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Social Security Disability Benefits

How does it work?

For most people, disability is not something that we think about having to deal with during our lives. However, becoming disabled may be more likely to happen to us than we would like to think. Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled before retiring. Therefore, it is important to set up a plan in case you do become disabled during your career. Social Security pays benefits to those who fall under their definition of disability. Social Security names those disabled who cannot work because they have a prolonged medical condition (expecting to last at least one year) or a condition expected to cause death. Social Security only gives total disability, i.e. to those with these criteria, not those with partial or short-term disability. Once someone is determined eligible to receive Social Security Disability Benefits, Social Security typically will pay monthly cash benefits. These benefits generally continue until the disabled person is able to return to work again on a regular basis. Additionally, they offer “work incentives” which provide continued benefits and health care coverage to incentivize people to transition back to work. If someone is still receiving disability benefits when he reaches full retirement age (currently 66 years old), the disability benefits convert to retirement benefits although the value of the benefits remains constant.

Am I eligible?

Social Security uses both medical criteria and non-medical criteria to determine whether someone is eligible for disability benefits. In order to be eligible, you need meet two different earnings tests. The first is a recent work test, which is based on your age at the time you became disabled. The second is a duration of work test to prove that you worked long enough under Social Security. Remember Social Security only pays for total disability. Social Security considers you disabled if you cannot do the work that you did prior to your injury, if they decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your injury or condition, and if your disability is expected to last at least one year or result in death. In addition to meeting Social Security’s definition of disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in a job that requires you to pay Social Security. Social Security uses your total yearly wages in order to determine the number of work credits you receive annually. The dollar amount needed for a work credit changes each year. You accumulate these work credits over the course of your working years. Typically, 40 credits are required in order to qualify for disability, 20 of these within the last 10 years. The case may be different for younger workers who have been in the workforce for less time.

What if I get denied?

If you get denied Social Security Disability Benefits, you should immediately request an appeal (there is a 60-day deadline). It’s surprising that most disability claims that are denied do not get appealed. However, it is actually during an appeals process that the claimant has the best chance of winning the claim and benefits. This is different from being denied and then starting a new application, which often times people make the mistake of doing. By starting a new application instead of appealing a denied application, you are wasting valuable time. The new application will most likely get denied for the same reason as the first application. Your best chance at getting approved for disability is continuing the current application with an appeal. In addition to requesting an appeal, you should determine why your case was denied. Statistics show that initial claims for disability benefits have a denial rate of 65 percent. Hiring a disability lawyer could also help you when you appeal the denial.

If you believe you have a SSDI case and would like to speak to a lawyer give us a call to discuss what options may be available for you. If you would rather submit your case please fill out our contact form or chat with one our live chat operators.

"Disability Benefits." Disability Benefits (n.d.): n. pag. Social Security Administration. Web. 6 June 2016.

"Disability Planner: How Much Work Do You Need?" Social Security Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

"Disability Planner: How You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits." Social Security Administration. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

Lawrence, Beth. "What to Do If Your Social Security Disability Case Is Denied | Disability Secrets." Disability Secrets. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 June 2016.

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