The application process for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) can be long and complicated. To help improve your chances of approval, there are five important things you should know about how the Social Security Disability benefits program and application work.
If you have questions about the Social Security Disability application or would like help filing or appealing your claim, the disability lawyers of Dayes Law Firm PC are available to help. Contact us today to learn more.
1. Your Work History Affects Eligibility
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have paid taxes into Social Security while you were working. Work credits are assigned based on your earnings every year. In 2017, you must earn $1,300 to get one work credit and $5,200 to get the maximum of four credits for one year.
The number of credits you need for SSDI will vary depending on the age you were when you became disabled. In general, you will need 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the 10 years before you became disabled.
However, those who are younger may qualify with fewer credits.
2. Your Disability Must Prevent You from Working
Simply being diagnosed with a disability will not qualify you for SSDI benefits. To qualify, your disability must meet the SSA's definition of disabled. This requires that your condition:
- Prevent you from performing the type of work you did prior to your diagnosis
- Prevent you from being able to perform any other type of work
To determine if you are disabled according to this definition, the SSA will assess your ability to perform substantial gainful activity, review your medical records, and may also perform a residual functional capacity assessment.
3. A Long-Term Condition Must Exist
In addition to your inability to work, the SSA also requires that your condition be long-term.
SSDI benefits are not for short-term disabilities. In order to qualify for benefits, your medical records must support that your condition is likely to last at least 12 months or result in death.
It must also be established that you have undergone treatment through standard methods and have shown no significant improvements as a result. If your condition can be improved through therapy or medication, the SSA will likely not consider your condition disabling.
4. Claims are Often Denied
It is important to know that the SSA commonly rejects initial claims for SSDI benefits. Often, this is not because an individual does not qualify, but could be for any number of reasons, including:
- There are inaccuracies in your application
- There are errors in your application
- Your medical records are not complete
- Your medical records do not support your claim
- The SSA cannot get into touch with you
- You have missed a deadline
Our disability lawyers can help you gather the necessary evidence to accurately complete your application and submit it on time.
5. You May Appeal or Reapply
If your claim is denied, you are entitled to an appeal, but there are short deadlines for beginning the appeals process.
The first level is reconsideration, where your same application will be reviewed by a new disability determination officer. You have 60 days from the date of your denial to file a request for reconsideration.
If your claim is denied again, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days of receiving a denial.
The next step is for your claim to be reviewed by the Appeals Council, which will review the ALJ's decision.
The final step is to file a lawsuit in federal district court. Most cases, however, do not make it to this point.
Because the appeals process can be lengthy and confusing, it is recommended that you work with an experienced disability lawyer who can guide you through the process and handle the details for you.
Contact a Social Security Disability Lawyer Now
A Phoenix Social Security disability lawyer at Dayes Law Firm PC will work tirelessly to help our clients access the benefits they need. We offer free initial case consultations and operate on contingency fee basis, which means we do not get paid unless we recover compensation for you.