How to Determine if Your Condition Qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits

Understanding Your Eligibility: Does Your Medical Condition Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

If you’re battling a medical condition that prevents you from working, the possibility of applying for Social Security Disability benefits has likely crossed your mind. At this juncture, the process can seem daunting, steeped in complex law jargon and administrative procedures. This is where the David M. Dick Co., L.P.A. team steps in. Our mission is twofold — to fight for your benefits while simplifying the process, making it accessible for everyone we serve.

We’re here to clarify the complexity, starting with the crucial first step: defining whether your medical condition is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. We’ll guide you through the nuanced criteria the Social Security Administration sets, offering compassionate advice tailored to your unique situation. Our commitment is to empower you with understanding, confidence, and a clear path forward through the legal labyrinth of Social Security Disability benefits.

What Is Disability According to S.S.A.?

According to the Social Security Administration (S.S.A.), a disability is a condition that,

  • Significant Limitation: Your condition must profoundly impact your ability to perform fundamental tasks.
  • Basic Work Activities: These are the essential actions you’d normally do on a job, including:
    • Sitting
    • Standing
    • Lifting
    • Remembering
  • Duration of Condition: Your inability to perform these activities should last, or be expected to last, no less than one full year.
  • Life-Threatening: Alternatively, if the condition is expected to lead to death, it may also meet the S.S.A.’s criteria for disability.

David M. Dick Co., L.P.A. stands ready to offer the support and guidance you need to translate these criteria into a strong case for your entitlement to benefits.

The Necessity of Having Worked in Jobs Covered by Social Security

To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, there are specific criteria you need to meet:

  • Covered Employment: You must have been employed in jobs under Social Security’s umbrella. These jobs are part of a broader network contributing to the Social Security trust fund. This network includes most forms of employment and covers most workers in the United States.
  • Contribution Through Taxes: When paying the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) Social Security taxes while working, you secure your eligibility for potential disability benefits. These taxes are automatically deducted from your income if you are an employee or paid directly if you are self-employed and go directly into the Social Security trust fund.
  • Work Credits: As you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn ‘credits’ that count towards your eligibility for future benefits. The number of credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age and when you became disabled. In most cases, you would need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years, ending with the year you became disabled.

Income and Work Credits

The S.S.A. uses a system of ‘credits‘ to measure how much you have worked. Generally, you need 40 credits to qualify for disability benefits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last ten years, ending with the year you became disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

The Stepwise Process Used by the S.S.A.

The S.S.A. utilizes a sequential evaluation process to determine your eligibility:

  1. Current Employment Status: If you’re working and making above a certain amount, you generally won’t be considered disabled.
  2. Severity of Condition: Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.
  3. Disabling Condition List: The S.S.A. maintains a list of medical conditions considered so severe they automatically mean you’re disabled. If your condition is not on the list, the S.S.A. will have to decide if it’s equally severe to a medical condition on the list.
  4. Past Work Assessment: If it’s not listed, the S.S.A. then determines if your condition interferes with your ability to do the work that you did previously.
  5. Other Work Assessment: Lastly, if you can’t do the work you did in the past, the S.S.A. checks for any other type of work you can do despite your condition.

Extra Steps

The S.S.A. considers the claimant’s age, education, work experience, and physical/mental condition. Special rules apply to blind individuals, surviving spouses with disabilities, and children with disabilities.

The Five-Step Disability Assessment Process

Details about the five-step process mentioned above can be gathered from the S.S.A.’s website.

This journey can be complicated and overwhelming, so having an experienced lawyer by your side can be invaluable. At David M. Dick Co., L.P.A., we can help navigate you through this complex process, ensuring your application is correct and complete.

Navigating the world of Social Security Disability benefits can feel daunting—but it doesn’t have to be. If you believe you qualify, take the first step today and contact us.

This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Always consult with a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.