Does My Disability Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
When you’re dealing with a long-term illness or disability that prevents you from working, Social Security Disability Insurance can help you significantly: SSDI benefits can allow you to pay your bills and free you from endless financial worries.
Social Security Disability is a type of insurance that you earn by working. (You contributed to this program through your payroll taxes.) You can apply for SSDI benefits if you can no longer work because of a disability.
Note: Social Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two different things. Learn about the differences by reading Are SSI and SSDI the Same Thing?
It’s important to note that, in order to receive SSDI benefits, you must have a qualifying disability. What does this mean? In this post, we’ll talk about what kinds of disabilities qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance.
Do You Meet the Basic Criteria?
As a government program, SSDI has quite a few rules and regulations regarding who qualifies for disability benefits. In order to receive benefits, all three of the following rules must apply in your situation:
You have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment. This means that your impairment can be recognized and described by a physician.
Your physical/mental impairment prevents you from doing what the government calls “substantial gainful work.” This means that your disability prevents you from continuing in your previous job and would also prevent you from performing any job that pays $1,170 per month. Even if you cannot continue at your previous job, if you are still able to work in a less physically or mentally demanding job that pays the aforementioned amount, your claim will not be approved.
The impairment is expected to last at least 12 months or is terminal. This means that your doctors expect your disability to continue and to prevent you from working for 12 months or longer. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to wait 12 months before applying. It also doesn’t mean that you have to give back your benefits if you recover sooner than expected. You can keep what SSDI benefits you received as long as your claim was legitimate.
Is Your Condition Included in the List of Impairments?
The Social Security Administration has a list of impairments, called the blue book, that are considered severe enough to qualify for benefits. If you match the conditions for the impairment, your SSDI claim will likely be approved. The impairments listed include both physical and mental conditions. Some physical impairments listed are vision loss, heart failure, various cancers, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and back injuries; some mental impairments listed are depression, schizophrenia, and personality disorders.
If your illness or injury does not meet the requirements listed in the blue book, you may still be able to get SSDI benefits if the Social Security Administration finds that your condition is “medically equivalent.” If you have an illness or injury that isn’t listed in the blue book, you may also still have a successful claim—as long as your condition is medically determinable and prevents you from working.
If your condition doesn’t exactly match what’s in the blue book, the SSA will do two things: evaluate your residual functional capacity (RFC) and perform a medical-vocational analysis.
When the SSA evaluates your RFC, they review your medical condition and your relevant work history to determine the type and amount of work you can do.
After the RFC is developed, your claim moves on to the medical-vocational analysis. This analysis looks at your medical condition and determines if you can do your previous job or learn to do a different job. This depends on your RFC, work history, education or job training completed, transferability of your skill set, and even your age. For example, if you have less education or a highly specific and non-transferable skill set, it’s more likely that you will be deemed disabled. Similarly, if you are older, it’s more likely that you will be considered disabled (the Social Security Administration acknowledges that it is often more difficult for older workers to change careers).
Using the factors above, the Social Security Administration will decide whether or not you can be considered disabled and receive benefits.
When you are dealing with a long-term illness or disability, the prospect of going through a complex court case can seem overwhelming. You don’t want to be one of the many cases in which the first-time application is denied due to a simple paperwork error or lack of preparation. This is especially true right when hiring freezes may cause case backlogs.
Casper and Casper is here to help.
The experienced and compassionate Social Security Disability attorneys at Casper & Casper will handle everything—from collecting the evidence needed to prove that you can’t work to submitting all the paperwork and arguing your case in court. We’ll do all that we can to get you the benefits you need, as soon as possible.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We have offices located in Dayton, Hamilton, Middletown, and Cincinnati, Ohio, for your convenience.