Social Security Disability has different guidelines than other disability programs. You must meet specific criteria to qualify.
To qualify for Social Security Disability, you must have:
- Earned enough wages covered by Social Security
- A medical condition that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a disability
- Been unable to work for at least a year
Those who meet the above criteria usually qualify. However, getting benefits is not always easy. If the SSA denied your claim even though you are eligible, talk to a Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer.
Our SSD lawyers at John Foy & Associates can help with your claim. We do not charge you unless you get paid. To schedule a FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.
Those who qualify will get SSD benefits until they can work again. If their disability is permanent, their benefits may continue indefinitely.
How Does Someone Qualify for Social Security Disability?
You must have enough work credits and meet the definition of disability to qualify.
Here’s what it takes to qualify.
Social Security Work Credits
When you earn wages, your employer takes a portion to go towards Social Security taxes. You must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security to qualify for benefits.
Each year, you can earn up to four work credits. You need to make a certain amount of money per work credit (which was $1,410 in 2020). The amount can be from wages or self-employment income.
Most adults need at least 40 work credits to qualify for SSD benefits. You must have earned 20 of those credits in the ten years before becoming disabled. Younger workers will require fewer credits. The SSA’s How You Earn Credits page covers the number of credits needed per age group.
Qualifying as Disabled
Social Security has a specific definition of a disability. You only qualify if you have a total disability. That means:
- You have been disabled (or are expected to be disabled) for at least a year.
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- You cannot adjust to other forms of work.
You cannot get short-term or partial disability benefits through SSD. The SSA must determine that you fit their definition of disabled. The program assumes that working families will have access to other disability resources.
You will need to provide solid proof of your disability. The SSA will look for your condition on their Listing of Impairments. The list contains conditions that they recognize as disabling.
If you do not have a condition on the list, the SSA will see if it compares to a listed condition.
The SSA will ask the following questions to see if you have a total disability:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- If your condition found on their list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do the work you did previously?
- Can you do any other type of work?
Some people qualify for a faster approval process. Certain cases qualify for Compassionate Allowances. These conditions are severe enough to qualify just with a diagnosis. The SSA will only need to confirm that you have the disease in order for you to qualify.
The SSA also uses Quick Disability Determinations. This process uses computer screening to find cases for which approval is highly likely. A quick determination can get someone with a severe condition benefits sooner.
How Can You Know if You Qualify for Social Security Disability?
Each person must complete an application to apply for benefits. You can do this by:
- Applying online
- Calling the SSA
- Visiting a local Social Security office
You will need to provide proof of your medical condition. You’ll also need to show that you cannot work and have earned enough work credits.
You should also apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled. You cannot receive benefits until your sixth full month of disability. It’s best to get started immediately so that you do not have to wait too long.
What to Provide in Your Application
When you apply for disability benefits, the SSA will ask for information like:
- Your name, Social Security number, and gender
- Your date and place of birth
- Whether or not you are married
- Your spouse’s name, Social Security number, and birthdate
- Names, Social Security numbers, and birthdates of any former spouses
- Your marriage date(s) and when any marriages ended
- Whether or not you earned money in the years since 1978
- Information about your employers and what you made for this and last year
- The date you became unable to work because of your condition
You will also need to provide documentation for your claim. For example, you’ll need your birth certificate, last year’s tax returns, and medical records.
It’s best to consult with a Social Security Disability lawyer first. Your lawyer can ensure that you have everything you need.
What if the SSA Denies Your Claim?
Unfortunately, many applicants get a denial — even if they qualify. Most people get denied on the first try. Since the system is so strict, many fall through the cracks.
If the SSA denies your claim, but you know you qualify, talk to a lawyer. An experienced attorney can help you:
- Evaluate why the SSA denied your benefits
- Determine what needs to change on your claim
- Make the necessary changes
- File an appeal for benefits
Don’t give up on your claim without speaking to a lawyer. A denial does not necessarily mean you don’t qualify. You might just need a professional’s eye on your application.
Talk to a Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free Today
The Social Security Disability process is long and stressful. You don’t have to handle it alone. A Social Security Disability lawyer can help.
John Foy & Associates has been assisting disabled individuals for over 20 years. We know what the SSA looks for to approve a claim. Also, we do not charge a fee unless we win for you.
You can get started today at no risk. To get started with a FREE consultation, call (404) 400-4000 or contact us online.