The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits to certain individuals who cannot work because of an illness or injury. If approved, you can receive monthly payments to help cover your living expenses. The benefits are valuable and are only available to those who truly need financial support. As such, the SSA goes through an application process that includes strict regulations regarding eligibility. The rules on how to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI) are complex, and they may vary greatly depending upon your unique circumstances. An SSDI lawyer in Tacoma can provide specific details, but you should be aware of the various factors that affect eligibility for benefits.
Your Work History
Because SSDI is a type of insurance, you need to have a work history of paying into Social Security through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Your history is measured by work credits, which you accrue on an annual basis; you can earn up to four per year. The exact amount you’ll need to qualify for SSDI depends upon:
- Your age when you became disabled;
- The total number of years you worked; and,
- The number of years you worked out of the last 10 years.
The Nature of Your Medical Condition
You must suffer from a disability that prevents you from working entirely or restricts what you can do – which, in turn, limits what you earn. The first threshold for a disabling medical condition is being diagnosed with a condition that meets an illness or injury appearing on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, i.e., the Blue Book. You could also be eligible if your condition results in symptoms that equal an item on the Listing.
Your Level of Physical Activity
It can be very difficult to meet or equal the strict requirements on the SSA’s Blue Book, but that doesn’t mean your claim for benefits will be denied. You can still qualify for SSDI if you have a medical condition that:
- Prevents you from earning an income through substantial gainful activity (SGA);
- Is medically diagnosable by your doctor; and,
- Is expected to last more than a year or is terminal.
Your Earned Income
In some situations, your medical condition may allow you to do some work, but at a lower level than before you were injured or developed an illness. The income you earn may affect your eligibility, but the impact depends upon your SGA described above. The SGA threshold for 2019 is $1,220 for most disabilities and $2,040 for applicants who are blind. If you make less than the applicable amounts per month, you can still receive SSDI benefits up to the SGA amount. Therefore, you still qualify, but for a lesser amount.
Discuss SSDI Qualifications with a Knowledgeable Disability Attorney
If you have questions about eligibility for SSDI benefits, please contact our Tacoma SSDI lawyers at Alliance Law Group to set up a consultation. We can tell you more about how to qualify after reviewing your work history, medical details, and other issues that affect the application process. Mistakes can be costly, but you can avoid delays or denials by having a lawyer’s help from the start.