SSD Qualifications 101

If you’re hurt and you can’t work, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits (SSD for short). The federal government will pay you cash benefits every month if the illness or injury that is keeping you from work qualifies. The rules for qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits may sound simple, but the Social Security Administration (SSA) follows strict rules when awarding SSD benefits. To win these benefits, you must be deemed “disabled” by the SSA. They use three simple questions. However, while the questions may seem simple, the answers are often complicated.


If you’re still earning money doing the job you did before, the SSA will not consider you disabled. Disability claimants must prove that they cannot do the work they did because of a physical or mental impairment backed up by medical evidence. Reports from physicians or other licensed health professionals establish a disability (like a podiatrist if you’re claiming a foot injury). Other medical evidence, such as hospital records and information from employers, is evaluated to determine the severity of the impairment.


If the SSA determines that you cannot do the work you did before, they will see if you can do other work. “Other work” includes hypothetical jobs that may or may not be actually available to you. These are jobs that you could do even with your impairment. They evaluate your skills, work experience and disability to determine if you could do a different job. If the SSA finds that you should be able to do a different job, your claim may be denied. This requirement only applies to claimants 49 and under. If you’re 50 or older, this will rule not apply to your situation.


In order to qualify for SSD benefits, your impairment must be expected to last for more than one year or result in death. Medical evidence also must prove how long your impairment has lasted or is expected to last. The SSA does not pay benefits for short-term or partial disability because they expect that people have savings or other resources to help them through shorter periods of unemployment.


If your impairment meets Social Security’s disability qualifications and you are deemed “disabled,” the next step is to determine how much you will receive in SSD benefits. The amount you receive every month is based on what you have paid in taxes – not the severity of your disability. So if you’re young and have not worked much, your payments will be lower than someone who has had a job for 20 years. On the flip side, if you have worked a lot and paid a lot of money in taxes, your payments will be higher.

You must have worked a minimum amount to qualify for benefits, including five of the last 10 years. Children under 18 who are disabled and have not worked the minimum amount do not qualify for SSD. They may be entitled to a different type of Social Security benefit called SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. Unlike SSD, this program is based on need.


Following all these rules can be confusing – especially if you’re hurt. At Levine Benjamin, our Social Security disability lawyers have years of experience helping people just like you win the benefits that they deserve. From filing your claim to representing you during an appeal, we’re here for you.

Nearly 60 percent of SSD claims are denied; you’re more likely to win benefits if you have representation. Having an experienced disability attorney on your side can make a difference in your claim. If you have questions about qualifying for benefits or if you’re ready to file your claim, contact us today.


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