Social Security Disability Requirements
Disability lawyers can help clients understand the ins-and-outs of the SSA. When the SSA evaluates an application for benefits, several things are considered. Firstly, the applicant must show substantial work history. Secondly, that job or career must be a job or career formally recognized by the SSA. Thirdly, the applicant must show a disability that prevents gainful employment. Finally, that disability must be formally recognized by the SSA.
Typically, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability. However, there are always exceptions. Meanwhile, the benefits themselves are usually paid on a regular monthly basis. These benefits continue until the individual is able to work again.
Special rules, called “work incentives,” offer continued benefits and health care coverage to recipients transitioning back to work. Individuals who receive Social Security disability benefits will receive the same amount of benefits when those individuals reach retirement age.
However, those disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits. Nonetheless, there are cases where the SSA may determine a recipient is no longer qualifying for benefits. The SSA can either determine that the individual is working at a “substantial” level, or that the individual is no longer disabled.
In 2011, average earnings of $1,000 or more per month ($1,640 or more per month for blind recipients) were usually considered substantial. The ending of disability is also important. When the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides that medical conditions are no longer disabling, this determination is based on several factors.
The SSA first looks for improvements in the disability. The SSA also looks for changes in work status, such as a return to work or increase in work capability. These work and disability shifts help the SSA to determine if a recipient still qualifies for social security disability benefits.
Generally, if an individual is able to work, that individual is not going to receive benefits. However, there are still more specific criteria pertaining to work and disability. Moreover, individuals who are no longer disabled can still receive some type of assistance from the SSA. These individuals may be eligible for other social security programs outside of traditional disability assistance.
One such program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is based on one’s age, disability, and lack of income and/or resources. Typically, SSI is designed for poor individuals and families. In some cases, an applicant may qualify for both SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
In the case that applicants are strictly seeking benefits for disability, SSDI is the ideal program. Again, SSDI eligibility is based largely on disability criteria and so-called work credit history. Many applicants who are rejected for SSDI make several crucial mistakes.
Firstly, applicants miss important application and documentation deadlines. Secondly, applicants fail to complete paperwork properly. This includes accurate information concerning personal, medical and employee characteristics. Unfortunately, many disabled workers who are unable to work simply do not understand how the SSA defines ‘disability.’
The system relies on a specific and narrow definition of disability.