SSDI Benefits in Richmond, VA


How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits in Virginia


There are two main Social Security programs that provide money and benefits to people who are unable to work because of their medical impairments: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Though the programs are similar, there are key differences in how they’re awarded and the amount of benefits paid. Most people who receive Social Security Disability benefits are on SSDI, but some of you may qualify for both programs.


Chances are good that you’re reading this article because you’ve either applied for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits in Virginia, are thinking of filing for disability insurance benefits, or have had your initial application for disability denied and are considering an appeal. You’ve probably seen how much work getting approved for SSDI benefits can be or how common it is for an application for benefits to get denied. And you may be wondering whether it’s worth it to take on the Social Security Administration (SSA).


This article explains what SSDI is, what it can provide for you and your family, and why you want to fight for your SSDI benefits. Take a look at our article, then contact Richmond disability lawyer Corey Pollard for a free consultation. We’ll explain how our disability law firm has helped thousands of adults like you get the benefits they deserve – and how we can assist you throughout the process.


We serve Richmond, Charlottesville, Roanoke, Petersburg, Newport News, Fredericksburg, Hampton, Norfolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach, and surrounding areas. Call now to get an experienced Richmond SSDI attorney on your side.


What are SSDI Benefits?


The Old-Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) program pays benefits to retired workers and their dependent family members and to the survivors of deceased workers. The Disability Insurance (DI) program, also known as SSDI, provides monthly benefits to disabled workers, their spouses, and their dependent children (whether the children are disabled or not).


The Social Security Amendments of 1954 created the Disability Insurance (DI) program. In 1956 President Eisenhower signed disability legislation to provide cash benefits to disabled workers aged 50 and older and to the adult children of retired, disabled, and deceased workers if the child was disabled before the age of 18. Eventually the Disability Insurance program was amended to provide additional benefits to additional individuals.


When Are You Entitled to SSDI Benefits?


If you are a disabled worker, you may receive monthly cash benefits through the SSDI program if you meet the following conditions:


  • You meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability.


  • You have file an application for disabled worker’s benefits (SSDI benefits are also referred to as disabled worker’s benefits, which is different from workers’ compensation).


  • You have disability insured status.


  • You have completed the five-month waiting period for SSDI benefits.


  • You have not reached full retirement age.


Your monthly case benefits under SSDI begin with the first month you satisfy all of the conditions above.


What are SSDI Auxiliary Benefits?


If you are a disabled worker receiving SSDI benefits, additional monthly benefits may be payable to your family members based on your earnings records. These cash benefits, referred to as auxiliary benefits, are payable to your spouse and to your dependent children under the age of 18.


SSDI auxiliary benefits, also called dependents’ benefits, are available to people who rely on family members who qualify for SSDI.


You do not have to be disabled, or have sufficient work credits, to receive auxiliary benefits based on a family member’s entitlement to SSDI. Below are people who may qualify for auxiliary benefits under the SSDI program:


Divorced spouse of an insured disabled worker: You qualify for auxiliary benefits if a) you are at least 62 years of age and b) you were married to the disabled worker for at least ten years.


Divorced spouse of an insured worker who has not filed for SSDI benefits but has coverage: You may qualify if a) your former spouse is 62 or older, b) you are 62 or older, c) you were married for at least ten years, and d) you have been divorced for at least two years.


Older spouse of an insured disabled worker: You will receive auxiliary benefits if a) you are at least 62 years old, 2) have been married for at least one year, and c) you are not entitled to a disability insurance or retirement benefit that is more than half of your spouse’s monthly payment.


Disabled widow or widower: You can claim benefits through your spouse’s earnings if you are a) between 50 and 60 years of age and b) you are the surviving or divorced spouse of a worker who received regular retirement benefits or SSDI.


Dependent, unmarried child: A child may receive insurance benefits based on the earnings of an insured parent or deceased parent who was insured at death if a) the child is under 18 years of age, b) the child is 18 or 19 but is a full-time student, or c) the child is over 18 but was disabled before age 22.


What is the Definition of Disability for SSDI Benefits/Disabled Worker’s Benefits?


