When people in the U.S. Virgin Islands hear about Social Security, they most likely think about retirement. The Social Security Administration offers other programs aside from retirement benefits.
One of the programs is called the Social Security Disability Insurance program (SSDI). SSDI provides monthly monetary benefits to eligible workers who have suffered disabilities that prevent them from returning to their jobs or to other employment. This program may help you to pay for your basic necessities if you are disabled and unable to work as a result.
When you receive paychecks from your job, you will see that the government automatically deducts money from them 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 (SSI). Unlike SSDI, SSI is available to certain disabled workers based on their financial needs rather than on their work histories.
In contrast, SSDI eligibility depends on whether you have attained the required minimum work credits and have a qualifying disability that meets certain criteria.
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have the following minimum work credits, which depend 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 been earning credits throughout half the time since your 21st birthday
- 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 ten years.
Other than 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 for 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. To do this, you will need to understand all of the complex terminology in your medical records, which can be difficult and overwhelming. You should keep in mind that the SSA denies most applications that are initially filed, even if they are accurate and contain sufficient evidence.
If you receive a notice of denial, you will have a limited amount of time to appeal it. The Social Security Administration has an internal four-step appeal process. You may be able to win your appeal, but the appeals process is usually more complicated than the initial application process.
Whether you are getting ready to apply or need to appeal a denial, getting the right help from an experienced attorney at Chermol & Fishman LLC may make the difference in your ultimate success.
Our team of highly skilled and knowledgeable disability attorneys can help you through all stages of the process. Our legal team will help you complete and submit your application, gather your medical records and other evidence, appeal, and provide you with representation throughout all potential hearings.
Contact us today to schedule your consultation so that you can learn more about SSDI in the U.S. Virgin Islands.