Common Terms to Know When Applying for Disability

Submitted by Eric on

If you have a disability and you are planning to apply for a disability benefits there are some terms that you should know so that you are sure you understand the requirements for eligibility for disability benefits.

There are several terms that relate to eligibility for disability benefits which include the SSA’s definition of disability, the role of work credits in determining eligibility for disability benefits, what substantial gainful activity is, the role of the compassionate allowance, and the SSA’s Blue Book.

The SSA’s Definition of Disability

First you need to meet the SSA’s definition of disability which is that your medical condition must not allow you to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a medically determined physical or mental impairment(s) which is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.

Common Terms When Filling Out the Disability Benefit Application Form

Work credits

These are accumulated for each year you work and your eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI) depends on how many work credits you have accrued up to the date you have filed your application for SSDI.

For example, a person who is over 60 years when filing for disability benefits will need 40 work credits. In 2024, you earn one Social Security or Medicare credit for every $1,730 in covered earnings each year. You must earn $6,920 to get the maximum four credits for the year. If you have not reached 24 years you may qualify if you have 6 credits earned in the 3-year period ending when your disability starts.

Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must not be able to take part in any substantial gainful activity (SGA). The amount of monthly earnings considered to be SGA depends on the person's disability.

The Social Security Act allows a higher SGA amount for statutorily blind individuals. The monthly SGA amount for statutorily blind people for 2024 is $2,590. For the non-blind, the monthly SGA amount for 2024 is $1,550.

Compassionate Allowance

Compassionate Allowances are a way to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that, by definition, meet Social Security's standards for disability benefits.

These conditions include certain cancers, adult brain disorders, and a number of rare disorders that affect children. The SSA can easily identify potential Compassionate Allowances so that they can make decisions quickly regarding an applicant’s eligibility for disability benefits.

Blue Book listing

This lists impairments the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers severe enough to prevent someone from working and describes the medical criteria for determining if that person is eligible to receive disability benefits.

If you are applying for a disability benefit the terms may be confusing but it is important you know them so you can determine if you are eligible for disability benefits. A disability lawyer can explain and walk you through the application process which will help you to receive your disability benefits as quickly as possible.

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