of monthly earnings and half or earnings above $65
  • Food stamps
  • Shelter provided by a nonprofit organization
  • Income used for medical equipment or items that help the applicant perform his or her job

Contact Our Tulsa Social Security Disability Lawyers Now

If you are having difficulties receiving the Social Security disability benefits you need, do not hesitate to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the Edwards Law Firm for experienced legal assistance from our personal injury lawyers in Tulsa.

We understand the complex application process used by the SSA and will provide our services at no upfront cost to help you recover the benefits you deserve. Contact us today to get started.