Social Security Disability Benefits

August 14, 2013 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

Sometimes life can throw you a curveball when you least expect it.  That curveball can take many different forms: a car accident, a diving accident, a stroke, complications from cancer, just to name a few.  While that curveball can take many forms, it can almost always be a life-changing event. Life-changing is the operative word in that sentence and it implies that you may need to find new ways to do a lot of things. One of those things is to have an income. If your condition makes you unable to hold a competitive job, then you might want to apply for  Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits.

Medical Requirements

To qualify for SSD benefits, applicants must first meet one very basic requirement—the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability. This is as follows:

  • Your disability keeps you from working any job.
  • Your disability is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

It is important to note that there are differences when applying for a person under 18 and a person over 18.

If you meet these criteria, you will then be evaluated based on criteria listed in the SSA’s blue book. The blue book is a manual of potentially disabling conditions and specific medical requirements and can be found at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/.

It is important to note that the blue book doesn’t list all medical conditions. For many applicants, this means that meeting a listing is not possible (“meeting” implies that you have a medical condition listed explicitly in the blue book and that you experience each of the qualifying symptoms). If you don’t meet a listing, you may still be able to qualify if your symptoms closely mimic the symptoms and criteria under a different disease or condition.

If your condition does not meet or match any blue book listings, you may still be able to qualify under something called a Medical Vocational Allowance. Essentially, this means that based on your skill level, age, and job training, the SSA has determined that you aren’t capable of working.

Prior to submitting your application, you will need to gather medical records and documentation that pertain to your disabling condition(s). These records are required by the SSA—without them your claim may be delayed or even denied.

Disability Programs

Your eligibility for SSD benefits will also be based on technical criteria. These criteria are based on things like work history, income, financial resources, and taxes. The two disability benefit programs—SSDI and SSI—each have their own set of technical requirements.

SSDI- Social Security Disability Insurance is offered to disabled workers and their dependent family members. Eligibility for SSDI is based on “work credits”—a measure of an applicant’s earned income and the taxes they’ve paid into the program. Each applicant must have a specific amount of work credits to qualify.

SSI- Supplemental Security Income is offered to disabled and elderly individuals who have access to very little income and financial resources. This is a needs-based program, meaning that eligibility and benefit amount are determined by a person’s specific financial needs.

Social Security Disability Application Process

To begin your application, fill out the necessary forms online or at your local Social Security office. Once you submit your application you may have to wait a long time to receive a decision.

While it can be difficult to wait for a necessary financial lifeline, it is important that you remain patient.  Although not all applicants are denied in the initial application stage, you should be prepared to face this possibility. If you are, in fact, denied, you have the option to appeal the decision; this must be done within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. Responding quickly and efficiently throughout the entire process will speed up your wait for a decision.

Although applying for SSD is not easy, there are organizations that can help you with this process.

By Molly Clarke Social Security Disability Help.

 

 

 

 

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