Consider the following factors to help you determine if you may be eligible for SSD benefits:
- Are you currently engaged in substantial gainful activity? To qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, you must be unable to work because of a disabling condition. If you earn more than a set amount ($1,070 as of 2014, or $1,800 if you are blind), then you are considered to be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
- Do you have a medical condition that has lasted for a year or that is likely to last a year? The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits only to the long-term disabled. If your condition is not going to persist for a year, you may not be entitled to benefits. An exception exists if your health problem is likely to result in death.
- Is your condition listed in the Blue Book? The SSA has a Listing of Impairments, which is commonly called the Blue Book. A variety of health problems affecting both adults and children are listed in the Blue Book. To qualify for SSD benefits, you must either prove that you have a listed condition or you must demonstrate that your health issues are medically equivalent to those found on the list.
- Do you have the required symptoms? For each condition that is listed in the Blue Book, the SSA also specifies what symptoms must accompany it. For example, the SSA details the frequency and severity of seizures a person with epilepsy must have. You’ll need medical proof that you have the required symptoms for your disabling condition.
- Are you able to work at any job that you are qualified for or that you have held in the past? The SSA may consider your educational and work history to determine if you have transferable skills. If you have the ability to do some work with your disabling condition, the SSA may deny your benefits claim.
In addition to proving you are severely disabled, you also have to meet basic eligibility criteria. There are two Social Security programs available to provide benefits to people who cannot work due to health issues.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a means-tested program. SSI requires you to have limited family resources and low or no income. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is not means-tested. SSDI is paid for with payroll taxes. You may qualify for SSDI regardless of your financial situation, provided you have earned a set number of work credits based on your age.
Both SSI and SSDI usethe same definition of “disabled” and are available only to individuals with long-term impairments.
How Can a Lawyer Help with My SSD Claim?
It is up to you to provide solid proof to the SSA that you are entitled to disability benefits. An attorney can help you put together strong evidence and a solid application so you have the best chance of getting the benefits you deserve.