If you have never applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits before, you probably have a lot of questions about the SSD system. Who qualifies? What is a “disability?” How long can the benefits last?
Here are some answers to those understandable questions.
Who are Social Security Disability benefits for?
The SSD benefits program exists to make up some or all of the income lost when a person must stop working due to a disabling condition or illness. The disability must have lasted for at least 12 months or be expected to last at least that long. You also must have a certain amount of recent work history. The SSD program is funded through taxes withheld from paychecks.
What is a ‘disability’ for SSD purposes?
The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability is broader than you might think. Besides physical impairments, it also includes chronic conditions like COPD, potentially fatal illnesses like cancer, and mental illnesses like schizophrenia and depression. Again, the condition or illness you are living with need not be permanent or fatal. It does need to have lasted for at least 12 months, or you must reasonably expect to last for 12 months.
How do I prove disability?
The evidence you present in your application or appeal must show that you have a condition or illness that makes it impossible for you to continue in your current job or in another type of work. Things like your medical records, a report from a physician, and the results of lab tests are typical evidence presented to the SSA.
How easy is it to get approved?
The SSA is very strict when it comes to SSD benefits. Its field offices reject most initial applications. Fortunately, you have the right to appeal. The problem is that the backlog of cases is so long in many states that it could be months before your appeal date. However, working with an attorney who focuses on SSD law can help you resolve your case as soon as possible.