Social Security Disability Benefits: Do I Qualify?

 In Social Security & Disability, Worker Compensation
Whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits is the question you hope you never have to think about…  Unfortunately though, not everyone can be lucky enough to avoid ever having to ask.

1.How do I know if I am eligible to apply for social security disability benefits?

When you’re stuck in a tragedy, it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Luckily though, there are government systems in place that are here to help.
If you are someone that has been working hard year after year, you are hit extra hard when you are no longer able to do so.  Not only is your day to day life changing drastically from this moment forward, but you are now left wondering how you will pay your bills, feed your family, or simply put – make ends meet.
To be eligible for social security disability benefits you are required to meet a recent work & duration test, so the upside of working hard your entire life, is that you are protecting yourself for situations just like this.  The current minimum requirement for eligibility of social security disability benefits is met by earning a maximum of 4 credits on a yearly basis (or an earning of one credit per $1,410 earned annually or $5,640 to get the maximum credit available).  However, there are minimum requirements based on your age which are as follows:
  • Before the age of 24, you may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts
  • Age 24 to 31 – Generally you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between age 21 and the time you become disabled. As a general example, if you become disabled at age 27, you would need 3 years of work (12 credits) out of the past 6 years (between ages 21 and 27)
  • Age 31 or older – Normally you must have at least 20 credits in the 10-year period immediately before you become disabled
Please click here for further information on how your credits are calculated and how to earn credits to qualify for social security disability.
Keep in mind that there are, of course, special circumstances where this same rule doesn’t apply.  For more information on cases such as this, please refer to question #3 below.

2.What is a qualifying event to be eligible for social security benefits?

Now that you know you’ve been working hard enough to be eligible, the next thing to look at is how to qualify these credits that have been earned during your years of employment.
There are 5 standard questions that the government is going to ask before paying out your benefits.
  1. Are you working?

    • This one is easy, you have already qualified yourself in the question presented above.
  2. Is your condition “severe”?

    • This means, has your condition/injury significantly affected your ability to perform your standard daily job duties.  If so, you must meet a minimum of 12 months of job interference for qualification to be considered.
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?

    • There are a significant amount of qualifying events for which you are considered an eligible candidate for social security disability benefits.  Please take a look at the list of qualifying events here, including a list of qualifying events for minors if you are applying for benefits on behalf of your child.
    • In severe diagnosis situations, the government has created compassionate allowances to qualify you as soon as possible.
  4. Can you do the work you previously did?

    • The government will need to know how your condition has affected your ability to perform current job functions.
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

    • The government will need to assure that you are not able to provide any other job functions before qualification.  While you may not be able to do the same job you have always done, there may be another line of work you are able to pursue.  *They take into consideration what job you have been working previously, your age, your education, your past work experience, and any other transferable skills you may have.*  When and if you are determined ineligible to complete another line of work, you are then considered officially disabled by government standards.
Once the government has thoroughly reviewed all of the questions above and it is determined that you are no longer able to perform at a place of employment, you are qualified as “disabled” meaning you are now eligible for social security benefits.

3. What if my situation does not meet the criteria above?

Don’t panic just yet!  There are certain “special situations” that are considered a qualifying event without the need to meet the normal standards in order to qualify for social security benefits.
  1. If you are considered “legally blind”, click here to see what help is available.
  2. If you are met with the tragic reality of becoming a widow, or widower, please take a look here at what help is available to you.
  3. If you are someone who is caring for a disabled child, you are also eligible for government assistance during your lifetime of caring for another.
  4. If you are a veteran who has fought for the freedom of the people of this great nation, you are certainly eligible for your own form of assistance.  Please click here for further information on how the government is able to help you after your selfless act of helping all of us.
Asking for help may not always be easy, but know that it is okay to ask when necessary.
It’s never easy being in a situation where you feel helpless, but know that all hope is not lost.  There are systems in place that are ready to help you, all you need to do is ask.
We here at Lipsey & Clifford are more than happy to help you during these troubling times in guiding you towards the solution that is right for you.  Contact us today for a free consultation on how we can help your tough situation, become a little bit easier.
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