The SSA will consider you disabled under the SSDI program if:


1. You are unable to perform any substantial gainful activity due to a physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairment. A job is considered substantial gainful activity if you are earning more than $1,170 per month. You must not be able to do your previous work or any other type of work that may exist in significant numbers in the national economy based on your age, education, and acquired job skills


2. Your alleged medical impairments are established by objective medical evidence such as MRIs, CT scans, and clinical examination notes.


3. It is expected that your medical impairments will either result in death or last for at least one year. The 12-month period must be continuous.


4. You meet the non-medical requirements of the SSDI program.


5. You are younger than the full retirement age.


We recommend contacting experienced Richmond SSDI attorney Corey Pollard for a further explanation of the disability evaluation process.


SSDI Insured Status – Do You Have Enough Work Credits?


Social Security taxes finance the SSDI program. Your work history and past earnings, therefore, play a large role in determining whether you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. To receive SSDI benefits in Virginia you or the person on whose earnings record you are claiming entitled to disability insurance benefits must have paid Social Security taxes long enough to earn sufficient work credits.


Having worked in the past is not enough to qualify for SSDI benefits – even if you worked for many years. When you worked and how long you worked are more important.


Like any other type of insurance – auto, home, and life insurance – you must have had coverage under the policy on the date of the occurrence to make a claim. If the triggering event happened after your coverage expired, you will not recover benefits or compensation.


For Social Security Disability Insurance benefits the triggering event is your alleged onset date – the date you allege you became unable to work because of your medical impairments. The expiration date for your coverage is called the date last insured (DLI). You must prove that you became disabled before your date last insured to receive SSDI benefits.


So how does the Social Security Administration (SSA) determine your date last insured? By looking at your work credits.


To receive SSDI benefits you must have earned a certain number of work credits. That number depends on your age when you allege you became disabled. You can earn up to four credits each year. The number of credits you receive is based on your earnings from work during that year.


Most of you will need to have earned at least 20 work credits over ten years to establish SSDI eligibility. If you are a younger worker you may obtain eligibility with fewer work credits. Below are the general rules:


Age 31 or older. The minimum number of work credits you need to have earned increases as you get older. For example, if you are between 31 and 42 years of age, then you need to have earned at least 20 work credits total. If you are 50 years of age, you need to have earned at least 28 work credits total. And if you are 56 years of age, you need to have earned at least 34 work credits total. At least 20 of the credits must have been earned in the ten years before you allege you became disabled.


Age 24 to 31. You need to have earned credits for half of the time between age 21 and when you allege you became disabled. For example if you become disabled at age 29, you would need credit for four years of work (16 credits) during the eight years between ages 21 and 29.


Before age 24. To qualify for SSDI you need to have earned at least six credits in the three year period ending when you allege your disability began.


How can you find out how many work credits you have? Contact your local SSA field office. Or, if you have internet access, register for an account on the SSA’s website.


What is the SSDI Waiting Period?


One of the most frequent questions I get from current and potential clients is, “When do I start receiving SSDI benefits if I’m approved?”


Like most state workers’ compensation systems the SSA imposes a waiting period on the receipt of benefits – even if you’re found disabled. There is a five month waiting period for SSDI benefits.


If your application for SSDI is approved, your first Social Security benefit will be paid for the sixth full month after the date that the SSA finds you disabled. This date is known as your established onset date of disability.


The waiting period for SSDI benefits is easier to explain with an example:


Let’s say that you go to a hearing and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) finds you disabled as of May 10, 2015. Your first monthly benefit payment would be paid for the month of November 2015, which is your sixth full month of disability.


Why does the SSA have a waiting period? Good question. In my opinion there should be no waiting period for SSDI benefits.


How is the Amount of Your SSDI/Disabled Worker’s Benefit Calculated?


The Social Security Administration (SSA) will send you a monthly payment when you qualify for SSDI benefits. The amount of this payment is based on how much money you made while working and paying into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. These benefits may be tax free.


You can use your monthly SSDI payment to pay for food, shelter, clothing, entertainment, and any other living expenses. It is your money.


This monthly disability payment can provide you and your family with financial security and serve as the backbone of your future plans.


Each year the SSA will make a cost of living adjustment to your monthly income benefit. This increase protects your benefits against inflation. The amount of the adjustment will change from year to year based on other economic factors, but it is usually from 0 percent to 4 percent.


