Nebraska Disability Benefits: What First-Time Applicants Must Know

Nebraska disability benefits

Nearly two million people live in Nebraska, and 18.6% of the population is currently aged 50-64. That means almost 1 in 5 Nebraskans are the prime age to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits! However, the most recent Social Security Administration report shows just 2.1% received SSDI benefits in December 2018. Another 1.3% with mental or physical disabilities received federal Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments each month. If health problems force you to stop working for at least 12 months, then you may qualify for Nebraska disability.



Which Federal Government Programs Provide Monthly Nebraska Disability Benefits?

You may qualify for monthly cash payments from one of two different federal disability programs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) manages both programs and uses the same medical screening questions for all applicants. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Both these programs offer Nebraska disability benefits to claimants that qualify:

  1. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
  2. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)

Not sure where to start? You can apply for both benefit programs at the same time using just one form. Simply check the box next to each program’s name on your application, and the SSA screens you for both.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Applying, Qualifying & Average Monthly Payments

Before you start the Nebraska disability application process, it’s helpful to know how these programs work. You don’t want to waste time filing a claim if you cannot meet the program’s key eligibility requirements. Read the questions below to ensure the SSA won’t automatically reject your SSDI benefits claim before you apply. On average, the government approved 49% of SSDI claims for Nebraska disability benefits in 2018.

1. Who’s Eligible to Apply for SSDI?

Below are the SSDI program’s basic eligibility requirements to qualify for Nebraska disability benefits:

  • Did you pay Social Security taxes while working full-time for 5 in the last 10 years? This is the first step towards SSDI claim approval. Here’s why: SSDI is a federal disability insurance program that covers workers who pay each month’s premium to maintain coverage. Your FICA or Social Security taxes from each paycheck keep that policy active. Once you stop working for 60 months, that coverage automatically lapses.
  • Does your doctor expect your condition to keep you from working at least one year? If not, do you have a terminal illness? The SSDI program only pays Nebraska disability benefits for long-term or permanent disabilities. In other words, SSDI won’t cover things like pregnancy leave or surgery. If your symptoms improve in less than 12 months, you won’t qualify for SSDI.
  • Have you seen a doctor to treat your condition within the last 90 days? If not, you’ll need to attend a Disability Determination Services (DDS) exam after you apply. The SSA requires this exam to confirm your condition truly makes you unable to work. In other words, saying you’re disabled isn’t enough to qualify for Nebraska disability benefits. You must prove it!
  • Are you at least 18, but younger than full retirement age and not currently receiving any Social Security benefits? SSDI gives Americans too young for Social Security retirement a way to tap into those benefits. Once you reach full retirement age, Nebraska disability benefits automatically convert into regular Social Security. This article explains why you cannot draw both payments at once (it’s considered double-dipping and illegal under federal law).

Don’t meet all these requirements? The SSI program’s Nebraska disability benefits may still be available to you.

2. How Long Does That First SSDI Payment Take to Arrive?

Six months from your SSDI application date is likely the soonest you’ll get your first Nebraska disability payment. Federal law requires a mandatory five-month waiting period before the SSDI program can make any Nebraska disability payments. However, if your condition started before you filed your application, that time counts toward your mandatory wait! Unfortunately, most people wait more than a year, at minimum, for their first Nebraska disability payment. Having a lawyer file your claim doubles your approval chances the first time you apply. Plus, an attorney cannot charge you anything for help until after you’re approved for Nebraska disability benefits. As of June 2019, SSDI applications for Nebraska disability benefits take 444 days to process, on average.

If you decide to apply on your own without a lawyer, you’ll probably have to appeal. That’s because the SSA currently rejects 4 in every 5 first-time Nebraska disability applicants. If that happens, you have 60 days to appeal your denial. Reconsideration is your first step in the appeals process, which takes about 100 days (on average). Only 2% of claimants receive Nebraska disability benefits at the reconsideration stage. If denied a second time, you can always appeal again. The second appeal involves pleading your case to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). However, you’ll have to wait 11 months for your appeals court date to arrive. A court award means you’ll wait two years from your SSDI application date for your first Nebraska disability payment.

