By Tanya Phillips
If you are disabled and unable to work and the disability is expected to last for at least a year, you may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
You may qualify for Social Security benefits if you have worked long enough and paid into Social Security which usually is about ten years. After confirming your eligibility for benefits you must prove that you are disabled by Social Security standards. Social Security considers you to be disabled if:
- You cannot perform the work that you did before;
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
You can submit an application for Social Security Disability benefits online or by scheduling an appointment at your local Social Security office.
When determining whether you are disabled Social Security looks at many factors in addition to your health condition including your age, education and experience level. Your condition must be severe enough to interfere with basic work-related activities. Additionally, being older sometimes helps in the application process. Social Security has designated age categories to assist them in the evaluation process. The categories are:
- 18 – 44 Young individuals
- 45 – 49 Younger individuals
- 50 – 54 Approaching advanced age
- 55 – 59 Advanced age
- 60 – 65 Closely approaching retirement age
Social Security maintains a list of disabling medical conditions. If the condition you suffer from is not contained on their list, Social Security will compare the severity of your condition to those contained on the list. If Social Security finds that your condition is not as severe as those contained on their list, they will then examine whether you can perform the work you did before your alleged disability. If they determine that you are able to do your past job(s), your application will be denied.
If Social Security determines that you are not able to perform your past work, they will analyze whether you are able to do any other type of work. If Social Security determines that you are unable to adjust to another type of work, then they will find you disabled. If, however, they find based on your age, education and experience you will be able to perform some other type of work with your health condition, they will deny your claim.
If Social Security determines that you are disabled, there is a five month waiting period before your benefits begin. This means they begin paying your benefits on the sixth month after they find you disabled. For example, if Social Security finds that you became disabled in March of 2014, then you would be eligible for benefits in September of 2014. You would actually receive your first payment in October of 2014 because Social Security benefits are paid following the month in which they are due.
If Social Security denies your claim, you can appeal by filing a Request for Reconsideration within sixty days. This is the first appeal and Social Security will review your claim once more. If they agree with their initial decision and deny your claim again, then you will have another opportunity to appeal by filing a Request for a Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. There are a lot of disability applications currently pending and this process can take quite a while. Unfortunately, it is normally taking about one and a half to two years to get a hearing date after the Request for a Hearing is filed.
This can be an overwhelming process especially when you are dealing with significant health issues. These are the types of claims that my firm handles on a daily basis. If you have any questions regarding your Social Security Disability claim, please feel free to contact us.