Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
It is natural to want to avoid thinking about disability benefits. In reality though, even able-bodied people are only temporarily “abled.” If disability is not inevitable, it is at least a real possibility that any of us can face at any moment. In fact, studies indicate that a 20-year-old employee has a 25% chance of becoming disabled before he reaches retirement. For this reason, it is important to understand how disability benefits work in case we need them.
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Am I Eligible For SSD Benefits?
An important thing to understand about social security disability benefits (https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf) is that they are not for temporary or short-term injuries. In order to be eligible for social security disability benefits, you must have a condition that a doctor says will last at least one year or result in death.
In addition to the length and severity of your disability, there are two criteria tests that must be met:
- A Recent Work Test.
- A Duration of Work Test.
A Recent Work Test is based on the age at which you became disabled, and looks at whether you worked enough leading up to the injury to qualify for social security disability coverage. In general, the older you are, the longer you need to have worked to get coverage. For instance, if you were injured at age 24 or younger, you must have one and a half cumulative years of work out of the previous three years, ending when the disability started. If you become disabled between the ages of 24 and 32, you must have worked for half the time between the ages of 21 and the age at which your disability occurred. For instance, if you became disabled at 27, 27 – 21 is six, and half of six is three, so you would need three cumulative years of work during that period ending when you became disabled.
The duration work test shows that you worked long enough to accumulate sufficient social security benefits to cover your disability. Specifically, the duration of work test tells you how many quarters (three-month-long periods) you must have worked in order to qualify for coverage. A quick way to make this calculation, is to take the year (YYYY) that you were injured, and then subtract the year in which you turned 22-years-old. This will result in the number of quarters necessary to meet the duration requirement. It is important to note that you must have a minimum of six quarters (or one and a half years) of work in order to meet the duration requirement, regardless of your age.
When you file an application with the social security administration, it will be reviewed to ensure it meets these basic qualifications. In addition, they may assess your current work activities to see how your ability to work is impacted by your disability. They will likely also talk to your doctors to get more information about how your disability affects your mobility and job performance. However, your doctor does not make the determination as to whether you are disabled for the purposes of receiving social security benefits. That decision is made by the agency based on the cumulative facts and information collected and their application to statutory guidelines.
Does My Medical Condition Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you have a serious medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death, then you may qualify for social security disability benefits. However, as noted above, there are a number of other criteria that must also be met, such as ensuring that you have worked long enough to accumulate sufficient coverage and verifying the disability’s impact on your ability to perform your job. If you have a short-term or temporary injury or illness, there may be other avenues of compensation available to you, but the federal government reserves social security disability benefits for those with chronic and fatal medical conditions.
The state uses a five-step evaluation process to determine whether your medical condition qualifies for coverage. Each step is essentially an inquiry, as follows:
Are you working and, if so, how much are you earning?
In order to pass this step, you must either be currently unable to work due to your disability, or working but earning no more than $1,276 per month. If you are earning more than this amount, you will be found not to be disabled within the meaning of this assessment. Note that your average monthly income must also average out to $1,276 per month or less, so simply earning less than that amount for one month will not suffice to pass the test.
How “severe” is your disability?
In order to receive social security disability coverage, your disability must be deemed “severe.” In order to meet this threshold, your disability must impact your ability to do basic work tasks for at least one year, such as standing, lifting, and remembering things.
Does your disability correspond with a “listing?”
The social security disability office keeps a listing of medical conditions that they consider severe enough such that they should prevent a person (at any age or stage of employment) from working. If your disability matches or is medically equivalent to a listing, you will be found to qualify for coverage. If your disability does not correspond to an existing listing, they will move on to the next line of inquiry.
Can you perform that job you had before?
If your disability has not impacted your ability to perform your job duties the same way that you were before the onset of your symptoms or injury, then the state will determine that you do not have a compensable disability. However, if your disability has prevented or affected your ability to perform the same job in the same way, they will ask one more question.
How Long Does it Take to Get Benefits?
Once you submit your application for social security benefits you can receive benefits in as little as 30 to 90 days. However, if your initial claim gets denied it can take another nine months to a year for the appeal. Having a lawyer to assist you and ensure that your application is streamlined will go a long way in expediting the process, as missing or insufficient information can delay the process by necessitating additional doctor appointments and interviews. If you believe you qualify for social security disability benefits, do not wait another minute. Call Mitchell & Associates and start claiming the support you have earned.