Notebook with Social Security Disability Benefits written on it plus piggy bank

We Help Individuals Nationwide Navigate the SSI or SSDI Disability Application Process

A disabling medical diagnosis can affect nearly every aspect of your life, including your ability to maintain employment and earn a living. If you have a severe medically determinable impairment that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity for one year or longer, you might qualify for assistance from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The federal agency manages two programs for people with disabilities: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a needs-based program for people with limited income and resources, and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which provides benefits for qualifying individuals who’ve worked in jobs that pay into Social Security.

However, the eligibility criteria for SSI and SSDI are exacting, and proving that you qualify for benefits can be challenging, even when you have a severely disabling condition that prevents employment. Fortunately, there’s help.

At Disability Services of America, the experienced professionals at our SSA-approved Employment Network (EN) gently guide clients through the Social Security disability application and evaluation processes, providing adept guidance and support for each stage of the journey. We’re dedicated to helping disabled individuals nationwide complete their SSI or SSDI applications, prove their disability nature and extent to the SSA, and secure the benefits they deserve. Complete our contact form to request a free initial consultation to discuss your disability claim and discover how we can assist you. 

5 Steps for Proving Disability Nature and Intent to Qualify for SSI or SSDI 

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a grueling, frustrating, and time-consuming task that requires careful planning, extensive documentation, and knowledgeable and experienced support. Taking the following steps and working with the skilled professionals at our SSA-approved Employment Network can help you confidently complete the SSI or SSDI application process and obtain the benefits you need to thrive.

1. How Work History and Income Affect Eligibility for SSI or SSDI Benefits

Work history and income are key factors in determining your eligibility for SSI and SSDI. Here’s what you should know.

  • When applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), your work history is crucial. SSDI is an insurance program for individuals with a qualifying disability and a significant work history. To gain approval for benefits, you must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security long enough to earn sufficient work credits. Though the number of credits needed to qualify varies based on how old you were when you became disabled, SSDI applicants typically need 40 work credits—20 of which were earned 10 years before disability onset.
  • For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), existing resources and income, rather than work history, are the critical deciding factors. This means-tested assistance program is specifically intended for individuals with little to no income and resources. To qualify, disabled individuals must earn less than $1,550 per month (in 2024) and have less than $2,000 in resources, such as vehicles or money in bank accounts. These income and resource limitations may vary for couples and families.

2. Documenting Your Disabling Medical Conditions

Thoroughly documenting your severe medically determinable impairments (MDIs) is essential to proving the nature and extent of your disability and its impact on your daily life and ability to work. This process entails gathering medical records, diagnostic test results, treatment plans, and physician statements that provide evidence of your disability. 

The SSA examiners evaluating your SSI or SSDI claim require objective medical evidence from acceptable medical sources (AMS) to establish the existence of your MDI. According to the SSA, AMS include:

  • Licensed medical or osteopathic doctors
  • Licensed or certified independent or school psychologists
  • Licensed optometrists (for visual disorder impairments or visual acuity and fields measurement)
  • Licensed podiatrists (for impairments of the foot and/or ankle)
  • Qualified speech-language pathologists (for speech and language impairments)
  • Licensed audiologists (for hearing loss, auditory processing disorders, and balance impairments)
  • Licensed advanced practice registered nurses (APRN), sometimes called advanced practice nurses (APN), and advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARPN) (for impairments within their licensed scope of practice)
  • Licensed physician assistants (for impairments within their licensed scope of practice)

3. Providing Evidence of Your Inability to Work With Accommodations 

In addition to establishing the existence of your disabling condition, you must also prove that it prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity, even with reasonable accommodations. This requires providing evidence—such as letters from health care professionals, vocational experts, and employers—showing that your MDI significantly impairs your ability to work, despite attempts to adapt or modify your job duties or work environment. 

Examples of reasonable accommodations for disability in employment include:

  • Flexible work schedules or modified hours
  • Telecommuting or remote work options
  • Adaptive equipment or assistive technology, such as screen readers or ergonomic keyboards
  • Written instructions or training material
  • Additional breaks or rest periods
  • Transportation assistance or parking accommodations
  • Modified training programs that accommodate different learning styles or cognitive impairments

4. Assessing Career Options During and After the Disability Application Process

Living with a severe disability that prevents substantial gainful employment doesn’t necessarily mean you must stop working entirely. 

If you find purpose or meaning in working, Disability Services of America can help you remain in the workforce, explore alternative career paths that might be more accommodating, and provide valuable support and guidance to help you navigate this transition as smoothly as possible. Our SSA-approved EN assists clients who want meaningful and fulfilling employment while protecting their rights to vital SSI and SSDI benefits.

5. Seeking Assistance From an SSA-Approved Employment Network

It can be complex and challenging to navigate the Social Security disability application process to secure vital SSI or SSDI benefits, but you don’t have to do it alone. Our SSA-approved EN can provide valuable assistance, support, and insight at every stage. 

From helping you understand eligibility requirements to guiding you through the SSI or SSDI application and evaluation processes, our experienced professionals offer personalized guidance tailored to your specific needs. 

Founded in 2013, we’ve helped clients with severe disabilities obtain crucial financial support or test their work ability and return to the workforce for more than a decade, earning a reputation as a trusted ally in the pursuit of Social Security disability benefits. We invite you to discover the difference our advocacy can make for your SSI or SSDI claim.

Value of a Skilled Social Security Disability Advocate by Your Side to Your SSI or SSDI Claim

The SSA denies up to 70 percent of applicants in the first stage of its five-stage disability evaluation process. These denials are often preventable, with many resulting from mistakes or omissions in the application paperwork or a lack of sufficient medical evidence from AMS. 

Working with an accomplished disability advocate when preparing your SSI or SSDI application helps ensure it’s completed correctly and includes the appropriate supporting documentation, boosting your chances for approval.

Helping Clients Gain Approval for SSI or SSDI Benefits

Disability Services of America’s dedicated Social Security disability advocates deliver experienced guidance and attentive support to help individuals with severe disabilities obtain SSI or SSDI and protect their benefits. Based in Elmhurst, Illinois, we serve clients nationwide, providing the same exceptional disability application or vocational rehabilitation services whether you’re sitting across the desk or on the other side of the country. 

When you’re counting on essential SSI or SSDI benefits, there’s far too much at stake to go it alone and risk a denial that could delay the support you desperately need. Fortunately, Disability Services of America, a leading SSA-approved Employment Network, provides exceptional assistance for every stage of your disability journey.