Millions of Americans rely on Social Security Disability to provide them with a vital safety net when a medical condition prevents them from working for at least one year. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides monthly payments that help them make ends meet. But being disabled does not guarantee that a person’s application will be approved. The SSA does make mistakes and may inaccurately conclude that an applicant isn’t eligible. To make the strongest and fastest possible case for Social Security Disability, it helps to have experienced legal counsel on your side. Stanfield Bechtel Law is ready to serve you.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), also known as Social Security Disability, is a benefit that is paid by the taxes collected from workers’ paychecks. It is designed to cover the basic monthly expenses of someone who suffers a disabling injury or medical condition that prevents them from working. An applicant for SSDI must be able to show, first, that he or she has sufficient work history in order to qualify.
A worker earns “credits” when he or she earns money from working. According to the SSA, in general, a person will need 40 credits (20 of which were earned in the last 10 years, ending with the year your disability begins) to qualify. However, younger workers may be able to qualify with fewer credits.
Besides having enough work credits, an applicant must meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled” and the disability must prevent the applicant from doing any type of work he or she is eligible to do.
Does My Disability Qualify?
The SSA’s definition of disability varies from those of other federal programs. You are considered to be disabled if all the following apply:
You are unable to do work and engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of your condition. The term SGA is used to describe a certain level of work activity and earnings. A person’s work is “substantial” if it involves significant physical or mental activities or both. It is “gainful” if it is work performed for pay or profit, whether or not the employee realizes a profit.
The SSA maintains a list of disabling conditions that apply to each body system. These conditions are considered severe enough to prevent a person from doing any SGA. If the applicant’s condition isn’t on this list, then it must be severe enough to limit the person’s ability to do basic work-related activities.
You are unable to do work you did previously and you cannot adjust to other work because of your condition. If you can’t work your old job, the SSA must still determine whether you can perform another type of work. This takes into account your medical conditions, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills.
Your condition has either lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
Special Rules for Certain Groups
Although the SSA’s disability rules are strict, there are some exceptions and special rules for certain groups. They include:
People who are legally blind or have low vision. There are specific sight criteria that must be met. Even if an applicant does not meet these criteria, the person may qualify for disability if vision problems prevent him or her from working.
Surviving spouses with disabilities. When a worker dies, his or her surviving spouse or surviving divorced spouse may be eligible for benefits if:
- He or she is between the ages of 50 and 60
- He or she has a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of disability for adults
- The disability began before or within seven years of the worker’s death
Children with disabilities. A disabled child can receive disability benefits despite not having the necessary work history that would be required of an adult. The rules take into account the child’s age, when the disability began, and other factors.
Wounded warriors and veterans. Veterans with a VA disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T) or who developed a disability while on active military service on or after October 1, 2001, may qualify for expedited claim processing.
What Does SSDI Pay For?
Social Security Disability can be used to help an individual pay for basic living expenses such as:
- Mortgage or rent
- Utility, water, and electricity bills
- Doctor’s visits and medical needs
- Prescription medications
- Supporting one’s family
The amount of your SSDI monthly payment is based on your age, income, work credits, and expected retirement date. Benefits may be paid on top of unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation, and personal injury lawsuit damages.
How Does the Application Process Work?
Your SSDI claim may take several months to process, so it’s important to not only apply as early as you can but to retain an experienced lawyer who can help you make sure it is done correctly. Follow these steps to apply:
Gather all necessary documents. Included in these are your medical records, proof of income and age, and anything that can substantiate the nature of your disability. For example, statements from friends, family, and co-workers can support your claim.
Complete and submit your application to the SSA. An attorney can make sure this step is properly taken. This is vital because an incomplete or inaccurate application, or one that is submitted incorrectly to the SSA, will result in a claim delay or denial.
Wait for the claim to be reviewed. The SSA will examine and process your claim. It may take anywhere from three to six months for an initial decision. If your application is denied, you have the right to appeal and our firm can assist you.
Contact Our Connecticut Social Security Disability Attorney
The denial rate for initial SSDI applications is fairly high, and not having legal assistance will make it less likely that your claim is approved. Let the dedicated Social Security Disability attorneys of Stanfield Bechtel Law help you get the benefits you need. Give us a call today to get started.