Making ends meet can be a challenge when you’re out of work for medical reasons. And the stress and strain can make your emotional and physical burden worse. We’ve put the vital information into this Washington DC disability getting started guide. Two federal disability programs run by the Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help you ease your worries:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Applying is simple and fast since the programs use identical eligibility criteria.
The SSDI program is funded by deductions from some employees’ paychecks.
District residents who answer “yes” to all these questions can apply:
- Are you between 18 and 65 and not currently on Social Security? SSDI benefits stop when you reach full retirement age because that’s when you start getting regular Social Security benefits.
- Have you worked full-time for at least 5 of the last 10 years in jobs that withheld Social Security taxes? Your eligibility lapses if you haven’t worked for 60 months because you didn’t pay FICA taxes during that time.
- Have you seen a healthcare provider in the past 3 months about your disability? If not, you can get a Disability Determination Services (DDS) exam to confirm your condition. Good news: A Washington DC disability attorney can pay for your doctor visits and medical records requests when you can’t.
- Does your healthcare provider expect your condition to keep you off the job for at least a year? You aren’t eligible if you return to work within 12 months.
Good news: Even if some of your answers were “no”, you could be eligible for the SSI program.
2. How Does SSDI Pay?
Your Washington DC disability payment is established in a two-step process. First, the SSA estimates your average monthly paycheck over 35 years of work. Then they set your payment at 40% of that amount.
The average 2023 benefit is $1,470 a month; the highest is $3,627. To get more than $3,000 a month, you must have earned $147,000 each year for 10 years before becoming disabled.
Good news: Your payments could go up if Congress OKs a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
3. How Long Does It Take to Get Your First SSDI Payment?
The application takes about 5 months to complete, then another month for the first check to arrive.
Bad news: About 50% of applications don’t get benefits because of basic paperwork errors.
Good news: Working with a Washington DC disability attorney makes you three times more likely to get approved — and you only pay if you receive benefits.
There are two ways to appeal a denial. First, request a reconsideration within 60 days of your rejection. This process can take up to 3.5 months. Then, if the reconsideration isn’t approved, you can ask for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. This can take up to 12 months, though.
Bad news: Only 11% of appeals are successful. And even if you’re approved, you might have to wait almost 2 years for the first payment.
Good news: Hiring a Washington DC disability lawyer increases your chances of a successful appeal. You only pay legal fees if you win.
4. How Long Can I Receive SSDI Payments?
SSI for Washington DC Disability Seekers
SSI disability benefits help Americans who are blind, disabled or over 65 who meet eligibility requirements. Here’s what residents of the District need to know.
WDC residents 65 and older are eligible. Younger Washingtonians must get a DDS exam to establish eligibility.
Good news: A Washington DC disability lawyer can cover your doctor visits and medical records requests if you can’t.
2. What Are the Financial Eligibility Rules for SSI Disability?
- Have a monthly income below $2,460 if you’re blind and $1,470 if you have another disability. Couples must have less than $2,607, combined. Alimony, child support, alimony, SNAP earned interest, TANF, etc., all count towards this amount.
- Own total assets under $2,000 ($3,000 for couples). Cash in your bank accounts and items you could sell, like stocks and bonds, lottery tickets, etc., count toward this total. The car and home you own, daily living items and wedding rings aren’t included.
3. How Much Does SSI Pay to Washington DC Disability Claimants?
Approved people can receive as much as $914 in Washington DC disability benefits; couples can get up to $1,371. These amounts can increase when Congress approves a COLA.
If you’re older than 65, you’re eligible as long as you meet the financial requirements. If you’re younger than 65, benefits continue until age 65 as long as you pass a disability update every 3-7 years.
Washington DC Disability Applicants May Qualify for Legal Assistance
Good news: Working with a Washington DC disability attorney makes you almost 3x more likely to receive benefits. And qualified Social Security lawyers don’t charge if you don’t receive benefits. If your application is approved, then you only pay a small one-time fee.
Why wait? Click below to start your free online benefits evaluation.
Margot Lester is the CEO of The Word Factory, a B2B & B2C content marketing agency that provides services for Fortune 100 brands, healthtech companies and SaaS developers. An award-winning business and brand journalist, she writes for daily and weekly newspapers and business journals, national magazines, in-flight publications and leading websites. Margot is also an in-demand writing coach and organizational communications trainer, helping individuals and teams write more effectively. Twitter/X: @word_factory LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/margotlester.