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5 things to know about SSDI

Suffering an injury or developing a health problem that keeps you from working is difficult. For a lot of us, our identities tie into our career. When you can't go to your job, you may feel upset or confused.

But help is available. The U.S. government has designed Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to aid you in your time of need. Though you've likely heard of SSDI, you may not know what it's all about.

How much does SSDI pay?

After SSDI approval, you receive benefits the first six months after your disability started. After that, SSDI pays benefits monthly.

How much you receive from SSDI each month is based on your average lifetime earnings. In 2019, the maximum you can receive each month, after meeting certain income and age requirements, is $2,788.

How do I apply for SSDI?

If you believe your disability no longer allows you to work - and you expect that disability to last a year or more or result in your death - you may be eligible for SSDI. Some medical conditions covered by SSDI include heart disease, severe back or neck injuries, cancer, amputation, diabetes, traumatic brain injuries and more.

To apply for SSDI, you must fill out the necessary application paperwork from the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provide evidence of your disability. Anyone applying for SSDI must provide "objective medical evidence" of their condition, including a detailed description of all conditions and things like X-rays, lab test results and a recommendation from a medical professional.

My application was rejected. Now what?

Initial applications for SSDI are commonly rejected. In fact, over 60 percent of initial applications result in denial. But don't worry. After rejection of an application, there are a series of steps to appeal the decision. Often, it can be helpful to hire a lawyer to help gather documentation of your disability to present to the SSA.

Does SSDI cover mental health issues?

Yes. Many mental health disorders qualify as impairments covered by SSDI, including:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Schizophrenia
  • Autism
  • Eating disorders
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Intellectual disorders

Applying for SSDI for a mental health disorder requires the same kind of medical evidence as other medical conditions.

My condition improved. Can I return to work?

SSDI assists people in going back to work if their health improves. With the Ticket to Work program, people on SSDI may receive some benefits while trying to return to their careers. People on SSDI are eligible to receive benefits for nine months - not necessarily consecutively - in a 60-month period, while attempting to work again.

Known as the "trial work period," it kicks in once you make over $880 in a month. It is designed to help people see if they can work again, while still receiving support for their conditions.

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