Some people carry their own disability insurance. They might have benefits to their employer or have made the decision to invest in as much insurance coverage as possible. However, most people won’t have supplemental or secondary disability insurance benefits if they suffer a serious injury or illness that prevents them from working.
Those without private insurance benefits may need to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Before you invest the time and effort necessary to apply for SSDI, you probably want to make sure that you meet the three primary criteria for the benefits.
You must have made payroll tax contributions to Social Security
Both employees and independent contractors have to pay Social Security taxes. Most people draw on these taxes for retirement benefits when they are older, but the same tax withholdings help fund disability benefits for those too young to retire and yet unable to work.
You can check with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to determine if you have made enough contributions to qualify for SSDI. Those who have not may still be able to receive Supplemental Security income (SSI).
You must have a truly debilitating medical condition
Other than financial eligibility, the severity of your condition is the most important factor in whether or not you will get benefits. The SSA defines disabling conditions as those that leave you unable to perform any sort of paid work or that make you dependent on the care of others in your daily life. If you can’t keep a job or live independently, you may qualify.
Your condition must last at least one year or be terminal
Your condition must have lasted or be expected to persist for at least 12 months. The exception to that 12-month requirement is if it’s terminal..
Provided that you meet all three of these criteria, you may be able to receive SSDI benefits if you apply. Getting support while navigating the application process can increase your chances of success.