Whether you’re fresh out of college and starting your first-ever “grown-up” job or you’ve been a part of the workforce for decades, you never know what’s around the corner. That’s why it’s always best to be prepared for any eventuality, and that includes unexpected illnesses or injuries.
Nearly one in six working-age Americans (that’s around 30 million people) have a disability that prevents them from being able to take a job, which disproportionately puts them at risk of economic hardship. But for some of those people, social security disability insurance (SSDI) is the lifeline that they need to continue living independent lives, pay their bills, and cover essential medical costs.
You may be wondering “what insurance do you get with social security disability?” We’re here to give you the rundown on everything you need to know about SSDI, how it can support you if you ever need to make a claim, and what the application process looks like.
We know there are a lot of terms floating around out there—SSDI, SSI, Medicare, Medicaid...the list is endless (and confusing).
When it comes to social security disability insurance (SSDI), this refers to the financial support that workers with disabilities under the age of 65 receive each month from the federal government.
You can keep claiming these benefits for as long as you’re unable to work or even until retirement (when those benefits will automatically convert to retirement payouts of the same amount).
If you think that you may be able to return to work, you’ll be placed in a trial period. This means that you can work for up to nine months while still keeping your eligibility for SSDI benefits, although your payouts will be adjusted based on the amount you’re now earning from your job. If you later find that you’re unable to continue working during that trial period as a result of the same disability, you won’t need to re-qualify for SSDI and will instead revert back to your previous benefits automatically.
Before you think about making a claim, it’s important to understand the difference between SSDI, supplemental security income (SSI) and retirement, survivors, and disability insurance (RSDI). Yes, we know all of these acronyms are enough to make your eyes glaze over (especially since they all sound the same), but stick with us.
SSI is used to provide financial assistance to older adults and people with disabilities who have limited income or access to resources. This is often supplemented by state programs wherever the individual lives. Individuals are eligible for SSI if they’re over 65, are legally blind, or have a disability and limited or no income. SSDI eligibility is based on both disability and previous work history.
Social security administration retirement survivors and disability insurance (RSDI) is a program specifically for families where a primary wage earner retires and is unable to work, or for widows/widowers or children of a deceased breadwinner who was entitled to or receiving SSDI benefits before their death. There are a number of different eligibility requirements for this program, so it’s best to work with an attorney or state representative when filing a claim.
Because the benefits for SSDI come from the federal government, the Social Security Administration has an incredibly strict definition of disability when it comes to your ability to perform your job duties and the possible length of your disability.
The phrase that you may see used by the Social Security Administration (SSA) is “substantial gainful activity.” To qualify for SSDI, individuals must not be able to earn more than a fixed amount ($1,310 in 2021) each month from working or completing this substantial gainful activity, although you can earn money in other ways than working and still receive SSDI benefits. Blind applicants may make up to $2,190 to receive benefits.
Generally speaking, you’ll need to meet the following criteria to qualify for SSDI:
- Have a medical condition that prevents you from completing any kind of work for at least 12 months, or an illness that’s expected to result in death
- Meet the SSA definition of a disability
- Have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years in jobs covered by social security and paid into the program through payroll taxes
- Be of working age—this is considered to be between 21 and 65-67, depending on when you were born
Short-term or partial disabilities are not covered by either SSDI or SSI, so you’ll want to look into private insurance options to cover yourself for these situations.
There are also a number of special situations where some of these standard rules don’t apply, like individuals who are blind or have low vision, widows or widowers of a disabled person, or for disabled children under the age of 22. It’s best to check the SSA website for more information if you think that one of these exemptions may be applicable to your situation.
If you’ve been receiving regular paychecks at your job for a while, you may have noticed some of the deductions that are made before the money ever hits your bank account. SSDI is one of those payroll tax contributions that the SSA requires employers to withhold. The current withholding rate is around 0.9% on wages up to $113,700.
If you’re eligible to receive SSDI benefits, these will begin during the sixth month of your disability, with the maximum monthly benefit currently standing at $3,148. How much you actually receive will depend on your work history, the earnings you made from employed positions that took social security deductions, and the size of your family or dependents you have. The average for workers across the country is around $1,200 each month.
You may have heard that when you receive SSDI benefits, you qualify for federal health insurance (especially if you lose your employer-sponsored coverage since you’re no longer able to work). While this is true, it’s not quite as straightforward as you think.
Medicare is a government-run program that offers health insurance for individuals with disabilities of any age and for those aged 65 or over. Social security disability Medicare supplemental insurance is automatically available for those who are receiving SSDI benefits after a 24-month waiting period from when you started receiving your payouts. If you’re diagnosed with ALS or are receiving dialysis for end-stage renal disease, that waiting period is waived and you’ll be enrolled in Medicare straight away.
The social security disability insurance application process can seem overwhelming. Once you’ve filled out a number of forms, the SSA will review them and make a determination based on their legal definition of disability and the notes you’ve provided from your medical care team.
It often takes anywhere from three to six months for an initial application to be approved or denied, and it can take another three to five months if you’re denied and resubmit for reconsideration. Medical evidence is crucial, as are details about jobs you’ve held over the last 10 to 15 years, so keep your records organized and stay on top of any paperwork you receive from your employer, doctors, or the SSA.
Navigating the social security disability insurance system can take months—even years—before you receive any benefits at all. When you’re in need of funds to sustain yourself in the midst of an illness or injury, having additional income options can make all the difference.
Taking out private disability insurance could provide you with the money you need to pay your bills and keep a roof over your head as you wait for your claim to go through the federal system.
And even better? Here at Asteya, we like to make that process as simple and easy for you as possible. Contact us today and apply for no-exam, hassle-free disability insurance.