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Social Security Disability Explained

People experiencing long-term, permanent, or fatal medical conditions are obliged to receive monthly financial assistance through the Social Security Administration. The SSA will not pay benefits to people with minor or short-term disabilities, although these people may seek benefits from other organizations. Qualifying family members of those receiving Social Security Disability benefits may also be entitled to compensation.

A person may qualify for SSD benefits if they:

  • Are a qualified family member of a person meeting the below requirements
  • Cannot work for 12 or more consecutive months
  • Meet required age, education, and work history benchmarks
  • Were given a fatal medical diagnosis

SSD coverage comes in two forms:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)2
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)3

Whether someone qualifies for SSDI or SSI coverage ultimately depends on his or her work history. In short, SSDI is reserved for citizens who have paid into the system long enough to offset the cost of their benefit. A person who has been in the workforce for ten years or longer has a greater chance of qualifying for SSDI coverage. Conversely, those with more limited work experience may still qualify for disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income program. It is not uncommon for eligible applicants to qualify for both SSDI and SSI assistance.

Does My Condition Qualify For SSD Coverage?

Below is a list of some of the most commonly accepted conditions. This list does not reference all conditions eligible for SSD coverage, and it is likewise possible to have one of these conditions and still fail to qualify for reasons unrelated to your illness.

  • Anxiety
  • Asthma
  • Autism
  • Back injuries
  • Bone marrow failure
  • Cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • COPD
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Depression
  • Dermatitis
  • Epilepsy
  • Hearing/vision loss
  • Heart failure
  • Hemolytic anemias
  • HIV/AIDS
  • IBD
  • Intellectual disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lupus
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome

Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits

You have three options when applying for SSD coverage:

  1. File your application online at https://www.ssa.gov/applyfordisability/.
  2. Call SSA using the following toll-free hotline: (800) 772-1213.
  3. Contact your local Social Security office to schedule an in-person appointment.

Prior to submitting your application for SSD coverage, it is recommended that you assemble relevant work and medical history documentation.

If it has been a while since you have visited a doctor, schedule an appointment with your family physician as soon as possible. Ask your doctor how your condition may impact your work eligibility in the future. He or she will examine you and may order several lab or imaging tests to determine your ability to continue working. Retain copies of all paperwork you receive at the doctor’s office, including doctor’s notes, lab test results, copies of x-rays, and prescription information. The Social Security Administration will want to review those documents.

Additionally, begin gathering pertinent work history documents. Things like W-2’s, employment agreements, severance agreements, termination papers, financial award letters are good things to look for. If you don’t have access to copies of these documents, reach out to your current and past employers to request copies. They may have retained these files for their records. Your birth certificate and Social Security card will also be needed to verify your identity.

What Will Be My Monthly Benefit Amount?

There is no easy answer to this question. Ultimately, what a person is able to earn through Social Security Disability depends on their average earnings over the course of his or her career. In a nutshell, eligible applicants will receive a portion of their average income, as determined by SSA. For your convenience, the agency has set up a series of online “calculators” to help consumers estimate their future benefit amount: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/calculators/.

Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

Some people whose disabilities bar them from working full-time yet retain the ability to work on a limited basis may qualify for reduced SSD benefits. Disability benefits are generally reduced for working people until they reach full retirement age. That rate of reduction depends on a number of factors, including an applicant’s distance from retirement and lifetime earnings.

While retirement ages vary based on the year of someone’s birth, the current benchmark is 67 for those born after 1959. Once a person reaches 67 (or his or her specified retirement age), his or her benefits amount will no longer be reduced, regardless of earnings. For the most up-to-date figures regarding working beneficiaries, visit the Social Security Administration’s dedicated web page on the subject: https://www.ssa.gov/planners/retire/whileworking.html#h1

Appealing A Previously Denied Claim

Your best option following a Social Security Disability claim denial is to reach out to a trusted attorney who routinely represents disability clients. A savvy disability lawyer can walk you through the appeals process and help you make better sense of your options.

If your Social Security Disability claim was previously denied, we encourage you to reach out to one of our compassionate, knowledgeable attorneys. We have helped countless people like you realize financial independence following a challenging medical diagnosis.

We are proud to offer every client a free initial consultation. This gives those seeking legal representation a risk-free opportunity to explore their legal avenues. If you are curious about how a licensed disability attorney can produce better outcomes for you and your family, call our Hibbing office at 866-663-8774 or use our convenient contact form to reach us by email.

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