When you sustain a major injury or develop a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least a year, or perhaps permanently, you could qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits.
There are several requirements you must meet to qualify for SSDI benefits. You must have worked for a job that paid into Social Security for a certain amount of time and your injury or condition must be long-term or permanent.
The SSA’s criteria for a qualifying disability
However, your injury must also be a qualifying disability. The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) decides if your disability qualifies you for SSDI benefits.
They do this by asking 5 questions:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition severe?
- Is your condition included in the list of disabling conditions?
- Can you return to the same type of work?
- Can you do any other type of work?
You must not be working or be working but not performing a “substantial gainful activity” to qualify. The SSA uses the current years earning guidelines to determine if you qualify. If you earn too much, you will not qualify.
Your condition is likely to be regarded as severe if it prohibits you from performing basic physical work functions such as standing, sitting or walking, or mental functions, such as reading or learning, for at least 1 year.
Determining if your condition is severe is not required if it is listed on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions.
The type of work you can perform
Your injury or condition could still qualify you for SSDI benefits if it is not considered severe and not on the list of disabling conditions if you are unable to perform your past work.
Sometimes, you might be unable to engage in your previous work, but can still do other type of work. You may not qualify for SSDI benefits if evidence shows you can perform other work.
SSDI benefits help you meet your financial needs while you cannot work, and finding out you have been denied because your condition does not qualify can feel like a major setback. It might be best to have the assistance of an attorney when you apply for benefits.