Who is Eligible for SSDI Benefits?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits to individuals who are suffering from a disability or permanent injury that prevents them from working. Fortunately for millions of Americans, our government provides these benefits to people who cannot work and who are eligible for SSDI.

SSDI can be very complicated, especially for those who are considering applying for benefits. While eligibility seems as simple as having a major disability, there are several other factors involved. If you have any questions about SSDI eligibility, you should call us today to speak with a South Carolina SSDI lawyer.

SSDI Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must first have a disability that is defined by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Next, you must have worked long and recently enough to become eligible for benefits.

Specifically, you will have to earn Social Security work credits. Essentially, self-employment income or your total yearly wages can determine your work credits. You can earn up to four work credits every year.

The amount of money you need to accumulate to earn a work credit fluctuates every year. For example, in 2020, you will earn one work credit after receiving $1,410 in income or self-employed wages.

At this rate, if you’ve earned $5,640, you’ve amassed your four work credits for the entire year. The number of work credits you need to become eligible for SSDI benefits depends on your age.

Typically, you’ll need at least 40 credits, 20 of which were earned within the last 10 years from the date of your disability. By earning four credits per year, you would likely need to work at least 10 years to become eligible for SSDI benefits.

However, younger applicants can become eligible with just a few credits.

What is a Disability?

In order to be eligible for SSDI, you need to have a disability recognized by the Social Security Administration. With that said, SSDI benefits are only for people with total disability.

SSDI benefits are not paid out to anyone with short-term or partial disability. The entire point of the program is to support citizens who completely cannot do so themselves. You are considered fully disabled by the SSA if:

  • You cannot perform the work you used to do.
  • The SSA determines that you can’t adjust to any other type of work.
  • Your disability is expected to last at least a year or until your death.

This is a very stringent definition of disability from the SSA. The program’s rules assume that working families have access to other resources to support them in a crisis, such as insurance, savings, investments, and workers’ compensation.

The unfortunate truth is that this just isn’t the case for many families. Hiring a personal injury attorney will ensure that you can collect your fair compensation within a reasonable time frame starting from the date of your injury.

How the SSA Determines Disability

If you are initially eligible for SSDI benefits, such as having the correct number of work credits, the SSA will use a step-by-step process to determine if you have a disability. The process relies on answering five main questions.

1. Are you working?

In 2020, if you’re currently working and averaging more than $1,260 in monthly income, the SSA will not declare you to be disabled. This is because the program will deem that you are fit enough to provide yourself.

This may be questionable, considering that $1,260 is not a living wage in most states, but that’s just the law in this particular instance. If you aren’t working, your application will be sent to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office.

This office will make the final decision regarding your medical condition.

2. Is your medical condition severe?

Your medical condition must be severe enough to limit your capacity to perform basic tasks, such as remembering, lifting, standing, sitting, and walking for at least one year. If you do not meet these criteria, the SSA will not classify your injury as a disability.

3. Is your condition listed by the SSA?

For every major body system, the SSA maintains a list of disabilities. If your medical condition is on the list, it becomes much easier for your application to be accepted. If your medical condition isn’t on the list, then the SSA will have to decide if it’s just as severe as the disabilities found on the list.

If the SSA finds that it is, then you will be deemed disabled. Specifically, the SSA has two initiatives to process new disability claims, such as:

  • Compassionate Allowances – Particular claims that are eligible for disability can be approved as soon as a diagnosis is confirmed. Examples are pancreatic cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), and acute leukemia.
  • Quick Disability Determinations – The SSA utilizes advanced computer screening programs to discover cases with a high possibility of allowance.

4. Can you perform the work you used to do?

The SSA will determine if you are physically and mentally capable of performing the work you used to do. If the determination is made in your favor, they will move on to the next question.

5. Can you perform any other type of work?

If you can’t perform the work you used to do, the SSA will decide if you can perform other work despite your medical condition. The SSA will be considerate of your past work experience, transferable skills, education, and age when making this decision.

If you can’t perform any other type of work, the SSA will decide that you are disabled.

Call Us Today to Speak with a South Carolina SSDI Attorney

Do you have any additional questions regarding SSDI benefits? If so, then you’ve come to the right place. McCravy Law specializes in personal injury cases, and we can help you receive the compensation you deserve.

Whether you’ve submitted a new application to receive SSDI benefits or would like to file an appeal, give us a call today at (864) 388-9100 or contact us online to speak to a member of our legal team and learn more about how we can help you.

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