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What is the process of securing Social Security disability benefits?

On Behalf of | Jul 13, 2023 | Disability, Social Security

For disabled people in Tennessee who are unable to work, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides a financial safety net so that they can pay for their basic expenses. While some people refer to SSDI as an entitlement, it is not. Instead, people pay into the Social Security fund from the income they earn while working. Those who do not have enough work credits won’t qualify for SSDI but might be eligible for a different program.

How do you qualify for SSDI?

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have a serious disability that is expected to continue for at least one year
  • Be prevented from performing substantial gainful activity because of the disabling condition
  • Have worked for the required amount of time based on your age and earned enough work credits (generally 40 credits or 10 years)
  • Have paid into Social Security from your income through paycheck deductions or self-employment taxes

The Social Security Administration will consider whether you can perform the tasks of your job or if your disability prevents you from performing work for which you are qualified, which is less strenuous to decide whether your disability qualifies.

The application process for SSDI

To apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you can submit an application online, in person at your local Social Security office, or by phone. You’ll need to include evidence supporting your disability claim, including medical records showing the treatment you’ve received, documentation showing you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, current employment information and employment information from the previous two years, information about your work history and jobs, and more.

Once you submit your application, the SSA will review everything to make sure you meet the basic qualifications. After confirming you have earned enough credits, the SSA will send your application to the state’s Disability Determination Services office for evaluation. The DDS denies most applications. However, you have the right to appeal and should consider doing so as soon as possible if you receive a denial letter. Many applications are eventually approved on appeal. If you don’t appeal the initial determination, you’ll have to start the process over.