SSDI- Unemployment benefits gone, is it time to apply for SSDI?
SSDI and Unemployment benefits
It is not unusual for workers who become disabled to apply for unemployment benefits while they decide whether or not they can continue to work or whether they are unable to work and need to go on full-time disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Recently on our forum we had a disability user ask about their option after they exhausted their unemployment benefits.
How severe is your health condition?
The SSA has a method for determining if you are disabled and unable to work called the Sequential Evaluation Process. The first two questions they will ask are whether you are working and performing substantial gainful activity and whether or not your condition is severe. If you are not working and your condition is severe they will then determine whether your condition and resulting symptoms are on their SSA Listing of Impairments. If it is, the SSA will not consider whether or not you can retrain for new work but will assume that you do not have the residual ability to work.
If you have a severe condition the first step to finding out whether you may be automatically approved for SSDI is to view the SSA Listing of Impairments. If your condition is not on the list then the SSA may determine you cannot work but if you are young and can retrain for new work you will be denied (discussed below).
Can you not work or can you just not find a job?
If you are no longer receiving unemployment benefits and you are considering applying for SSDI there are several considerations before applying for SSDI. First, determine if you really cannot work or if you simply are having a difficult time finding employment.
Consider, when you applied for unemployment you were basically telling the Federal Government that you had the capability to work, in fact you were seeking employment, but you just had not been able to find a job. If you now apply for SSDI benefits you are now telling the Federal Government that you do not have the capability to perform work or what the SSA terms substantial gainful employment.
This may sound like a small issue, but you will not win SSDI benefits if the SSA believes you have the ability to either work your past jobs or retrain for a new type of work. New work can also be work which is less strenuous; work you could do with certain types of physical or mental limitations.
So the first question to ask yourself is whether there is any type of work you think you could do given your age, work history, transferrable work skills and education level. If for instance you used to be a nurse and you know you can no longer do this work, could you retrain for a sedentary job such as a medical data entry worker? If you can think of other jobs you could easily do then you can be sure the SSA can too and they will deny your case.