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Who Qualifies for Disability in Illinois

Who Qualifies for Disability in Illinois?

Disability benefits are designed to provide financial assistance to individuals who are unable to work due to a disability. In the state of Illinois, these benefits are provided through the Social Security Administration (SSA) and the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS). However, not everyone is eligible for disability benefits. In this article, we will explore who qualifies for disability in Illinois and provide answers to some frequently asked questions.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in Illinois, you must meet the following criteria:

1. Work Credits: You must have accumulated enough work credits by paying Social Security taxes. The number of credits required depends on your age at the time of disability. Generally, you need to have worked for at least 5 out of the past 10 years.

2. Medical Eligibility: Your disability must meet the SSA’s definition of “disability.” This means that your condition must prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

3. Age Requirement: There is no specific age requirement for SSDI. However, younger individuals may have a harder time qualifying, as the SSA considers their ability to adjust to other types of work.

Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a needs-based program that provides financial assistance to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. To qualify for SSI in Illinois, you must meet the following criteria:

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1. Medical Eligibility: Your disability must meet the SSA’s definition of “disability,” as mentioned earlier.

2. Income Limit: Your income must be below the federal benefit rate (FBR), which is the maximum monthly amount payable to SSI recipients. In 2021, the FBR for an individual is $794, and for a couple, it is $1,191.

3. Resource Limit: Your resources, including cash, bank accounts, and property, must be below a certain limit. The limit is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple.


Q: How long does the disability application process take?
A: The processing time for a disability application can vary. It generally takes three to five months for an initial decision. If your application is denied, you can request a reconsideration, which may take an additional three to five months. If you still disagree with the decision, you can request a hearing, which can take over a year.

Q: Can I work while receiving disability benefits?
A: Yes, it is possible to work while receiving disability benefits. However, there are income limits known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2021, the SGA limit is $1,310 per month for non-blind individuals and $2,190 for blind individuals. If you earn above these limits, it may affect your eligibility for disability benefits.

Q: What happens if my disability claim is denied?
A: If your disability claim is denied, you have the option to appeal the decision. The appeal process involves several stages, including reconsideration, hearing, and review by the Appeals Council. It is recommended to seek assistance from an experienced disability attorney or advocate to navigate the appeals process effectively.

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Q: Can I apply for disability benefits online?
A: Yes, you can apply for disability benefits online through the SSA’s website. The online application process is convenient and allows you to provide all the necessary information from the comfort of your home. However, if you prefer, you can also apply in person at your local SSA office.

In conclusion, qualifying for disability in Illinois requires meeting specific criteria set by the SSA and the IDHS. The process can be complex, and it is essential to understand the eligibility requirements and seek professional assistance if needed. If you believe you are eligible for disability benefits, it is recommended to start the application process as soon as possible to ensure timely financial assistance.

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