We have all heard of it; but what is it?
Photo by Bernd Klutsch on Unsplash
By Guest Author: Wayla Todd
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal government program funded by payroll taxes. Its pays benefits to disabled insured workers and certain family members. The key word being “insured.” Just because you have work, doesn’t necessarily mean that you are an insured work by Social Security Disability rules.
To be insured, a worker must have worked and paid Social Security taxes prior to when their disability began. While working and paying Social Security taxes, a worker earns credits based on the amount of taxes paid. In 2023, $1,640 in wages earned one credit.1 A worker can earn up to four (4) credits a year. Insured status is reached when a worker has earned 40 credits, with 20 of those credits being earned within the last 10 years ending when your disability began. The rules for insured status are different for workers under the age of 31.
Social Security defines “disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” 2 Social Security uses a five-step process, called the Sequential Evaluation, to determine if a worker meets the definition of disability.
Under the five-step process, Social Security will look at:
- your current work activity;
- the severity of your medical impairment(s);
- if your medical impairment(s) falls within one of their Listings of medical impairments;
- your ability to do work (residual functional capacity (RFC)) and your past work; and
- your RFC, age, education and work experience to see if you can adjust to other work.3
As workers we all pay into Social Security Disability and the program is set up to help us when we are no longer able to work. However, being approved for benefits is a complicated and strict process.
For more information about Social Security Disability Insurance and Social Security’s other benefit programs, you can visit SSA.gov.
ABOUT WAYLA TODD:
I have a broad background with a Master’s degree from George Washington University in Paralegal Studies and worked in the legal field doing Social Security Disability and Personal injury for 22 years. Currently I live in Berea, Kentucky with my wonderful family and am the Administrative Assistant for the Nursing Department at Berea College.
I know how hard it is to be a Caregiver and to have to manage the different forms and processes for Social Security Disability among other things. Thankfully from my career choice I was able to navigate these things for my Mom when she became ill, but I know many people have trouble and need help to understand the process. As part of my Caregiving journey for my Mom I did a lot of her personal care and also managed her financial affairs.
I know first hand how to navigate the different account issues that come up as you are taking over finances from your Loved One and the many hurdles that come up while you are making all the changes. After she died I was the executor and once again, I learned how to close and move accounts, finding the right paperwork to process and finalize her estate.
Like Lili, I am grateful if I can share the information I gathered during my journey with my Mom and am very pleased if I can help save others the time and headaches of trial and error on the financial and legal aspects of supporting their Loved One’s through illness and final transition.