By the time you get approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may have gone months or even years without income. Depending on the date you’re found disabled (also called your established onset date) and at which stage of the process you get approved for benefits, you may be entitled to a substantial amount of back pay. The amount of back pay is based, in part, on your average lifetime earnings.


An experienced Richmond SSDI lawyer can help you calculate your monthly benefits and ensure that the SSA’s calculation is correct.


When Do SSDI Cash Benefits End?


Your monthly SSDI benefits end when one of the following occurs:


  • The second month after your the month your disability ends according to the SSA. This decision may be made as part of a continuing disability review (CDR). There are some conditions under which your disabled worker’s benefits may continue while you appeal the decision that you’re no longer disabled.


  • The month before the month you reach full retirement age. When you reach full retirement age your SSDI benefits convert to retirement insurance benefits automatically.


  • The month before the month you die.


Other Benefits of Qualifying for SSDI in Richmond, Virginia


There are additional benefits to qualifying for SSDI in Virginia. These include:


Protected Retirement Benefits at a Higher Rate

When you reach retirement age your SSDI benefit will end and you will start to receive regular Social Security retirement benefits. By applying for and obtaining SSDI benefits you freeze your primary insurance amount, which is the calculation that determines the amount of your monthly benefit payment. Because the years in which you receive SSDI benefits are not counted against your earnings record, your Social Security retirement benefits may be higher than they otherwise would have been because many people start to work less as they get closer to retirement age, which reduces their earnings.


Medical Coverage

You will become eligible for Medicare Part A (hospital benefits) and Medicare Part B (other medical benefits) 24 months after the date you become entitled to SSDI benefits. For many of you this may be the first time in years that you have medical coverage that allows you to choose the health care providers you treat with and to receive the specialized care you need for your physical and mental health impairments.


Prescription Drug Coverage

You will also become eligible for Medicare Part D 24 months after the date you become entitled to SSDI benefits. Medicare Part D helps pay for prescription drugs that you may need to treat your medical conditions and control your symptoms so that you have a better quality of life.


Extended COBRA Benefits

Many of you had health care coverage through an employer in the past. When you could no longer work because of your disability your coverage may have ended around the same time as your job. You then had the option of keeping health care coverage through COBRA for a limited period of time and at a high cost. If you get approved for SSDI benefits you can extend your COBRA benefits an additional 11 months, which should help you keep coverage until you become Medicare eligible.


Long Term Disability Benefits

Many long term disability insurance (LTD) policies require you to file an application for SSDI to keep your LTD benefits. If you refuse to file for SSDI benefits then you may lose your LTD benefits. So by going after disability insurance benefits you are protecting your finances. Long term disability lawyer Corey Pollard can help you navigate the two systems at the same time.


Increased Chance of a Workers Compensation Settlement

A severe work-related injury can affect your ability to return to work. If this describes your situation you should consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. When the workers compensation insurance carrier finds out that you’re applying for SSDI benefits it may be more likely to offer a fair workers compensation settlement. Further, a workers comp settlement that is structured properly can reduce any offset in SSDI benefits and increase the total amount of compensation you get in your pocket.


Opportunities to Return to Light Duty Work

When you receive disability insurance benefits the SSA will provide you with opportunities to try to return to work at a reduced capacity while still paying you monthly disability insurance benefits. You don’t have to worry about losing your SSDI benefits unless you return to work for an extended period making above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level.


A Richmond, Virginia SSDI Benefits Lawyer You Can Count On


Due to an increase in the number of applications for SSDI, the shrinking amount of funds available to pay the benefits, and the volume of applications decided, the majority of SSDI claims are denied at the initial application level. At the reconsideration stage of appeal, more than 80% of SSDI claims are denied.


The standard for receiving is SSDI benefits in Virginia is strict. Given how difficult it has become to get approved, having the best Social Security attorney on your side can be very helpful.


Having representation ensures that you will know and understand your options, that your case is being presented effectively to the SSA, and that you won’t have to deal with paperwork. The SSDI application process is overwhelming. Having a disability lawyer on your side helps.


If you are disabled and feel that you should be entitled to SSDI benefits, call or e-mail our SSDI lawyers Richmond VA today for a free, no strings consultation.