Disability for the purposes of establishing entitlement to Social Security benefits is defined differently than other programs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as “the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” While some state programs pay compensation for partial disability or short-term disability, the SSA does not. The SSA pays disability benefits through two programs: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program.
You may be considered disabled by SSA when the following are true:
- You are unable to perform work that you were doing before because of a medical condition.
- You are unable to maintain any other substantially gainful activity or earn an income due to your health.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to remain for one year or more, or result in death.
These are the strict definitions of disability. There are also additional social security disability rules after age 50. Certain family members of disabled workers may also be entitled to receive money from Social Security. Studies show that many healthy young people now will develop a disability at some point before reaching the age 67. It is important to have a working understanding of what options may be available to you if you are no longer able to work and need economic support.
In other words, the probability that you may not be able to continue working until the age of retirement is greater than you think. Luckily Social Security has a couple of programs to offer economic support if you are unable to earn an income before retirement. To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability, as described above.
With this in mind, here are some important things you should know about Social Security disability rules:
- To be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked in employment where payroll taxes included payment into the federal Social Security fund for a specified period. You are required to satisfy a work test and meet minimum eligibility requirements, which may be based on your age. The minimum work period requirement varies for those workers who become disabled before they attain age 38 and increases incrementally for those workers who become disabled before they reach age 60.
- Like other retired workers, your average Social Security earnings are factored into the amount you receive. The amount is often less than the amount you would have received if you would have worked until your retirement age. The SSA will determine your monthly benefit based on your lifetime average earnings before you become disabled. Your benefit amount will be calculated using your covered earnings. SSDI payments range from $800 to $1,800 per month, on average.
You can create an account at the website www.SSA.gov and easily view your SSA earnings statement for an idea of what your benefit might be if you are approved for benefits.
The application process can be complicated for a disability claim. It is a bit more complicated than the process of applying for Social Security retirement benefits. You can begin the application for disability benefits online. You are required to provide SSA with the following information:
- Social Security number
- Birth certificate
- Medical information and documentation of your health condition
- Information about your work history
- A recent W 2 form
While you can begin completing the forms and gathering your documentation, we highly recommend consulting a disability attorney before submitting your claim. The fact is most first time applicants who attempt to obtain benefits on their own are unsuccessful. According to SSA data, only 22 percent of applicants were awarded SSDI benefits at the initial application stage from 2008 to 2017. In other words, 88 percent of first time applicants were denied.
Family members might be entitled to benefits too
Disability benefits are not only for those people who can no longer work. In some cases, family members of disabled workers can receive monetary and other benefits through SSA programs. There are specific rules for family members as well. Those who may be eligible include:
- Divorced spouse
- Adult child disabled before age 22
Generally, you are not entitled to Medicare benefits until you are eligible for retirement benefits. There is an exception for those who are disabled. Anyone entitled to SSDI benefits is also automatically eligible for Medicare after a 24-month waiting period. The entire application process can take about three to five months. So if you are in need of healthcare coverage, you should begin the process as soon as possible by contacting a knowledgeable attorney.
What are the medical conditions listed?
The SSA publishes a listing of medical impairments known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book is a list of known disabling impairments that include both physical and mental conditions. Meeting the criteria of one of these medical conditions helps to qualify you for benefits faster.
Some of the medical conditions listed that are likely to be approved by SSA are:
- Cardiovascular conditions
- Musculoskeletal issues like back injuries
- Respiratory issues
- Sense organs and speech problems
- Neurological problems like MS, epilepsy, etc.
A reputable Disability Lawyer San Antonio can assist you with learning more about Social Security benefits. Get assistance for your Social Security disability claim from an experienced attorney to increase your chances of a successful claim and avoid unnecessary delays.