Ask Yourself These Questions to Determine SSD Eligibility

January 30th, 2018 by Attorney John Colvin

SSDI Questions to Ask

Tennessee residents often ask what the criteria are that the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to determine eligibility for disability benefits. If you qualify, you may be paid Social Security disability (SSD) benefits each month if you are unable to work for at least a year due to the disability.

The definition of disability under the SSA is different than other federal programs. The Social Security Administration pays benefits only for full disability; it does not pay benefits for a partial or short-term disability. To determine whether you are possibly eligible for SSD, you should consider the following questions:

Do I Qualify Medically for Social Security Disability?

Your medical disability must have lasted or will last at least a year for you to receive benefits. To qualify, you must have a health condition that is ‘severe’ and meets the requirements of an SSA impairment listing; a condition which makes working in your past jobs impossible; or one which makes working in less strenuous jobs impossible.

SSA will look at your age, education and skill set to determine whether you are unable to do other work. They also will look at other people who have the same type of job and medical problem to determine whether you are still able to work by their definition. Generally, SSA finds that people who are older than 50 are less able to adjust to new work.

For example, to meet the requirement for a lung cancer impairment listing you must have a doctor’s report that shows small cell lung cancer on your biopsy. You will not need to show how your cancer or treatment limits your ability to work. However,  if you do not meet an impairment listing, you must show evidence to SSA that your medical problem limits your ability to work.

It is common for SSD benefits to be denied because of a lack of hard medical proof for cases that do not involve an impairment listing. Your doctor needs to provide extensive medical documentation of your health problem and how it interferes with your ability to hold a job.

Do I Qualify Financially for Social Security Disability?

If you make a certain sum per month – known as substantial gainful activity – SSA considers you gainfully employed and you are ineligible for SSD. As of 2017, the level for substantial gainful activity was $1,170/month. Generally, you can work and earn up to that amount when you apply for SSD.  The Administration will review a claimant’s work activity and wages if they are working part time when they apply for SSD; it is common for SSA to deny applicants for exceeding the substantial gainful activity allowance.

Additionally, you must have paid taxes into the Social Security system for a certain number of years, and you may have a problem if you have not worked for many years. SSD work requirements are stricter than for Medicare or Social Security retirement benefits. For example, a 55-year-old must have been working for a minimum of eight years to be eligible for SSD. Five of those years must have been in the last 10 years.

It is critical to remember that even if you may qualify for SSD, you will not necessarily be approved when you submit your application. It is often necessary to hire an experienced Social Security disability attorney to obtain your needed benefits. It is estimated that 65% of initial SSD claims are denied for either medical or financial reasons.

Were You Denied Social Security Disability? Contact Attorney John R. Colvin Today

Social Security disability attorney John R. Colvin has assisted SSDI applicants for more than 20 years. He can work with the Social Security Administration so that you can get the benefits you are entitled to. If you have questions about your SSD case, please contact us at 931-962-1044, or fill out our online form. Put John R. Colvin’s experience to work for you.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama