Unfortunately, very few people understand what the requirements for social security disability are and just how complicated the approval process can be.
What is Disability?
The Social Security administration considers someone disabled if:
- you cannot do work that you did before
- you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s)
- your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death
How Do You Qualify?
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits is dependent upon a number of very strict and varied criteria. You don’t get disability benefits simply because you don’t “feel well” or because you broke your leg and can’t work for a couple of months. Whether or not you qualify depends upon your medical condition, your income and your past work history. Let’s look at each of them independently.
Your Medical Condition
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions that they consider to be so severe that they will automatically fulfill the requirements for social security disability. The list is broken down into two parts. The first is for people over the age of eighteen and the second is for people age seventeen and younger. Each of those lists is broken down by body function or area and are extensive.
If you don’t find your specific medical condition on the list, do not panic. It simply means that you are going to have to do some more work to prove that your physical condition is severely impacted and is equal to or greater than severity as one of the conditions on the list.
In order to make this determination, you will need to provide a list of all of your illnesses, impairments, conditions and symptoms. You’ll also need to provide proof of medical attention—keep a list of every doctor’s appointment, clinic checkup and ER visit. In addition to these lists, you will need to provide proof that the doctors who examined you were qualified and familiar with both your conditions and the criteria for determining Disability Benefits. If you are located in Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Lafayette, or surrounding cities in Louisiana you can find out if your medical condition is covered today.
Your Current Income
Simply being very sick or dealing with physical limitations is not enough to qualify you for Disability Benefits. You need to be able to prove that your current medical state keeps you from doing your job. Things can get tricky here, because many employers are required, by law, to make accommodations for people who suffer from disabilities. If your employer isn’t making those accommodations, then you might have a case in civil court (talk to a lawyer first). If your employer is trying to accommodate your limitations you need to prove that, even with those accommodations, you cannot perform your work at a passable level.
If you are continuing to work, you need to be able to prove that you are earning less than the state considers a livable wage. In most states, for seeing people, the cap limit for this income is $1070 and $1800 for blind people. If you are earning more than that, you are not going to qualify for disability.
Your Ability to Work
If you are not currently employed, the Social Security Administration is going to evaluate your current condition to determine if it would keep you from doing your last job or jobs at your current level. In this instance “level” means level of experience, education, skill set and age. They can compare your current condition to jobs you’ve held over the last decade and a half.
It is important to understand that the Social Security Administration does not care about your field of expertise. Someone who graduated with an MBA, for example, is capable of doing secretarial work unless their disability prevents them from sitting for prolonged periods of time or their eyesight is impaired and keeps them from reading computer screens.
Your Work History
Every year that you work and earn a paycheck, you are paying into the Social Security system. This is one of the requirements for social security disability benefits. In addition to paying into the Social Security System, you earn “points” for every year you work. The number of points you earn each year varies but the average is typically four. You must have accumulated enough points on your record to qualify for Disability Benefits. The number of points you must have accumulated is going to depend upon your age and the year you started working. It can range from 28-40, depending on your individual criteria.
These are the major types of criteria you must meet in order to qualify for Social Security Benefits. It is important to understand, though, that even if you meet every last one of these requirements for social security disability benefits, your first application might still be denied. This is why it is important to not try to DiY the system. Work with someone who has professional experience with Social Security Disability Benefits and who understands how your local system is set up. In addition to helping you navigate the system, this person will provide much needed moral support—something you will definitely appreciate as you work on your application and gathering your materials.
If you don’t find the answers to your questions, you can contact us for a free consultation to find out what you qualify for.
If you don’t find the answers to your questions or if you would like addition information, contact us at 888-468-3741, send a message.