Many people understand what Social Security Disability benefits are, but not everyone knows exactly who qualifies for these benefits. How long must you be disabled in order to qualify for Social Security Disability? How does your work history impact your ability to collect Social Security Disability benefits? How do you know if your particular disability qualifies under the Social Security Administration's guidelines? If you feel that you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits but are unsure as to whether or not you meet the criteria set forth by the Social Security Administration, the following information can help shed some light on the subject.
Long Term or Short Term?
The first thing you need to understand when considering whether or not you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits is that only long-term or permanent disabilities qualify. If you will be disabled only for a few months, you will not be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits from the SSA.
In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must suffer from a disabling condition that will last for at least one year. It is important to understand that you do not have to be disabled for a full year before applying for benefits, but there must be evidence that your disability will last for a total of twelve months or more in order to qualify.
It is also important to know that there is a five-month waiting period before you can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, so your monthly benefits will not actually go into effect until five months after the onset date of your disability if you are approved.
An Inability to Work
In addition to proving that your condition will last at least twelve months, a person must also prove that the disability prevents him/her from performing gainful employment. The impairment can be either physical or psychological in nature, but it must be severe enough that it prevents you from working or, if you do continue to work, it must be severe enough to prevent you from earning more than $1000 per month.
Sufficient Work Credits
There are two types of Social Security Disability benefits. The first type, Social Security Disability Insurance, is only available to those individuals who have earned enough work credits to qualify for the program. If you have not earned enough work credits, you will not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance payments even if you are deemed disabled by the SSA. If this is the case, however, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income.
Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program and you do not need work credits in order to qualify for these benefits, but your household income and assets must be below the limits set by the Social Security Administration. If your household income and assets exceed certain levels you will not qualify for Supplemental Security Income since this program is intended for those applicants who are facing financial hardship due to their disabilities.
Determining Whether or Not You Are Disabled
How do you know if your condition qualifies you for Social Security Disability benefits? The Social Security Administration uses a Listing of Impairments to determine whether or not an individual qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits. It is still possible, however, to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits even if your condition is not included in the Listings used by the SSA.
In order to qualify for benefits, you will need to prove that your condition prevents you from being able to work and that it will last for at least one year. If your condition does fall within the Listings used by the SSA, you may find it much easier to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits than if you suffer from a disability that is not outlined in the Listings.
Chances of Qualifying
Many people wonder how good their chances are of qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits. The fact of the matter is that the chances of qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits can vary greatly from one disability case to the next. Your specific case will depend on your medical history, medical records, work history and specific condition.
Overall, only about 30 percent of the applications received by the Social Security Administration are approved at the initial claim level. If your application for Social Security Disability benefits is denied at this stage of the application process, you may appeal the decision. To increase your chances of winning a successful appeal and qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits, you may wish to consult with a Social Security Disability attorney to represent you during the appeal process.