In these cases, social workers may want to consider helping their clients apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. Because the process for applying to these programs can be very complicated, it is a good idea to get guidance from an experienced Illinois disability attorney before proceeding with an application. Further, with increasing caseloads and limited resources, getting an attorney involved early can save the social worker valuable hours. With that said, knowing the basics about qualifying and applying for these programs can help social workers decide whether disability benefits might be right for their clients.
Who qualifies for SSD and SSI?
The Social Security Disability insurance program is designed for people who worked in the past but are no longer able to because of a disabling illness or medical condition. The work requirements are different depending on age, but most adults over age 31 will have to have worked at least five years in the 10-year period before the disability began.
In addition, although the disability does not have to be permanent, it does have to be long-term. SSD benefits are only available to individuals whose condition is expected to either last at least one year or to result in death.
Supplemental Security Income, on the other hand, is available to disabled individuals with little or no income, regardless of their work history. In addition to meeting income requirements, applicants must show that their condition will either result in death, or be totally disabling for more than 12 months.
Applying for SSD and SSI
The first step to applying for either SSD or SSI benefits is to gather medical documentation detailing the extent of the applicant’s disability. The best step is to talk to the current treating medical providers to make sure they agree that disability is appropriate. Then, the applicant submits a formal application to the Social Security Administration, which reviews the case and decides whether the applicant qualifies for benefits. If the SSA denies the claim (which happens far more often than it should), the applicant has access to several levels of appeal.
The stronger the medical documentation, the greater the chance that the applicant will be approved for benefits in a timely manner. An attorney can help by reviewing all of the facts before it is submitted to ensure that all the necessary information is provided and the claimant knows what will be needed to get the claim approved.
Applying for Social Security benefits is a daunting process, but help is out there. Social workers who want to learn more about how to help their clients would be wise to contact an experienced Illinois disability attorney for a free consultation. Free in service trainings are also helpful for an entire staff.