Are you struggling to work because of a medical condition? Are you wondering what benefits are out there? Have you thought about applying for social security disability benefits? If you answered yes to any of those questions the social security disability program may be right for you. Applying for social security disability benefits can be a long and complicated process. Knowing your chances of winning before applying will help you determine if this is the path you want to head down or not. By answering a few questions below we can help assist you in determining the strength of your case as well as whether it is worth applying for the program to begin with.
1. Are you currently working?
If you answered no proceed to question number 2. If you answered yes to this question you must then consider how much you are earning per month. If your monthly gross earnings exceed $1,350 per month you are not eligible for disability benefits. If your earnings are less than $1,350 per month you may proceed to question number 2.
2. Do you have a severe physical and/or mental impairment that prevents you from working?
If you answered yes then proceed to question number 3. The reason you are not working, or your earnings are less than $1,310 per month, must be due to your physical and or mental conditions. If the reason you are not working is unrelated to your medical conditions, such as being laid off or the company closing, you will not be considered a disability for the purposes of social security disability. The social security disability system is not meant to be a substitute for unemployment benefits or even short-term disability benefits. Your medical condition must keep you from performing any work in the national economy for a minimum of twelve months or be expected to result in death.
3. Have you worked during the past 15 years?
To be eligible for social security disability insurance benefits you must have paid a certain amount into the social security system. The social security system is basically a federally run insurance program. Similar to private insurance, for you to have the ability to receive benefits you must pay a premium for the insurance coverage. In this situation, your premium represents the taxes you pay on your working income into the social security system. Once you have paid enough into the social security system you will have insurance coverage. The general rule of thumb is that if you have paid taxes on your working income for the past five out of ten years, you will have disability insurance that will cover you assuming you meet the disability qualifications.
If you have not paid taxes into the social security system for the past five out of ten years you likely do not have disability insurance coverage. Thus, you should not apply for the program. However, there is another type of disability program you may qualify for called the supplemental security income or SSI program. The SSI program is similar to a federal welfare system in that to meet the initial qualifications you must have a very limited financial profile. An assessment of your financial situation will be done by the social security administration. If they deem you meet the financial qualifications then you may apply for the SSI program. This type of analysis must be done directly with your local social security office.
4. Are you currently taking prescription medications?
Answering yes or no to this question does not disqualify you from receiving disability benefits, like the first question. Whether you are taking prescription medications or not simply goes towards the strength of your claim. For example, good evidence of a severe condition would be that if you are being prescribed psychiatric medications, and your symptoms continue to persist. Or if you are taking pain medications and your pain level is still severe in the range of 7/10 or higher. This type of example shows that you are following the medical treatment recommended by your doctor but your conditions continue to be severe.
5. Are you currently treating with a medical provider?
If you answered yes to the question above then likely you are receiving treatment from a medical provider. Again, answering no to this question does not disqualify you. Not receiving treatment from a medical provider will only make your application for disability benefits that much harder. To prove you are disabled, social security will review your medical records to see your diagnosed medical conditions along with the resulting symptoms and limitations. Without medical evidence, it will be harder to prove how your medical conditions prevent you from working.
6. Are you over the age of 50?
Similarly, this question does not disqualify you from receiving benefits. The only age where you will not be able to receive disability benefits is if you have reached full retirement age as of the date you are alleging you became disabled. Otherwise, anyone younger than full retirement age as of the alleged disability onset date may qualify for benefits. However, if you are age 50+, proving you meet the qualifications of social security disability benefits becomes a little bit easier. There are exceptions to the qualifications based upon age, past work, and your functional abilities.
Applying for social security disability benefits is not an easy thing to do. The questions above are only a few considerations social security will review when determining your eligibility. At the LaBovick Law Group, we have helped thousands of disabled individuals receive benefits from the social security administration. We know how difficult this process can be, especially when you have never dreamed you would be in a position where you would need to apply for benefits from the government. We are here to help. Call us today at (561) 625-8400 with the answers to the quiz above. We will provide you with a free consultation about your eligibility for the program and whether applying is the right step for you.