As a result of a serious injury or illness, there may come a point when you ponder your ability to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.

Since you’re unsure of whether or not you qualify, you’re likely to have a variety of questions about the Social Security Disability system and how your eligibility is determined.

First off, you must have a long enough work history to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If you meet that requirement, the Social Security Administration will then address the following questions as they relate to your situation:

  • Are you working? Even if you aren’t currently employed, you may still qualify for benefits. However, the process is different, as your application is sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office for a final decision.
  • Do you have a severe medical condition? The definition of “severe” differs from one person to the next, but the Social Security Administration considers it a condition that limits your ability to complete basic work functions for a minimum of 12 months.
  • Does your condition appear on the list of disability conditions? The Social Security Administration maintains a list of disabling medical conditions, so you’ll want to review it before you file for benefits. In some cases, expedited processing is available, such as for compassionate allowances.
  • Are you physically able to do any type of work? If you’re unable to do the work that you previously did, the Social Security Administration will then consider if you can do any type of work. When answering this question, the Social Security Administration takes into consideration your skills, education, work experience and age.

There is nothing more frustrating than thinking you qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, just to receive a denial letter in the mail.

Should this happen, review the letter in full to ensure that you understand the reason and the next steps in the process. You don’t want to stop here, as you have the legal right to file an appeal.

If you’re confident you should receive Social Security Disability, don’t stop until you obtain all the compensation you deserve. You pay into the system, so it’s your time to get what’s owed to you.