You may be able to collect disability insurance and other benefits if you meet the government’s definition of disabled. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Veterans Affairs (VA) Disability Compensation have different requirements, but each program provides payments for each month during which you qualify.
Qualifying for disability insurance coverage could also qualify you for other benefit programs. For example, Social Security Income (SSI) could supplement your monthly SSDI payments and qualify you for enrollment in Medicare, a government health insurance program.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers the SSDI program with help from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The SSA approves or denies claims based on work history and IRS records. You can appeal denied disability applications, but you must go through a hearing.
The IRS records determine if you are “insured” for benefits from disability, retirement, and survivors programs. You gain one credit for each calendar quarter you work and earn sufficient wages – up to four credits a year.
The minimum amount of earnings for a credit changes annually. As of 2023, you earn four credits when you make $6,560 in the year, or you earn a credit when you make at least $1,640 in a calendar quarter. The following are the calendar quarter periods:
· January 1 to March 31
· April 1 to June 30
· July 1 to September 30
· October 1 to December 31
You are considered fully insured when you reach 40 credits. Since it takes at least 10 years to earn 40 credits, the SSA sets different credit requirements if you develop a disability at a younger age.
· Younger than 24 years of age – 18 months of work or six credits
· Between 24 and 30 years of age – the equivalent credits for half of the time between 21 years of age and when you became disabled
· Between 31 and 42 years of age – at least 20 credits earned in the immediate 10 years before your disability
· Between 42 and 61 years of age – 20 credits plus one credit for each year between 42 years of age and when you became disabled
· Older than 62 years of age – 40 credits with 20 earned in the immediate 10 years before your disability
You can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance for a child who developed a disability before 22 years of age. However, you (the parent) must be receiving Social Security disability or retirement benefits, or the child’s deceased parent must have earned enough credits.
The SSI benefit can be supplemental to SSDI payments. You may qualify for SSI if you have a limited income and are disabled, blind, or older than 65 years of age. You may also qualify for Medicare after receiving SSDI benefits for 24 months.
You may qualify for disability benefits from Veterans Affairs if your disability results from (or was made worse by) active duty, active duty for training, or inactive duty training. Your disability can affect your body or mind, including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), traumatic brain injury, and depression.
In addition to having a qualifying condition and military service, one of the following must be true:
· Inservice disability claim – Your condition occurred while serving in the military.
· Preservice disability claim – Your preexisting condition was made worse by military service.
· Postservice disability claim – Your condition manifested after your service but is directly related to your active-duty service.
· Presumed disability – Your condition appeared within one year of discharge, was caused by hazardous materials, or was the result of being a prisoner of war (POW).
Your disability check amount depends on your VA disability rating. The VA assigns you a VA disability rating based on information like your doctor’s report, medical tests, and VA claim exams.
If you are a spouse or a child of a disabled veteran, you may qualify for disability benefits through VA Dependency and Indemnity Compensation. Spouse and dependent disability benefits are added to the veteran’s disability award.