If you have been seriously injured and can no longer work you may be entitled to Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) doesn’t just hand out benefits to people who say they cannot work. There are certain requirements that must be met in order to qualify.
First, a little background on the SSD program: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government assistance program in place for workers who are disabled and can no longer work full time as a result. The disabled worker must have worked and paid into Social Security enough through payroll taxes in order to qualify.
Individuals who are disabled but did not work long enough to qualify for SSDI may qualify for a different, need-based disability program called Supplemental Security Income.
If you have worked long enough to qualify for SSDI, your injury also must meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled.” The SSA defines disabled as being unable to perform your job or other work because of the disabling condition, which is expected to last at least a year or until death.
The disabling condition must also be included on the SSA’s long laundry list of injuries and limitations that qualify disabled workers for benefits. Alternatively, the condition must be “of equal severity” to a condition found on the list. A combination of several smaller conditions might also qualify a person for SSDI benefits.
That might seem like a relatively easy burden to meet, but the SSA denies about two-thirds of claims when applicants first apply. That means applicants must put forward their best case in the initial application. An experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can help with that.