Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits if:
- You suffer from a severe physical and/or mental impairment.
- Your medical condition is expected to provide significant limitations for 12 months or more.
- Your medical condition prevents you from earning more than $1,180 gross per month.
You have likely heard someone somewhere along the way discussing social security disability benefits. It is even more likely you have heard of social security retirement. Both programs are managed by the social security administration. Both programs require mandatory involvement through filing taxes on your earned income. However, these programs differ significantly in terms of qualification. To qualify for retirement, you simply need to age into the program. What this means is that once you hit a certain age, you may automatically begin receiving retirement benefits. This is a huge contrast to the disability program. To qualify for disability benefits, you must prove you suffer from a physical and/or mental impairment that affects your ability to work.
There are several reasons an individual should apply for disability benefits, with the top three reasons being that you suffer from a severe medical condition; your condition is expected to last 12 months or longer, or your condition prevents you from working and earning more than $1,070 per month in gross earnings. If you fall into one or all of these categories, the disability program may be the right fit for you.
1. You suffer from a severe physical and/or mental impairment.
Being diagnosed with a medical condition is simply not enough to cross the threshold of being found disabled in terms of social security. When considering if one is disabled, the social security administration (SSA) will look to the severity of your medical condition. The general rule of thumb is the more severe your condition is the more likely your condition affects your ability to work. Social security requires an individual to show that he or she has a medical condition that significantly limits his or her physical or mental ability to perform basic work activities. Basic work activities are those activities that are used to complete most jobs. Your medical condition(s) must be severe enough that it significantly limits your ability to perform those basic work activities.
It is up to you, the individual, to prove you suffer from a severe physical and/or mental impairment. The main way to prove you have a severe impairment is through medical treatment. If you lack medical treatment for your condition, the SSA will either rubber-stamp deny your case, or, in some cases, they will send you for an evaluation by an independent medical examiner. In this situation, only certain conditions will qualify you for disability without medical treatment. For instance, if you suffer from depression, but lack medical treatment, an independent examination will likely not be enough to prove your condition is disabling. the reason being is that mental health conditions fluctuate on a daily basis. The day you presented for your evaluation may have been a really bad day or it may have been a pretty good day. The best evidence to prove a mental health condition is through consistent treatment and therapy with a medical provider to show a trend of ups and downs in your condition, even with treatment. However, some conditions do not require this same “trend” of treatment such as muscular dystrophy. A simple examination including physical strength testing would be sufficient to prove your physical capabilities. If you lack medical treatment for your condition, before applying for social security disability, seek guidance from an experienced disability attorney. They will be able to advise whether it is worth your time and effort applying for the program or if it is better to wait and buildup evidence before submitting an application.
Some of the most common medical conditions used to apply for disability benefits include:
- Auto-Immune Disorders (i.e., rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, lupus)
- Back Pain
- Mental illness (i.e., bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, PTSD)
- Chronic Pain (i.e., fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic pain syndrome)
- Digestive Disorders (i.e., inflammatory bowel syndrome)
- Heart Conditions (i.e., coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia)
- Neurological Disorders (i.e., brain injury, narcolepsy, seizure disorder, MS, stroke)
- Orthopedic Conditions (i.e., osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome)
- Respiratory illness (i.e., asthma, COPD, emphysema)
If you have received consistent recent medical treatment for one of these disorders, you should consider applying for social security disability.
2. Your medical condition is expected to provide significant limitations for 12 months or more.
To be found disabled, you must meet the durational requirement. The durational requirement is met if you can show your severe physical and/or mental impairment prevents you from working and is expected to last 12 months or result in death. This 12-month requirement starts counting at your alleged onset date (the date you are alleging you became unable to work). To apply for disability, you do not necessarily need to have been out of work for 12 months. You need to show that your severe impairment is expected to last 12 months resulting in an ability to work.
This 12-month requirement is vastly different from private disability programs wherein you may only need to show you are unable to work for a 3-month time frame. Social security disability is not a short-term disability program. It is meant to provide a safety net for those individuals whose conditions are likely to last a year or more. People are often frustrated by this requirement from the SSA. First, you are forced to pay into a disability fund. Then, before you are able to receive the benefits for which you paid, you must show you are out of work for 12 months.
12 months is a significant amount of time to go without receiving any financial support. As you can imagine, most people struggle financially through this time, with some being forced into bankruptcy or even becoming homeless. How is that fair when you have paid a premium for this insurance, which again you did not have a choice to enroll in? While we may agree the system is not fair, it is important to know what the requirements are for the program so you may plan accordingly. The worst thing that can happen is that you plan on receiving these disability benefits only to find out when you need them that you do not qualify due to the 12-month requirement. If you only take away one thing from this article, we hope it is that the disability program requires you to show you are out of work for 12 months (or will be expected to be out of work for 12 months).
3. Your medical condition prevents you from earning more than $1,180 gross per month.
Social security has determined that if an individual is earning a certain salary per month, they will be considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). If an individual is engaging in SGA, they will not be eligible for the payment of disability benefits. The monthly SGA amount for 2018 is $1,180. If your condition prevents you from working and earning more than $1,180 per month, you should consider applying for social security disability benefits.
If you suffer from a severe physical and/or mental impairment, your medical condition is expected to provide significant limitations for 12 months or more, and/or your medical condition prevents you from earning more than $1,180 gross per month, you may qualify for the social security disability program. Contact LaBovick Law Group& Diaz for a free case evaluation today.