Disability benefits can be incredibly helpful to those who are no longer able to work. They help to provide a baseline income so that these individuals can cover costs and live healthy, stable lives.
But how do you know if you qualify? The first step is to determine if you’re going to be eligible for these benefits. Then you can move forward with the application process and, if denied, the appeals process. But it all begins with eligibility.
Key areas to consider from the SSA
The Social Security Administration (SSA) rigorously checks every application and many people are denied the first time they apply — though a lot get through on an appeal or when they fix an error. To make the process go as smoothly as possible, the SSA also tells people directly what is required for eligibility. In a broad sense, key areas to consider are:
- You need to have a work history. The job that you worked in needs to be one that is covered by Social Security.
- You need to be suffering from a medical condition that means you cannot work. That condition has to meet the definition of disability that is used by the SSA.
- You need to be out of work for a significant amount of time. The SSA notes that monthly benefits generally go to those who cannot work for 12 months or more.
This all sounds straightforward, but it can get contentious. Perhaps you think that you’re disabled and you cannot work, but the SSA disagrees and says that you still should be able to work, even with your condition. They don’t think you meet their definition. Now what do you do?
This is why it’s so important to work with medical professionals who can give you the records you need to show that you are disabled, that it is a serious condition and that you won’t be returning to work in the near future. You may also need to work with an experienced legal team so that you can learn what steps to take if you get denied and you need to appeal that decision.