Let’s start with the two types of social security disability benefits in the US.
I think the question most people are thinking is “am I sick enough” to qualify for disability. A fair question, and the law has very specific criteria for qualifying.
SSI and SSDI.
Which one you qualify for, makes a huge difference in your approval decision.
The major difference is that SSI determination is based on age/disability and limited income and resources, whereas SSDI determination is based on disability and work credits.National Council on Aging
Read the above link for more specific details on the difference between SSI and SSDI, but here’s a brief synopsis.
My Disability Approval Experience
It was approved the first time I applied. And 4 months from the date I submitted paperwork, all of my backpay showed up in my bank account – which happened before I even knew I was approved!!
No denials. No court appearances. No phone calls or any of that. Just a boatload of documentation…. and I was applying for SSDI benefits.
I receive SSDI benefits. I owned my own business and paid into social security as part of the taxes I paid as a self-employed entrepreneur. I’m also in my 50’s, had a ton of documentation and more than one qualifying health condition.
I also hired an attorney. I’m not sure, in my case, that the attorney really played a role in my approval, I think my health and documentation did that. However, I’m glad I had an attorney on-hand, should I have needed one.
What You Can Do to Help Your Case
Journal your everyday life. That might seem like an extreme statement, but you need to have very detailed notes on how your daily life is affected.
This is especially true for getting approved for SSI, as that’s a tougher approval process, based on what I hear from others, and my own personal experience in a quick SSDI approval.
I recommend you journal and track:
- Your symptoms Track your symptoms daily. i.e. fatigue, insomnia, pain location, numbness, muscle spasms, nausea, etc…
- Your pain level Track your pain level each day.
- Doctor visits (including what specialty they treat)
- Treatments used, how effective they were
- How was your day How that particular day your life was affected by your condition. Be specific, for example: Today I had X symptoms. I was unable to shower today, as my pain level was X. I could only sit/stand/walk for X amount of time (or specific distance) due to my symptoms, etc… You get the idea. This isn’t where you sugar coat your daily life, but also be honest. If your day wasn’t horrible, then log that too.
Free Journal Page Downloads
- Pain & Symptoms Journal (PDF – fill out online or print)
- Pain Chart (PDF)
- Blank Journal Page (PDF – fill out online or print)
In my case, I did not submit any notes, but I did give very detailed account – details that would be in a journal – of what my daily life is like, with my health conditions.
So even if you are never asked to submit your journal, having that information is very valuable, should it be needed. Better to have it and not need it; than to need it and not have it.
Regardless of which type of disability benefits you are applying for, get all your documentation in order. According to the Social Security Administration, the average wait time to receive a decision is 3-5 months. I usually hear much longer time frames than that, but good to know that the average time is only 3-5 months.
Here’s a PDF document from the SSA giving details on disability benefits and should answer most of your questions.
Have you applied for disability? Which type did you apply for and what was your experience like. I’d love to hear your experience. Just comment below.