Most people don’t think about becoming disabled, especially when they are young. However, an illness or accident can leave you with an impairment that prevents you from earning a living. The Social Security Administration says that one in four people who are now age 20 will acquire a disability before reaching retirement age. The chances are high that you or someone you know will face this challenge at some point.

Social Security Disability Definition

According to the Social Security Administration, a person is disabled if he or she is diagnosed with a medical condition that prevents him or her from working and earning enough money to live on. This impairment must be expected to last for at least 12 months or lead to death. Individuals who are elderly or disabled can qualify to receive Social Security benefits even if they have not reached retirement age. This could include conditions like Alzheimer’s, cancer, arthritis, and serious back problems.  This list is not complete by any means, but it is certainly a good place to start.

Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you think you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you can start the application process by using the Benefits Eligibility Screening Tool on the SSA website. You will need to provide recent employment and income information. Be prepared to furnish medical documentation of your disability on request. It is not uncommon for the initial claim to be denied. If this happens, consider talking with a social security disability lawyer. An attorney with experience handling disability claims can make sure you have all the documentation required. She can also draft your appeal in a manner the Social Security Administration will approve.

Social Security Disability Insurance

Social Security has two ways to pay benefits to the elderly and handicapped. The first program is Social Security Disability Income. This option is for people who have worked a substantial amount for 20 quarters in the previous 10 years. Individuals under age 24 may qualify with less work time. As of 2017, you could earn up to $1,170 per month and still get SSDI. The monthly limit for people who are legally blind was $1,920. These amounts can vary depending on who you are and how extreme your individual condition is. Make sure to speak with a social security disability lawyer to sift through all the information available to you.

Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income provides income for people who don’t have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. SSI is administered by the Social Security Administration, but it is a joint state and federal program based on financial need. The federal government paid each beneficiary $735 per month in 2017. States may add to this amount, but they also set income limits. This can be a great benefit to help get you through those tough times you will definitely face in life.

Social Security has other programs to help people with disabilities. For example, SSDI recipients automatically receive Medicare after two years. The SSA also helps people return to work through options like trial work periods and assistance with work-related expenses.