If you have a disease or disability that has lasted for a year, is expected to last for a year or will likely kill you, you cannot work. Bill collectors do not care. Landlords and mortgage companies do not care. Your utility company does not care.
These creditors still want to be paid, and they will shut off your utilities, foreclose on your home and repossess your car for non-payment. This is why the Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs exist.
The SSDI program
To be clear, while SSDI and SSI have the same definition of disability, each program is intended for different recipients. The SSDI program is only for those applicants who are insured by it.
These are people who have the required amount of Social Security taxes paid from their earnings within a given number of years prior to the application. The specific amounts vary per state.
The SSI program
The SSI program does not have such a requirement. Instead, this program is for both adults and children with a qualifying disability or illness who meet the state’s indigency requirements. In other words, SSI applicants must have income and assets below certain thresholds to qualify.
Most applicants file their applications online. However, you can still file in person and over the phone. Regardless of how you file, the documentation requirements are the same.
You must be able to document your qualification for either program, including your qualifying disability or illness. Luckily, the Social Security Administration helps by providing an Adult Disability Checklist.
Once your application is submitted to the SSA, it does the initial substantiation of the application for sufficiency and qualification for either the SSDI or SSI program. However, the ultimate decision is up to your state’s Disability Determination Services office.
The process usually takes 3-6 months from application to the initial decision.
You can check your application status on your own online Social Security account. You can, however, elect to use an attorney initially, during the processing stage or at any level of the appeal process, if your initial application is denied.