Too often, the very people who need Social Security Disability (SSDI) don’t know if they qualify or why they might not be approved. They enter the process confused about how it works. And as a result, the SSA denies their application.
As a disability lawyer Memphis TN has trusted for years with their SSDI cases, I know the system inside and out. I’ve seen how frustrating and complicated it can get. But these 5 factors will help you understand why you might or might not qualify for disability benefits:
- Work History
The “I” in SSDI stands for “insurance.” SSDI works like any other insurance policy. Every time you receive a paycheck, you and your employer pay into the system through a tax. Those payments earn you work credits. And you need to have a certain minimum of work credits within a certain amount of years to earn disability coverage through the SSDI program.
- Your Age
Along with your work history, the SSA takes your age into account. They understand a 21-year-old likely hasn’t been able to earn the work credits that a 53-year-old might have earned over their lifetime. Younger applicants often need fewer years of work credits earned up. That said, you can never have too many work credits. The more you have, the more it will help your case.
- Your Condition
Certain conditions are considered so severe that they automatically qualify for SSDI. These include conditions like pancreatic cancer, ALS, and inflammatory breast cancer. Other conditions commonly receive benefits but may require a little more information to help make your case. And some conditions need a lot of evidence to show the SSA how debilitating they might be.
- Your Ability to Work
When applying for SSDI, you have to show your condition has impaired your ability to do the work you used to do. SSDI exists for people whose physical limitations prevent them from the level of gainful employment they might otherwise have. You also need to show you can’t get other related work. Age and work experience play a role in this, along with your physical and mental condition. For example, the SSA assumes younger applicants would generally have an easier time training into another area of work than someone in their late 50s.
- Your Income
Some people apply for disability and also earn a small amount of income on the side. Perhaps you might not be able to work full-time, but you can sell the occasional item on eBay. The SSA looks at this income to determine your eligibility. Your income needs to fall beneath a certain maximum in order to be eligible. That exact amount changes year-to-year.
When applying for disability insurance, you should speak with an attorney, and the sooner the better. An attorney only receives a small portion of your past-due benefits, so the sooner you get approved, the more you save. SSDI lawyers help you navigate the very complicated application process. The vast majority of applications get denied the first time around, but that estimate changes for the better when you have a lawyer. So it’s within everyone’s best interest that you not go it alone.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from Darrell Castle & Associates, PLLC for their insight into the SSDI application process.