Free SSDI Application Worksheet
What to know before you apply - and why.
This absolutely free, downloadable worksheet will help. It has items to gather before you begin filling out your SSDI application form, plus expert tips to make the process go more smoothly. Best of all, you don’t need to be an SSDI benefits expert to understand it.
Earnings from jobs covered by Social Security are used to determine the amount of monthly SSDI benefit payments. Right now, the average for an individual is $1,171, and the maximum is $2,687.
For SSDI, you must be younger than retirement age.
Enter your average for the last 10 years, up to $120,000
You can decide whether to get your SSDI benefit payments by debit card, or a direct deposit into your bank account.Source
Approval for SSDI unlocks access to money-saving benefits beyond your monthly payments.
You’re not alone: 53 million adults have a disability. Over 2 million people apply for SSDI each year and 33% get approved at the initial application level.Source 1 | Source 2
Aid to the blind was the only federal disability help available.Source
A total of about 9 million Americans are receiving SSDI benefits.Source
20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement age.Source
Federal funding means SSDI is technically a federal program. But it's state-run, so the process varies based on where you live.Source
SSDI benefits include incentives for going back to work. Here's a look at how many SSDI recipients have used those incentives over the past decade:
took advantage of return to work incentives
had a working break from benefits
found work ended their need for benefits
Learn to speak SSDI, here and now. This glossary of terms includes what’s most important to know, including the legal disability definition that’s used for SSDI.
This type of judge resolves disputes between the SSA and individuals. If your initial application and reconsideration for SSDI benefits are both denied, the next step in the process is a hearing with an ALJ.
If your SSDI application is denied, it is your right to request an official review of the decision. This is considered an appeal, and you can request appeals up to 4 times during the SSDI claims process.
Because it can take a long time to process SSDI claims, some benefits are paid in a lump sum after approval. These benefits go back as far as 12 months before the date of your initial application, and are sometimes also called retroactive benefits or past-due benefits.
This program shortens Social Security Disability approval time for people with disabilities that are permanent or often fatal, reducing a lengthy process from months to days.
This is the date that the Social Security Administration determines you will begin receiving SSDI benefit payments. It will be several months after your “onset date,” or the date when your condition began, because a waiting period is required.
1) SSA legal definition: Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity 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) Everyday translation: You have a medical condition that prevents you from any type of work for 12 months or more, or result in death.
They decide whether or not SSDI applicants are disabled. After reviewing your application, your state’s DDS gathers information from your physicians and may ask you to have an exam with their own physician.
This short form is sent in to the SSA before your SSDI application, and is only needed if you plan to apply with the help of a representative.
Federal health insurance for people with disabilities or aged 65 and up. If you’re approved for SSDI, you’ll automatically have Medicare coverage 24 months after your date of entitlement to monthly SSDI payments.
This branch of the SSA manages appeal hearings for SSDI benefit applicants. When you file a Request for Hearing (the appeal level after Reconsideration), it is sent to your local OHO for assignment to a judge (ALJ).
If your initial SSDI application is approved, you never take this step. If it’s denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal form requesting reconsideration, or a formal review of your case. Reconsideration is level two in the SSDI benefits claim process, and not offered in some states.
The federal government agency in charge of programs for retirement, SSDI, SSI, Medicare, and survivors’ benefits.
Wage replacement available to people who cannot work due to long-term medical conditions. Monthly benefits are paid to those who prove they meet the SSA’s strict qualifications.
Like SSDI, this federal program is run by the SSA. It helps people with very limited incomes who are disabled or more than 65 years old. Work history is not a factor for approval, and some states offer added SSI benefits of their own.
Support for people who receive SSDI or SSI benefits, are between 18-64 years of age, and wish to return to work. This program allows people to go back to work and explore options without losing cash or medical benefits.
SSDI benefit payments don’t start right away. There is a wait that starts with your “onset date,” or the official date that the SSA determines your disability began. Waiting ends 5 full months after your onset date. So unless your onset date is on the first of the month, your wait is more than 5 months.
Unfortunately, the SSDI process can mean lots of waiting, so make it your goal to get approved as early as possible in the process.
Give careful attention to initial application forms, whether you work on them alone or with a representative’s help. Also consider taking an assessment before you fill out a single blank on your application, to ensure the time you invest in the SSDI process is well spent.
There is a 5-month waiting period for benefits, but if your application process takes longer it doesn’t apply.Source
Should you apply on your own, hire an attorney, or choose a representative's online tool?
This comparison can help you decide.
|Apply on Your Own||Hire an Attorney||Use a Representative's Online Tool|
|Professional knowledge and experience|
|Option for first-time applicants||Sometimes|
|Requires no appointments|
|Can complete entirely from home|
|Fees approved by the SSA||No Fee|
|Includes help with Medicare choices||Sometimes|
|No communication with SSA required|
|Assistance with appeals|
|Offers support for return to work|
SSDI application questions aren’t always as simple as they seem. Here are some examples that have the potential to trip people up or cause confusion. That’s why expert representatives who help applicants file for benefits can better determine the correct response, case-by-case, with additional follow-up questions.
This answer can be difficult to pin down if you have multiple conditions related to your disability and multiple dates to consider. It complicates things even more if there were times you attempted to return to work, then realized it wasn’t possible.
This question seems straightforward, but be careful. What you and the SSA see as earnings may not be the same. For instance, you probably see pay for sick or vacation days as earnings. But the SSA does not. The same goes for any payments from a short- or long-term disability plan: not pay, according to the SSA.
Before answering here, consider how and why you prepare meals. Do you do it only when friends or family can’t help by doing it for you? Does it take you a long time and require additional pain medication? Without follow-up questions to determine the full scope of your activity level or severity of your condition(s), your answer could be misinterpreted.
Consider empower by Allsup® if you’re worried about filling out an application for SSDI on your own. It’s expert help from professionals who have been assisting people with disabilities and working directly with the SSA for more than 30 years.
empower has 24/7 support and online video guidance every step of the way. It helps you apply smarter, giving you a 50% better chance of first-time approval than applying on your own.
There are no up-front or hidden costs when you apply for SSDI with empower. Only if you’re approved, you’re charged a one-time fee. The SSA regulates this fee, which is 25% of the dollar amount of your retroactive SSDI benefits payment, and no more than $6,000.
Consider empower by Allsup® if you’re worried about filling out an application for SSDI on your own. It’s expert help from professionals who have been assisting people with disabilities and working closely with the SSA, helping to improve the SSDI application process.
With online support and video guidance every step of the way, empower helps you apply smarter, giving you a 50% better chance of first-time approval than applying on your own.
There are no up-front or hidden costs when you apply for SSDI with empower. Only if you’re approved, you’re charged a one-time fee. This fee is limited by the SSA to 25% of your retroactive or back benefits, and can never be more than $6,000.
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