When people in the U.S. Virgin Islands hear about Social Security, they most likely think about retirement. The Social Security Administration also offers other programs besides retirement benefits, however. One of these programs, called the Social Security Disability Insurance program, provides monetary benefits on a monthly basis to eligible workers who have suffered disabilities that prevent them from returning to their jobs or to other employment. This may help you to pay for your expenses while you are disabled.
What is SSDI?
When you receive your paychecks from your job, you will see that the government automatically deducts money for Social Security. A portion of these deductions goes to pay for the SSDI, which is a type of insurance. Since the deductions are automatic, many workers are unaware that they might have coverage available to them. Since its inception in 1956, the program has grown and now provides coverage to approximately 9.5 million disabled workers.
The SSDI program is commonly confused with another type of assistance that might be available from the SSA. This second program is called Supplemental Security Income. Unlike SSDI, SSI is available to certain disabled workers based on their financial needs rather than on their work histories. By contrast, SSDI eligibility depends on your having attained the required minimum work credits along with your disability meeting certain criteria.
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have the following minimum work credits, depending on your age:
- If you are 21 to 24, you must have earned six credits in the preceding three years.
- If you are 24 to 31, you must have earned enough credits during the time since you turned 21 that equal what you earned during half of that time period.
- If you are 32 to 42, you must have earned 20 credits during the past 10 years.
- If you are 43 or older, you must have earned 22 to 40 credits, depending on your age. Twenty of your credits must have been earned during the last 10 years.
Social Security disability in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Besides earning enough work credits, your disability must also meet the requirements that are outlined by the SSA. The agency’s guidelines for qualifying disabilities are more stringent than those of other government programs. Your condition must prevent you from doing both your former job and other types of work. Your doctor must also have certified that your disability is expected to last at least one year or to lead to your death.
Here are a few of the many examples of qualifying conditions for SSDI:
If you decide to apply for SSDI, you will need to be able to prove that your disability meets or exceeds the SSA’s requirements. In order to do this, you will need to understand all of the complex language in your medical records. You should keep in mind that the SSA denies most applications that are initially filed no matter if they are accurate and contain the needed evidence.
If you receive a notice of denial, you will have a limited time period to appeal it. The Social Security Administration has an internal four-step appeal process. It is possible that you may be able to win on your appeal, but you should understand that the appeals are usually more complicated than the applications.
Getting help from an attorney
Whether you are getting ready to apply or need to appeal a denial, getting the help of the experienced legal team at Chermol & Fishman LLC may make the difference in your ultimate success. Our team of highly skilled and knowledgeable disability attorneys may help you through all stages of the process, including the completion of your application, gathering your medical records and other evidence, submission of your application and appeal and representation through all hearings. Contact us today to schedule your consultation so that you can learn more about SSDI in the U.S. Virgin Islands.