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Social Security Disability Evaluation Form

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits – Important Info You Need to Know

If you are disabled to the point where you cannot maintain employment, then you should consider applying for disability benefits through programs administered by the Social Security Administration. For example, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To be eligible for benefits, you need to meet the following requirements:

  1. Have an “eligible” disability or medical condition to qualify for benefits;
  2. Your disability prevents you from generating enough income for a year or longer;
  3. The job, or jobs, you worked need to have paid into the Social Security fund and the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) tax; and
  4. Your medical condition or disability is determined to be an “eligible” disability in accordance with the Social Security Administration’s BlueBook.

Work History Needed to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you need to have generated a sufficient amount of work credits. You may be asking yourself, “what exactly is a work credit?” Well, a work credit are what you earn through your years of employment. Basically, the amount of time you work will be translated into a specific number of work credits.

According to SSA.gov, an individual typically receives one work credit for every $1,410.00. In addition, there is a cap of four credits per work year.

How Work Credits Impact Eligibility for Disability Benefits

The work credits you need to be eligible for Social Security disability payments depend primarily on your age and when you became disabled. For example, if your disability developed between the ages of 31 and 42, then you will need 20 work credits to be eligible for disability benefits. The number of work credits needed will increase from there until you reach the age of 62 or older. At that point, you will need 40 work credits to qualify for disability benefits.

How the SSA Assesses Whether You are Disabled and Eligible for Benefits

As mentioned, disability benefits are only paid out to individuals who have an eligible disability that prevents them from working for at least one year. As a result, someone with a short-term or partial disability typically will not qualify for disability benefits.

As a general rule, you may qualify for disability benefits if you meet the following requirements:

  • Your disability falls within the qualifying medical conditions, in accordance with the SSA’s BlueBook;
  • You are unable to perform your daily work as a proximate result of your disability;
  • You are unable to learn a new skill or perform another type of work due to your disability; and
  • Your disability is expected to last for one year or longer.

When determining if you qualify for SSDI benefit, here are some other factors that the SSA will take into consideration:

  • If you earn in excess of $1,260 per month, then you would typically not qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
  • In order to qualify for disability benefits through Social Security, then you need to supply evidence that substantiates the fact that your medical condition severely limits your ability to perform basic work functions such as standing, walking, lifting, and/or sitting for at least one full year.
  • Factors to consider when determining if you can do other kinds of work with your medical condition include your age, education, prior working experiences, and any skills you have acquired that may be useful for other positions.
  • Social Security has a list of medical conditions that are generally considered to be disabling to the point of preventing an applicant from completing “substantial gainful activity.” As a general rule, if your disability is not on this list, there is a good chance that the SSA will determine your disability is not severe enough to warrant approval of benefits.

Special Circumstances That May Be Considered by the SSA

There are unique, “special circumstances” that the SSA will consider when reviewing a disability benefits application:

  • An applicant who is blind or who has an extremely poor vision;
  • Widow or widower of a disabled worker;
  • Disabled child; and/or
  • An injured veteran

How Disability Payments are Distributed

Disability benefits are typically distributed until you are able to join the workforce. Special rules called “work incentives,” provide benefits and health care coverage for those who need help making the transition to work. For someone who is still receiving Social Security disability payments upon reaching full retirement age, the disability benefits would automatically convert to retirement benefits. This means the monthly payment amounts would remain the same.

What To Do If Your Disability Benefits Claim was Denied

If your application for disability benefits was denied, it is important not to throw your hands up in despair. In fact, important to know that more than 60 percent of disability benefit claims are denied in the first round of the application process.

In addition to not giving up hope, you should also remember that you have rights and legal options to contest the denial of your application. However, it is important to take a step back and re-assess your application to see if there were any issues or red flags that may have led the SSA to deny your disability benefits application. For example, to be eligible for disability benefits,  you need to have at least 40 work credits if you are age 31 or young and 20 of those credits must have been earned in the last five years. If you are over the age of 31, the number of work credits decreases. 

Another factor to consider when assessing your application denial is whether your disability actually prevented you from working for at least 12 months. This means if your disability will only prevent you from working for less than 12 months, then your disability benefits application will be denied.

Options Available After a Denial of Your Disability Benefits Application

If your disability benefits application was denied, it is important to understand that you typically have the right to file an appeal contesting the denial. While the process of appealing the denial can be challenging, your chances of actually receiving disability benefits actually increase when a formal appeal is filed.

How a Social Security Attorney Can Help

If you are having difficulty with the disability benefits application process or received a denial, It may be in your best interest to speak with an experienced Social Security Disability Lawyer. Retaining the services of an experienced disability benefits attorney can pay major dividends. For example, a disability benefits lawyer can assist in strengthening your claim with the SSA and strengthen your basis for pursuing disability benefits.

Take Action by Contacting NextLegal

If you are interested in applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration, it is important to ensure you complete all the necessary paperwork and have the requisite medical and financial records to substantiate your benefits application. This is where NextLegal can help. We are ready and able to assist you with your social security disability case and can offer insight and advice on what steps need to be taken during the application process. Complete the contact form to schedule a free confidential consultation.

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