Accidents and illnesses are hard enough on their own, but, if you find yourself unable to work due to your health, you may face serious financial difficulties.  Part of the government’s job is to help its citizens through times of difficulty.  Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program designed to provide for Americans with health conditions that prevent them from working.

If you are in a position of financial need due to your health, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. Applying for SSDI benefits is complicated and, to prevent abuse of the trust fund, the standards are often difficult to meet.  A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you file your application and ensure that you have the best chance of receiving the benefits you need.  Our firm has over thirty years of experience helping Oklahoma citizens apply for disability insurance.  Call today for a free one on one consultation.

What is Social Security?

You may know of Social Security as a benefits plan for retirees, but, Social Security is a federal insurance program designed to help eligible Americans make ends meet.  Social Security is a trust fund that all employed Americans contribute to through their taxes.  The Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) set up a mandatory payroll tax to support Social Security.  The Self-Employed Contributions Act (SECA) is the equivalent law for self-employed payroll taxes.

FICA and SECA mandate that you and your employer each contribute 6.2% of your paycheck to Social Security and 1.45% to Medicare.  This money is put into a trust fund to provide financial support to older Americans and disabled Americans.  Self-employed workers must pay for both themselves and their employer, adding up to a roughly 15.3% payroll tax.

This contribution is then used for monthly payments sent to Americans using their SSDI benefits.  The payment you receive is based on how much you have earned and contributed over your working years. Some citizens don’t have to rely on Social Security until retirement, but, Americans with health conditions that prevent them from working may need to apply earlier.

How Do Benefits Work?

Your benefits are determined by your total contributions through FICA or SECA up to the point that you had to stop working.  The higher your monthly income prior to filing, the higher your monthly payment will be.  As of 2020, the maximum monthly payment for SSDI in Oklahoma is $3,011.

Once your benefits are established, they will last until you are no longer eligible or until you reach full retirement age.  After you reach full retirement age, you will receive your monthly allowance through your retirement benefits.  Periodically SSA will adjust your benefits for changes in inflation. SSA will also periodically reassess your case to make sure you are still eligible.  Should you be able to resume working, you should inform SSA.

Eligibility

Because Social Security benefits are lifetime benefits, a person may end up receiving more money than they contribute.  This means that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is very strict about who they allow to receive benefits. If SSA feels someone could be working and contributing to the trust fund, SSA will deny their claim, in an effort to save Social Security funds for those who need them.

If you have a severe health problem that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for SSDI. However, you must show that you cannot engage in any gainful employment as a result of your health, that your condition will last longer than twelve months, and that you have contributed a certain amount to Social Security via payroll taxes.

Social Security is not designed to help Americans with short-term conditions.  SSA expects you to have adequate savings and resources to make it through a year of recovery. If you can hold any employment, the SSA will not approve your claim.  If you have not worked a combined five years in the past ten years, you may not be eligible for SSDI.  There are other programs available for Americans with disabilities who are not SSDI-eligible. 

Applying for SSDI

Applying for SSDI is a long and sometimes tricky process.  The requirements can be strict and, if you have an unusual disability or your work history is inconsistent, you may have difficulty applying for this program. To apply, you will need to gather information about your past work and evidence of your disability.  You may need to provide doctor’s notes, attend medical examinations, and comply with specific treatments to show that your disability is lasting and severe.

To begin this process, you can fill out an initial application online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security Administration office.

Sometimes, if you are lucky, your application will be approved immediately.  More often, you will need to go through several rounds of appeals before you are approved.  Some applicants are never approved at all.

To have the best chance of being approved, you will want to hire an experienced Social Security Disability attorney to help you.  Our team can help you at any point in the application process, but, we recommend contacting us before you file, so that we can set you up for a smooth process from the start.

SSDI vs Supplemental Security Income

The Social Security Administration offers two programs for Americans with disabilities.  SSDI is for Americans who have contributed to Social Security over their lifetime and have a severe disability.

If you do not meet the SSDI work requirements, you may be able to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program designed for citizens with disabilities who do not meet the minimum work requirement.  SSI is dependent on total household income and assets.  If your assets and income are below the SSI threshold, you may be eligible for SSI benefits.

If your SSDI payments are not sufficient to support you, you may be eligible to receive allowances through both SSDI and SSI.  This is known as receiving concurrent benefits.  Our team can help you decide which program to apply for and what benefits you may be eligible for.

SSDI And Healthcare

If you have a disability, you may also find yourself with recurring medical costs. For Americans in need of health care, Medicaid and Medicare are Oklahoma’s government-funded insurance programs.

Medicare is aligned with Social Security Disability Insurance. If you are eligible for SSDI, you will generally be eligible for Medicare as well. Unfortunately, Medicare requires a set waiting period before you are eligible.

The SSA will look through your records and decide on an Established Onset Date (EOD), that is, the point at which your disability began affecting you. Five months after your EOD is the date of entitlement to benefits, that is, the point at which your payments should be begin.  You become eligible for Medicare two years after the date of entitlement.

Medicaid in Oklahoma is called Soonercare. If you have a low yearly income and are eligible for SSI, you may be eligible for coverage under Soonercare.

How an Attorney Can Help

Applying for SSDI coverage can be a long and difficult process.  Hiring an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help you reduce your waiting period and submit a strong claim.  Our team is ready to help you gather evidence and line up your case before you submit your claim, so you can minimize waiting periods and delays.

You may need to communicate with doctors, human resources, employers, and the Internal Revenue Service.  An attorney can get in touch with them and organize all of your documents before you submit your application.  The more comprehensive your initial application is, the simpler the entire process will be.

Because the standards for SSDI coverage are so high, you may have to go through a long legal process before you are approved.  Our team can make sure your case is up to date and work with you to make the best decision for your situation.

You may have to go to a Social Security Disability hearing and present your case to a judge.  It is crucial that you have legal representation for any hearings.  Your lawyer can present your case, cross-examine expert witnesses and help you demonstrate your financial need.

Unlike many other firms in Oklahoma, we are willing to help you with federal and administrative appeals. We know that an appeal is time-sensitive and calls for an attorney familiar with your case.  If you decide to appeal the SSA’s decision, we’re prepared to help.

Contact the Social Security Law Center Today

You shouldn’t have to worry about bureaucracy and paperwork when you’re suffering from a debilitating health condition.  Our firm can make applying for SSDI benefits as simple as possible so you can focus on your recovery and on spending time with your loved ones during this stressful period.

Our offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Bartlesville are ready to help you at any point in your application process. Call us today or reach out to us online to schedule your free consultation.