Social Security Disability benefits are only available to those who qualify. For those who qualify, having the benefit can be an enormous financial help. It can also relieve some of the serious stress associated with having an illness, condition, or serious injury.
Those who receive this benefit often use this money to live off of, including paying for their medical bills. For some, their dependents may need to use this money for living expenses as well.
If you think you may qualify for SSD benefits, you will need to go through the application process. This process can be time consuming and difficult. But asking yourself a few questions before you apply for SSD benefits will help you determine the outcome of your application.
1. Can I work?
Be honest with yourself. The question is not about whether you can do the job that you were doing before. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will want to know if you can work at all—doing anything.
However, working should not make your condition worse or be against the recommendation of your doctor. This also does not mean that you must learn a completely new trade, but one that is similar might be an option.
2. Is my condition severe?
In order to qualify for SS disability benefits, you must suffer from a condition that is severe enough to negatively impact your ability to work. You must also be unable to work for a period of at least twelve months. If your condition or illness is expected to improve within twelve months, then you are likely not a good candidate for SSD benefits.
Although severity is somewhat subjective, the Social Security Administration does consider a few conditions severe enough that it is (almost) automatically assumed that you can no longer work.
3. Have I worked long enough?
Another qualification for SSD benefits is that you have earned enough work credits to qualify for Social Security benefits. These credits are based on prior earnings.
You can earn up to four credits each year, and the value of each credit varies each year. In 2015, for example, each credit was $1,220. That means that once you have earned $4,880, then you have earned all four credits for the year. As a rule, you will need 40 credits to qualify, which vary with age.
4. Have I worked recent enough?
Of the 40 required credits, 20 credits must have been earned in the past 10 years before you became disabled. Most applicants must have worked for the prior 5 years to meet this requirement.
Simple math can tell you whether or not you qualify, so making these calculations before you go through the application process is helpful.
5. What information should I gather?
If you still think you will qualify for SSD benefits after reading through the first few questions, then you will need to start to gather information for the application process.
Below is a quick checklist to get you started:
- Birth certificate (or legal equivalent)
- Proof of U.S. citizen status or that you are a legal alien
- W-2 forms from prior years (or other proof of income)
- Medical information (including the name, address, phone, and fax number of any doctors that you have seen about your injury, illness, or condition)
- Prior medical appointment information
- Records regarding any applications for workers’ compensation or other benefits that you may have received following a work-related illness or injury (including permanent and temporary compensation sources)
You need original documents for most of these items, and for some, these items can be difficult to locate. The Social Security Administration may accept photocopies of proof of income and medical documentation, however.
6. Do I need a lawyer?
A vast majority of Social Security Disability applications are denied at the first two levels. That means that the application process can be both time consuming and frustrating for many applicants. Some give up because there are simply too many hurdles to jump to receive benefits.
Speak with a Social Security Lawyers in Boca Raton
Getting an experienced Social Security Lawyers in Boca Raton can be a huge help. The attorneys at Sternberg | Forsythe, P.A. understand the process and can work on your behalf to make it through.
You do not have to go through this process alone. Give us a call at (561)-687-5660 for a free consultation. We can help you work through these questions and answer any additional questions you may have.