3. How Much SSDI Money Can I Expect Each Month?

Starting January 1, 2020, the maximum Nebraska disability payment the SSDI program can pay anyone is $3,011/month. To qualify for that amount, you’ll need to earn a six-figure salary for at least 10 years before becoming disabled. Nationwide, disabled workers currently get an average $1,258 monthly SSDI payment. Once approved, SSDI may also provide an annual cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) increase announced each October.

4. Are the SSDI Program’s Nebraska Disability Payments Permanent?

Nebraska disability benefits from the federal SSDI program last for 3, 5 or 7 years after your initial approval. Every few years after that, you’ll need to re-confirm you’re still unable to work due to health problems. Whenever this happens, you’ll get a letter from the SSA in your mailbox. Then, just fill the form out and return it back to the SSA before your mailing deadline. This will carry on until you reach your full retirement age (FRA). Once your FRA passes, your Nebraska disability payments automatically convert into regular Social Security retirement. Your benefit amount won’t change, and you don’t need to file any additional paperwork. But if the SSA decides you’re no longer disabled, your SSDI payments stop immediately.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Applying, Qualifying & Average Monthly Payments

If you can’t meet all SSDI requirements, you may still qualify for Nebraska disability through the federal SSI program. SSI pays eligible blind, disabled or older Americans aged 65 and up cash benefits every month. To qualify for the SSI program’s Nebraska disability benefits, you need very low income and almost no financial resources. Below, we’ll explain the SSI program’s eligibility requirements, monthly pay amounts and more. On average, the SSI program approved about 49% of all claims filed for Nebraska disability benefits in 2018.

1. SSI Applicants Must Be Blind, Disabled or Age 65+ to Qualify for Benefits

If you file your SSI claim after your 65th birthday, your age alone may qualify you for monthly benefits. Younger applicants must currently be blind or disabled in order to qualify for Nebraska disability payments. This means submitting convincing medical evidence that supports your SSI claim for Nebraska disability benefits. Often, Nebraska disability applicants must appear for a DDS medical exam that confirms they’re unable to work due to disability.

2. You Need Very Low Income and Few Assets to Get Your SSI Claim Approved

The SSI program screens every Nebraska disability applicant for monthly income and asset limit rules. First, your monthly income must fall below $1,260 from all possible sources combined. This means things like your spouse’s paycheck, child support payments or alimony will count towards that income threshold. You must also have less than $2,000 in your bank account. The SSI program looks for other things you can easily sell for cash, including jewelry, stocks, bonds, etc. SSI calls these items “countable assets,” and if you own too much stuff, you cannot qualify for Nebraska disability benefits. Things the SSA won’t consider as countable assets may include:

  • Your home and the lot it’s built on (homeowners only, not renters)
  • One vehicle (car, truck, motorcycle, boat) for household transportation
  • Wedding ring, furniture, clothing & other daily living needs (appliances, bedding, towels)

Married couples filing SSI claims need less than $3,000 in assets and $1,260 in combined monthly income to qualify.

3. SSI-Based Nebraska Disability Pays No More Than $783/Person, or $1,175/Couple

While that doesn’t sound like much, every little bit counts when you’re unable to work. Luckily, any years with an approved Cost-of-Living-Adjustment (COLA) increase provide monthly raises for SSI beneficiaries. If you’re getting Nebraska disability each month through the SSI program, you must still pass regular status updates. In other words, every 3-7 years the SSI program must confirm you’re still too disabled to work. These SSI disability updates continue until you reach your 65th birthday. Once that birthday passes, you can keep your monthly SSI payments provided you meet the program’s financial eligibility requirements.

Do Any Programs Pay Temporary or Short-Term Nebraska Disability Benefits?

The only way to get short-term or temporary Nebraska disability benefits is through private insurance or employer-provided plans. If you don’t currently own either policy, it’s too late to apply after you become disabled.

You May Qualify for Legal Assistance

You’re 2x more likely to get approved for benefits if a Nebraska disability lawyer files your application. A qualified Social Security attorney will give you a free, no-obligation consultation before you decide to move forward. Federal law forbids any Nebraska disability lawyer from charging you until you’re already approved for benefits. That’s because all Nebraska disability lawyers work on contingency. If no federal program awards you benefits, you owe that lawyer $0. And if your case wins, you’ll only pay a small, one-time fee.

Ready to see if you may qualify? Click the button below to start your free online benefits evaluation now!

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