APPLYING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY AND SSI:
- Who can get Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (DIB)?
- Who can get Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
- How can I get SSI if I’m aged or blind?
- How can I get benefits for a disability?
- When should I apply for the DIB and SSI programs?
- Where do I apply for Social Security programs?
- What evidence should I include with my application?
- Are there special rules if my disability is based on alcoholism or drug addiction?
- What happens after I apply?
- Can I get other help while waiting for Social Security benefits?
- What happens if I’m found to be eligible for benefits?
- WHO CAN GET SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE BENEFITS (DIB)?
Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, also called DIB, SSD, or Title 2 benefits, are for any disabled person who can no longer work, but who has the required history of working. The disabled person’s spouse, dependent children and parents, and even a divorced spouse might also be able to get DIB. This program is an insurance program: while a person works he or she pays money into the Social Security system and is eligible to get benefits if he or she becomes disabled and can no longer work.
- WHO CAN GET SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI)?
SSI, also called Title 16, benefits are for any person who is blind, disabled or elderly (65 or over) and who meets certain income and resource rules. You do not need to have a work history. The income rules depend on your living arrangements and whether you apply as a single person or couple. Resources include cash, savings, investments and valuables. But they do not include a needed car, your home, ordinary belongings, or some life insurance policies.
- HOW CAN I GET SSI IF I’M AGED OR BLIND?
If you are applying for SSI as aged, you must show that you are 65 or over. If you are applying for SSI as blind, you must give evidence that you have corrected vision of 20/200 or worse in your better eye.
- HOW CAN I GET BENEFITS FOR A DISABILITY?
To get benefits from the DIB or SSI disability programs you must show you are “disabled.” “Disabled” means that a physical and/or mental impairment or impairments keep you from working any regular, paying job. Your disability must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months, or be expected to result in death. It is normally not enough to show that you cannot do your old job. You must show that you cannot do any kind of full-time work, taking into consideration your age, education and experience. Different rules apply if you are over 50 years of age. You cannot get benefits if you are able to work, even if no one will hire you.
- WHEN SHOULD I APPLY FOR THE DIB AND SSI PROGRAMS?
Apply as soon as possible after disability occurs. You do not need to wait 12 months to apply.
An application for DIB may also be filed after the death of a disabled worker. You must apply within three months of the worker’s death. If the claim is approved, back payments may be made for some months before the worker died.
- WHERE DO I APPLY FOR SOCIAL SECURITY PROGRAMS?
You must make an appointment to apply. You can make this appointment at your local Social Security office or by calling 1-800-772-1213.
- WHAT EVIDENCE SHOULD I INCLUDE WITH MY APPLICATION?
To get SSI or DIB, you must have medical evidence that shows you have some physical or mental impairment(s) that makes you unable to work. Medical evidence includes doctor or hospital reports, chart notes, test results, and letters. The more medical evidence you have, the better chance you will have of winning benefits. List all the medical evidence that you have when you apply.
- ARE THERE SPECIAL RULES IF MY DISABILITY IS BASED ON ALCOHOLISM OR DRUG ADDICTION?
Beginning in April, 1996, people who are disabled because of the current use of alcohol or another drug are not eligible to receive benefits. If you have a drug addiction or alcohol problem your disability must be caused by another medical problem that makes you unable to work in order to be eligible for benefits. The basic test is: would you still be disabled if you stopped using drugs or alcohol? If so, then you are eligible for benefits.
- WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I APPLY?
The SSA will contact your doctors and request records. They also may send you to a doctor for an evaluation. Whenever possible you should try to take copies of your medical records to the doctor because the doctor will usually have no records of your medical history.
- CAN I GET OTHER HELP WHILE WAITING FOR SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS?
While you are waiting for a decision by SSA you may be able to get General Assistance from the State of Oregon if you are single or have a disabled spouse, and have very little in the way of financial resources. You must have medical evidence showing that you will be disabled at least one year. You will also be asked to sign a statement saying you will pay back welfare for your General Assistance if you get SSI benefits. If you do not get those benefits you do not have to repay welfare.
- WHAT HAPPENS IF I’M FOUND TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS?
If you are found eligible for DIB, you will get benefits beginning 5 full months after you became disabled, but only for a maximum of 12 months before you applied for benefits.
If you are eligible for SSI, you will get benefits back the first day of the month after the month in which you applied, or later if Social Security believes your disability began after you applied. If you were getting General Assistance you may have to pay back the state out of your retroactive benefit check.