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Social Security Disability Insurance and Stroke

Post-stroke disability may leave you unable to work, which can lead to serious financial issues for you and your family. If you are unable to work due to a physical or mental impairment you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits

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What Is SSDI?

SSDI is a payroll tax-funded, federal insurance program. It provides income to you if you unable to work due to a disability and guarantees income if your condition does not improve. Once you reach retirement age you move from SSDI to Social Security retirement income.

You are defined as disabled if a physical or mental impairment prevents you from engaging in any substantial gainful work and the condition is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. Medical proof is required. You must have been disabled before reaching full retirement age (65 to 67). In addition, you must have worked and paid into the program (payroll taxes) for five of the past 10 years.

SSDI benefits include:

  • Regular monthly income. Receive a regular monthly payment with annual cost-of-living increases. A portion may be tax free.
  • Medicare benefits. Regardless of age, you are eligible for Medicare benefits 24 months after you are eligible for SSDI.
  • COBRA extension. If you receive SSDI, you may be able to extend COBRA benefits by an additional 11 months.
  • Long-term disability (LTD) benefits. Private LTD insurance providers often require individuals to apply for SSDI, and doing so can help protect the ability to receive LTD income.
  • Protected retirement benefits. SSDI recipients’ Social Security earnings records are frozen during the period of disability, potentially increasing future Social Security retirement benefits.
  • Dependent benefits. Dependents under age 18 may be eligible for benefits.
  • Return-to-work incentives. Receive return-to-work opportunities while still receiving disability benefits.

How do you apply for SSDI?

There are several ways to apply for SSDI. You can:

The SSDI application process can be challenging. It can take from two to four years to receive benefits once you apply for them.  

Myths about SSDI

Myth:  SSDI is only available to poor or low-income individuals.

Reality: Income is not a factor. Applicants must have worked and paid taxes. Typically, if you worked five of the past 10 years you will have enough credits to apply.

Myth: There is a 12-month waiting period after disability onset or leaving a job to apply for SSDI.

Reality: You can and should apply as soon as possible to receive and protect all benefits for which you are eligible.

Myth: You need an attorney to file for SSDI.

Reality: You do not need an attorney to file for SSDI or to appeal SSDI denials at the initial, reconsideration or hearing levels. There are many advantages to using a nonattorney representative.

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