Social Security Disability benefits were created as insurance for people who can’t work because of a medical condition. However, the process is more complicated than it sounds. If you submit an application for Social Security Disability (SSD), you’ll need to understand what reviewers of your application are looking for to confirm you qualify and approve you for benefits.
Qualifications for Social Security Disability in Georgia
All applications go through the Social Security Administration (SSA). To qualify for SSD benefits, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Worked in a job that paid into Social Security taxes for a certain length of time
- Have a medical condition that the SSA considers a disability
- Unable to work because of that medical condition, which is expected to last 12 months or more
You must have a certain number of “work credits” to qualify for the work portion of SSD. For most people, the minimum work credits are 40 overall with 20 being earned within the last 10 years before you became disabled. If you are a younger worker, you may be able to qualify with fewer credits.
The way credits are earned has changed throughout the years, but currently, you can earn up to four credits per year if you’re working and paying Social Security taxes.
In 2019, you must make $1,360 for one credit and $5,440 to get the maximum four credits in a year. This varies slightly per year. If you’ve worked much at all in your lifetime, chances are you’ve earned enough credits to meet the minimum for benefits.
If you don’t have enough work credits, you probably won’t qualify for benefits. However, you can earn more if you return to work at any time. Your work credits stay on your record.
Getting Approved If You Qualify
Although the qualifications sound pretty simple, actually getting approved is another story. When you submit your application, the SSA uses a specific determination process when going over your file.
For example, your medical condition must be severe enough to meet the SSA’s disability criteria. The SSA has a Listing of Impairments with conditions that may qualify. The condition must greatly limit you from being able to perform even basic work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, standing, lifting, and remembering, for at least a year.
Your condition must also prevent you from performing what’s known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). SGA basically means work in which you make more than a certain amount each month. The exact amount changes each year. The amount for 2019 is $1,220 for non-blind applicants and $2,040 for blind applicants. This does not include income you might be receiving from sources other than employment, such as investments or interest.
If you’re making more than what counts as SGA each month, the SSA will not consider you disabled. Otherwise, they’ll determine whether you’re able to perform the work of your last job or jobs you had in the last 15 years. If the answer is no, the SSA will see if you can still perform other types of work. They’ll also consider facts about you like your education level, age, skills you’ve learned, and all limitations you have.
You also cannot apply for benefits if you were already denied disability benefits within the last 60 days or you are currently receiving benefits on your Social Security record.
Can Disabled Spouses Receive Benefits?
If a worker who paid into Social Security dies, their widower, widow, or divorced spouse may qualify for the worker’s benefits if they are disabled. They’ll need to meet the following criteria:
- Between the ages of 50 and 60
- Became disabled before or within seven years of the worker’s death
- Has a condition that meets the SSA definition of disability
How Do I Know if My Medical Condition Qualifies?
The Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments provides criteria for approval with different medical conditions. The listed impairments are divided into 14 sections, each with information on how the SSA defines and evaluates the conditions.
Your doctor will need to be familiar with the criteria for your condition if they are submitting statements on your behalf for your application. Be sure your doctor understands how your medical condition prevents you from working and impairs other areas of your life so they can detail that in their records.
You do not necessarily have to have one of the conditions listed to qualify for benefits. However, if your medical condition is not on the SSA list, they will determine if it’s as severe as another condition on the list.
Need Help with Your Georgia Social Security Disability Application?
Many Social Security Disability applicants get their first application (or more) denied. At John Foy & Associates, our Social Security Disability lawyers can help you strengthen your application and/or appeal a denial. We can also help you determine if you qualify and make sure your application continues all of the required information.
Don’t consider a denied application to be the end of the road. You have options. For a FREE consultation to go over your application, call us today at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form on this page to get started today.