If you are unable to work due to your disabling long COVID symptoms, you may be wondering if you can apply for disability benefits. If you meet the eligibility requirements for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs, you may be able to receive disability benefits, even if you are not covered by a private or employer-sponsored disability insurance plan.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is a program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability and have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. To be eligible for SSDI, a claimant must have a qualifying disability and a sufficient amount of work credits, which are based on the amount of time they have worked and paid into the Social Security system.
SSDI only provides payment for total and permanent disability. The program does not provide benefits for partial disability or short-term disability. All of the following must be true to qualify for SSDI benefits:
- The claimant cannot work and engage in substantial gainful activity because of their medical condition.
- The claimant cannot do work they did previously or adjust to other work because of their medical condition.
- Your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least 1 year or to result in death.
The number of work credits a claimant needs to be eligible for SSDI depends on their age when they became disabled. The program generally requires a claimant to have accrued 40 credits to be eligible for benefits, with 20 of the credits being earned in the ten years preceding their application for benefits. Younger workers can become eligible with fewer credits. A person can earn up to four credits per year. In 2023, a person will earn one credit for each $1,640 earned that year. Thus, after earning $6,560 in one year, a person has accrued their four credits for the year.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a program that provides financial assistance to individuals who are disabled, blind, or over the age of 65 and have limited income and resources. Unlike SSDI, a claimant does not need to have paid into the Social Security system to be eligible for SSI. Instead, SSI eligibility is based on the claimant’s income and resources. To be eligible for SSI, a claimant’s income must be below a certain limit, and they must have less than $2,000 in assets if they are single or $3,000 if they are married. Income includes any money received from sources such as wages, Social Security, pensions, and veteran’s benefits. Resources include things a claimant owns such as cash, bank accounts, stocks, and land.
Applying for Social Security Benefits
To apply for disability benefits, you will need to complete an application and provide medical evidence of your disability. This can include medical records, doctor’s notes, and diagnostic test results. You should try to provide as much documentation as possible to increase your chances of approval. You can apply for disability benefits online, by phone, or in person at a Social Security office.
If you are not sure if you are eligible for disability benefits, you can contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) for more information. The SSA has trained representatives who can answer your questions and help you determine your eligibility. You can also visit the SSA website or your local SSA office to get more information and to start the application process.
If you are approved for disability benefits, the amount you receive will depend on your past earnings and the type of disability benefits you are receiving (SSDI or SSI). SSDI benefits are based on your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled. The higher your earnings, the higher your SSDI benefit will be. The maximum SSDI benefit amount for 2023 is $3,636. SSI benefits, on the other hand, are based on the federal benefit rate, which is adjusted each year. For 2023, the maximum federal benefit rate for SSI is $914 per month for an individual and $1,371 for a married couple. Disability benefits are typically paid on a monthly basis.