5 Things to Consider When Filing for Disability

A social security disability form and a social security card

Knowing how the SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) process works is essential to receiving disability benefits. Every year, only a portion of the millions of Americans who apply for the benefits are approved. In 2019, only 35.9% of the applications for disability benefits were awarded. 

Here are the five key considerations that people should make when filing for disability benefits.

Matching an SSA-Approved Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a list of medical conditions that qualify people for disability benefits in a manual known as the Blue Book. Under each listing, there are medical criteria to be met for the condition for an applicant to qualify for benefits. If an applicant’s condition is not listed, he or she can still be found to be disabled if the condition’s severity meets the criteria for one of the listed medical conditions.

The Disability Duration Requirement

One of the SSDI requirements is that an applicant’s medical condition should be so severe that it is expected to keep him or her out of work for a minimum of 12 months. The SSA denies claims from people who can resume work in less than 12 months.

Ability to Do Work in a Different Capacity

An applicant has to be totally unable to work to qualify for SSDI benefits. Therefore, by applicants determining whether they can work in any capacity, they can help establish whether they should apply for SSDI. If applicants do not meet any of the Blue Book listings, the SSA will determine their residual functional capacity (RFC) and might consider medical-vocational allowances for them.

Work History

To qualify for SSDI benefits, people are required to have worked long enough and paid FICA taxes. Part of these taxes should have been paid in recent years. The SSA uses this work history to calculate the work credits for applicants. Depending on age, applicants are required to earn a certain number of credits to be eligible for SSDI.

Legal Assistance

Applying for disability benefits is a daunting proposition. Eligibility depends on complex calculations and evaluations. Studies have shown that the denial rates for disability benefits are higher among claimants who do not have attorneys. People can give themselves the best chance at having their claims approved by working with disability benefits attorneys. Besides offering advice, the attorneys are a valuable resource in filling out applications, organizing documentation and helping with the process of appeals when necessary.


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