Social Security Disability benefits, often referred to as SSD or SSDI, are a vital form of financial support provided by the federal government to individuals who are unable to work due to disabilities. These benefits are designed to help people with disabilities meet their basic needs and maintain their quality of life when they can no longer engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). In this comprehensive guide, we will explore what Social Security Disability benefits are, who qualifies for them, how the application process works, and how experienced attorneys can assist you in obtaining the benefits you deserve.
What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability benefits are monthly financial payments provided by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to eligible individuals with disabilities that prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. These benefits are intended to serve as a financial safety net for individuals who cannot work due to physical or mental impairments.
Who Qualifies For Social Security Disability Benefits?
Qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits involves meeting specific criteria set forth by the SSA. To be eligible for benefits, you must satisfy the following conditions:
- Medical Eligibility: You must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. This impairment must be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in substantial gainful activity.
- Work History: To qualify for SSDI benefits, you typically need to have a sufficient work history and have paid into the Social Security system through payroll taxes. The number of work credits required depends on your age when you become disabled.
- Non-Engagement in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): You must not currently engage in SGA. The SSA uses income thresholds to determine what constitutes an SGA, and if your earnings exceed these thresholds, you may not qualify for benefits.
The Application Process
The process of applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be complex and time-consuming. It typically involves the following steps:
- Initial Application: You begin by submitting an initial application to the SSA, providing detailed information about your medical condition, work history, and other relevant factors. The SSA reviews your application to determine if you meet the medical and non-medical eligibility criteria.
- Reconsideration: If your initial application is denied, you can request a reconsideration of your case. During this stage, your application is reviewed by a different SSA examiner.
- Hearing Before an Administrative Law Judge: If your claim is denied at the reconsideration stage, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). This is an opportunity to present your case, provide additional evidence, and testify about your disability and its impact on your ability to work.
- Appeals Council and Federal Court: If the ALJ denies your claim, you can appeal to the SSA’s Appeals Council and, if necessary, take your case to federal court.
How A Lawyer Can Assist You
Navigating the Social Security Disability application process can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with disabilities that affect your daily life. A Social Security disability lawyer can provide the legal advice you need to successfully obtain the benefits you deserve.
Thanks to our friends from Ted A. Greve & Associates for their insight into Social Security Disability benefit cases.