Applying for disability benefits can be a frustrating, uphill battle. The SSA has stringent guidelines dictating who qualifies who doesn’t and they set the basic requirements very high. An experienced Columbus OH disability attorney can help you understand how to qualify for disability benefits, and make sure you avoid mistakes while navigating the process.
What Are the Basic Eligibility Requirements?
How does the SSA make a Social Security disability determination? First, there are three simple requirements claimants must meet:
- You must have worked enough time at jobs covered by SSDI;
- You must have a medical condition that meets the standard of a disability as defined by SSD; and
- Your disability must be expected to last at least one year.
Of course, these need to be unpacked a bit, as each of them have requirements of their own.
How Long Must You Have Worked to Receive SSDI Benefits?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have worked long enough as well as recently enough in a job that meets the SSA’s requirements. So the two questions to answer are:
- What jobs qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
- How long must you have worked those jobs, and how recently?
What Is the Work Credit System?
In 2019, you earn one “work credit” for every $1,360 you earn in either wages or self-employment income. In most cases, an individual applying for SSDI will need at least 40 work credits and at least 20 of those must have been earned within the past ten years. Workers who are younger may not require as many work credits. In addition, there may be special dispensation for those who are blind. A Columbus OH disability attorney can help you examine your earnings and help you determine whether you qualify.
What Jobs Are Not Covered by SSDI?
Some jobs are not covered by SSDI and therefore do not allow you to rack up work credits. Claimants this may affect include federal employees and employees who work for state or municipal governments. Railroad workers are also not covered by SSDI, nor are individuals who are under the age of 21 who work for their parents.
How Does the SSA Define Disability?
The SSA has an entire handbook (the Blue Book) that outlines which conditions qualify for disability benefits. These include medical and psychiatric conditions. However, you may find that those who have conditions that are not included in the handbook do receive SSDI benefits, while those who have conditions that are mentioned in the handbook do not. How is this possible?
Well, if the following conditions are true, you meet the basic requirements for “disability” as defined by the SSA.
- You are no longer able to perform the work you performed before;
- Your medical condition prevents you from adjusting to other types of work; and
- Your medical condition is likely to prevent you from working for at least one year (or until your death).
Short-term or partial disabilities do not qualify for disability benefits. You will be required to provide medical evidence that your disability is substantially serious enough to prevent you from doing your current job or taking on other work which you are qualified to do. It’s meant to be a high bar. At Nesbit Law Office, we know what the SSA is looking for, and can help you learn how to qualify for disability benefits.
How Does the SSA Determine Whether Your Disability Qualifies?
There is a five-step process involved in making this determination:
- Are you currently working? If you are currently working and earning more than $1,220 per month, the SSA will likely find that you are able to work and deny your application. You can, however, appeal this decision.
- Is your condition considered severe? Your condition must be found to severely limit your ability to perform the basic functions of a job for which you are qualified. If this severe limitation prevents you from working for a period of one year or longer, then you will qualify under the SSDI definition of disability.
- Is your condition listed in the Blue Book? The Blue Book lists disabilities that qualify under the SSA’s definition of disability. It helps (but is not absolutely necessary) if your disability is listed.
- Are you able to do work you’ve done before? If the SSA finds that you’re able to do the work you say you can no longer perform, it will seriously impede the collection of benefits.
- Can you do other kinds of work? In cases where you clearly cannot do the same work you’ve done before, the SSA will determine whether or not you can do any work for which you’re qualified.
Compassionate Allowances and Special Circumstances
The SSA uses sophisticated screening software to identify cases that have a high probability of entitling an applicant to SSDI benefits. Additionally, those with terminal illnesses can receive expedited benefits. These include conditions such as Lou Gehrig’s Disease, pancreatic cancer, and end-stage leukemia.
Additionally, those who are blind may qualify for special dispensation or reduced requirements. Those who are the spouses or dependents of disabled workers may also qualify for benefits. Disabled veterans may be able to take advantage of special programs. And lastly, there is help available for individuals with disabled children.
Learn More About How to Qualify for Disability Benefits Today
For more information about how to qualify for disability benefits, contact an experienced Columbus OH Disability Lawyer at Nesbit Law Office today. We can help you determine your eligibility, as well as walk you through the application process.