When you become unable to work, you may qualify to receive Social Security Disability Insurance. This federal program assists people coping with an inability to return to work because of an injury or illness.
In order to qualify for SSD, you must prove that:
- You suffer from a condition that causes you to be unable to work.
- That condition is expected to last at least a year, or result in your death, and
- You have paid sufficient money into the social security system to be eligible.
Supplemental Security Income
People who are disabled or blind, meet specified income requirements, live in certain living arrangements, and fulfill other criteria may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Unlike SSD, SSI is needs based. Even if you have not worked in a long time, you may qualify for these benefits if you are unable to work due to your medical conditions.
Like any program for government aid, to qualify for social security disability, you must meet a vast number of specific requirements. These requirements are subject to varying interpretations. Our firm will work hard to prove that your disability is covered.
The Social Security Administration utilizes a process known as the sequential evaluation process, in order to determine whether you are disabled by the required standards. Under this process, there are five questions:
1. Are you working? If you are working more than a minimal amount, as defined in the regulations, the Administration will not consider your application for benefits. If you are not, the evaluation proceeds to Step 2.
2. Is your condition severe? Your medical condition must be serious enough to interfere with work activities. If it is not that severe, the process stops at this point and you are not entitled to benefits. If it is, the evaluation proceeds to Step 3.
3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? There are some medical conditions, described in the regulations, which under some circumstances can be so severe that they automatically qualify you for benefits. If your condition does meet the criteria, you are found disabled at this point in the evaluation, and you may be entitled to benefits. If your condition does not “meet or equal a listing”, the evaluation process goes on to the next step.
4. Can you do the work you did previously? The administration determines if your limitations keep you from doing any of the work you have done in the past 15 years. If you cannot, you are found disabled at this point. If you can, the process proceeds to the next and final step.
5. Can you do any other type of work? At this stage, the Administration evaluates whether you can adjust or be retrained for work other than what you did in the past, considering your age, education and other factors.
Legal questions arise at each of these steps, and have resulted in varying legal interpretations. You need a lawyer experienced in this law to help present your best arguments. To find out if your medical condition may qualify you for benefits under Social Security, contact our firm for a free consultation.
A disabling condition can be devastating both financially and emotionally, and the rules and application process can be complicated and confusing. Please contact one of our attorneys to discuss your social security disability case. We can guide you through the process and provide you with the experienced and responsive representation that you need to obtain the benefits to which you and your family are entitled.