When you’re injured or contract an illness that results in you being unable to hold down gainful employment, the government offers social security benefits for you to have some recourse. These benefits allow you to continue to maintain some control over your life while you struggle to recover from your injury and get back on your feet. First, however, you have to be able to demonstrate eligibility for these benefits. Learn how eligibility for social security disability is determined, and how to tell if your injury qualifies you to receive benefits.
The first step is to understand what the SSA defines as being disabled. SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) only pays out for total disability, not short-term or partial disability. This means that you are unable to work, either in your prior job or adjusting to new employment, and your disability will last for at least a year or could result in your death.
Social Security Disability and Work
In order to qualify for SSDI, you need to have been working recently and for a long enough term to qualify. You earn credits on your total yearly wages as you pay into social security insurance, up to four per year.
The amount you need to pay in—to earn credits—changes every year. In 2016 one credit is earned for each $1,260 you earn. In general, to qualify you need a total of 40 credits, half of which were earned in the past 10 years. Exceptions can be made for younger workers.
There are five factors involved in determining whether or not you are disabled by the definition of the SSA. These factors are:
- Current Employment: If you are currently working and earning more than $1,130 per month, you usually aren’t eligible for SSDI.
- Condition Severity: Your disability must interfere with your basic ability to hold down employment.
- “Approved” Disabilities: The SSA maintains a list of conditions that meet the definition of disability.
- Ability to Continue Prior Work: If it is determined that you are able to adjust and continue your prior line of work, you may not be considered disabled.
- Ability to Do Other Work: Likewise, if you can adapt to a new line of work, you may not be considered disabled.
Appealing a Denial to Eligibility for Social Security Disability
Many people are denied coverage the first time they apply. When this happens, you can appeal the decision, but you need representation by a qualified attorney to help make sure you cover all your bases. A qualified SSI attorney can help you make sure that you get the federal disability benefits you deserve so that you can regain control and some measure of enjoyment of your life.