Losing the ability to work can be a financial disaster. This happens to 25 percent of American who become disabled by the time they reach 67. But Social Security disability insurance can replace some income for workers with disabilities who can no longer work.

SSDI benefits depend on a worker’s age and how much money they earned when they were able to work. Benefits are intended to replace 40 percent of their income. The average benefit amount was $1,383 per month in Jan 2020, according to the Social Security Administration.

Workers pay taxes that support SSDI during their working years. The SSA collects 6.2 percent of worker earnings up to $137,700 while employers also pay this percentage of worker wages. For benefit eligibility, workers generally had to pay Social Security through their FICA taxes for five of the 10 years before becoming disabled.

Applications may be made in person, online or over the telephone. But this process may be complicated.

Workers must explain what work they can no longer do because of their disability. Claimants are ineligible for benefits if they can do any work, even if it is different than their earlier job or requires much less skill. Claimants need to show that they are unable to work with a condition that is expected to last at least one year or end in death.

Claimants should list their medications and the drugs’ side effects in their application. A physician’s statement concerning the claimant’s inability to work is also helpful. Medical records should also be organized along with information on doctor visits, diagnosis and any other helpful information.

If an application is submitted at an SSA office, the interviewer will make field office observations and note the worker’s behavior, appearance, grooming or limitations. This can provide more information than an online or telephone application.

It may take SSA several months to review to review an application. After a claimant begins receiving benefits, the SSA will periodically review their file to determine continued eligibility. It is important to continue to keep all relevant records.

Claimants may appeal a decision denying their claim. An attorney can assist with these appeals and assure that proper information is filed as part of the application.