Social Security Disability

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Sometimes, it becomes simply impossible for someone to continue to work. Whether it is due to an accident or the worsening of a life-long condition, people can become disabled and unable to do their previous job. Yet they still need to be able to pay their bills. The federal government offers Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) to help those people stay afloat after being rendered unable to work through no fault of their own.

SSDI is not easy to get – by the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s own statistics, only around 40% of people eventually prevail, even after appealing. There is, however, a distinct process for applying, and short, specific criteria that you must have in order to qualify. You must have worked jobs previously that took Social Security payments out of your paycheck, and you must have an impairment that fits the SSA’s definition of a ‘disability.’

Who Qualifies as Disabled?

Generally, the SSA considers someone disabled if:

  • The individual is unable to do the work they did before;
  • They cannot simply adjust to other work because of the medical condition; and
  • They had the condition in question for one year or more.

These criteria appear straightforward, but can in reality be extremely complex. The SSA uses a five-step process to determine that each of these factors does apply in each case. The steps are:

  • Are you working? If you are, and make above a certain threshold – $1,070 per month – as a rule, you may not apply for disability benefits.
  • Is your condition severe enough to interfere with basic work-related activities? “Basic work-related activities” can vary depending on the field of work you were formerly employed in.
  • Is your condition among those in the SSA medical listings? SSA maintains what they call medical listings – short descriptions of illnesses and maladies. If your condition matches a medical listing, you will generally be found to be disabled. If it does not, the case continues.
  • Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition does not match a medical listing, but is found to be equally severe as those that do, the next question is if you can do your former job. If so, your claim will usually be denied.
  • Can you do any other type of work? This is where many claims fail. The applicant must be unable to do any type of work; mere inability to do your old job is not enough.

If all these questions are answered appropriately, your claim will be approved. There are some special situations, such as being blind or a wounded veteran, where the standard of review will differ, but these situations are specifically enumerated by the SSA. Anyone who does not meet these specific categories is subject to the normal standard of review.

If your claim is approved, your benefits will start in the sixth month after your determination of disability. For example, if you are found disabled on February 1, your first benefit would be paid to you on August 1.

A Social Security Disability Attorney Can Help

SSDI cases can be very intimidating and confusing, especially when you may be in a financial hole already due to your disability. A Social Security professional can help. The New York Lawyers are trained in Social Security law, with years of experience and knowledge that we will put to work for you. Contact our offices today for a free initial consultation.