The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that nearly one out of every four Americans has a disability. That amounts to 61 million citizens with a mental or physical impairment affecting their daily lives who could be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSD).
The government designed SSD as financial assistance for impaired individuals who have paid Social Security taxes here in Tennessee and elsewhere. If you qualify, your income and tax history determines the amount you receive.
Apply as soon as you become disabled
To be eligible for SSD benefits, your condition should be expected to last at least one year. However, if your impairment makes it impossible to work and is expected to continue, you can apply for benefits immediately. If you qualify for disability payments, know the following:
- Benefit amount formula: Go to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website and set up an account where you can access your earnings information. The statement will detail what you are eligible to receive as well as your monthly amount.
- Avoid taking early retirement: Receiving disability benefits will keep you from taking Social Security retirement benefits early. Those benefits would be significantly reduced if you haven’t reached full retirement age.
- Report changes in status: If your condition changes and you can work, the SSA allows a trial work period, meaning you will keep getting SSD benefits regardless of how much you earn. The trial period continues until you have worked nine months during a five-year period.
- Look for other assistance: In addition to SSD benefits, you could also qualify for other forms of assistance, including food stamps, or help to pay your energy bill through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Be thorough during the application process and seek help
Ask your doctor for help in filling out your SSD application and be specific about how your impairment affects your ability to work. Seeking the advice of an attorney experienced with SSD claims here in Tennessee is a good way to maximize your benefits and present the best case possible. Your attorney can also help you with an appeal if your claim is denied.