What to Know Before Applying for Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration doesn’t just provide retirement benefits; Social Security benefits can also help to replace a portion of lost income if you or a loved one becomes significantly disabled. If you are unable to work due to a serious medical condition, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits.
The application process can be arduous and time consuming, so it’s helpful to know if you meet the basic criteria before applying. While the SSA will examine a multitude of evidence when considering an application for disability benefits, there are two main factors that go into an applicant’s determination.
1. The applicant has been diagnosed with a medical condition severe enough that it makes doing past work or adjusting to a new job impossible.
The SSA has specific criteria a severe medical condition must meet in order to count as a disability. Physical or mental diagnoses can qualify as a disability, but they must render you incapable of performing past job duties or adjusting to new work. In addition, the impairment must be expected to last a minimum of one year or end in death.
These benefits are intended for people who are totally disabled, and not for those with short term or partial disabilities. Therefore, the SSA remains strict on their definition of a disability. In fact, the SSA reported 63% of initial applications for SSDI were denied in 2019.
2. The applicant has worked long and recently enough in a job covered by Social Security.
The SSA uses work credits, as well as the age during which you became disabled, to determine if you meet this qualification. Unless you have special circumstances, 40 credits are required to qualify. 20 of those 40 credits must have been earned in the past 10 years. While the amount changes annually, you can currently earn 1 credit for every $1,410 you earn at a maximum of 4 credits per year.
If you think you may meet the criteria for SSDI, or even if you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to meet with an attorney. Our experienced attorneys can assess your circumstances and help with, or even file your application for you. We offer free consultations which can be scheduled by calling (419) 350-8277 or sending us a message.
If you don’t meet this criteria, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income, or “SSI”. This government program provides financial assistance to disabled and low income people of all ages. Our office also assists with these applications, as well as filing appeals if you’ve already been denied benefits.