Answers to Frequently Asked Social Security Disability Questions – Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

In this post-COVID era and period of long COVID health complications, many Americans have become increasingly aware that they could become the victim of a life-threatening illness, injury or disability that makes it impossible for them to work and support their families. This has sparked new attention toward the intricacies of the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) process and its many requirements for approval.

American workers should become familiar with the financial protections and career support that this federal disability insurance offers just in case the unexpected strikes. Having the right information and the right representation can increase the likelihood of approval and yield financial and professional security.

Here are answers to some common questions about this federal insurance, which covers more than 156 million U.S. workers.

What is the minimum and maximum Social Security will pay for disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines how much a person receives based on the amount of past earnings that an individual has paid into their FICA taxes for all the years they’ve worked. It’s important to know that the severity of a disability does not affect how much a person will receive. The average SSDI payment is $1,358 in 2022, with the maximum amount reaching about $3,300. In addition, individuals with dependents (under 18) could receive an additional amount of half the monthly benefit. An easy way to estimate a monthly SSDI payment is to use a benefits calculator.

What conditions are considered a disability?

Any condition could quality for SSDI benefits, if the person’s severity and medical evidence support the claim for benefits. To meet the SSA’s definition of disability, an individual must not be able to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or lead to death.

The SSA maintains a list of physical and mental impairments and guidelines for specific conditions that will automatically qualify a person for SSDI benefits. However, applicants can still apply for SSDI even if their condition is not listed. Social Security may consider the applicant’s conditions as long as it limits function and ability to work.

What makes someone eligible for Social Security disability?

There are a few criteria for someone to be eligible for SSDI.

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