5 Things You Need to Know About Disability Benefits

Published on: November 20, 2014

Simplify disability paperwork by contacting an experienced disability pro.Benefits from the Social Security Administration’s SSI and SSDI programs provides an essential safety net for thousands of Americans every year. In cases where a disability affects one’s ability to work, or support themselves and their family, these benefits are more than just supplementary sources of income; they’re absolutely necessary to maintain quality of life.

When seeking benefits through the SSA, many applicants find themselves overwhelmed by the various factors, legal terms and medical requirements involved. What affects my eligibility for benefits, and what can I do to improve my chances of getting the benefits I need? What if I am denied benefits? How does the appeal process work?

Getting disability benefits through the SSA doesn’t have to be a challenge. In this blog article, we’ll outline five things you should keep in mind when applying for benefits, as well as what you can do right now to improve you chances when dealing with the SSA.

1.) How the SSA Determines Medical Eligibility

The Social Security Administration makes decisions on disability claims based primarily on medical eligibility, also taking into account the perceived extent of your condition and severity.

If your ability to work is affected by any of the following conditions, and you cannot work, there’s a good chance you can receive full benefits through the SSA:

  • Mental or cognitive disorders
  • Speech impediments
  • Respiratory illness
  • Full or partial blindness
  • Skin disorders
  • Paralysis
  • Neurological disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders

All medical conditions eligible for benefits are listed officially in the SSA’s Blue Book, and in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

2.) The Rules for Family Disability Benefits

For spouses, children or even divorced/widowed spouses of disabled persons, family benefits are possible through the SSDI program. The rules for family benefits follow their own unique set of requirements, and differ between child benefits and spousal benefits.

For a child to receive disability benefits on your behalf, they must be:

  • Unmarried and under age 18, or a full-time high school student under age 19; special rules apply for grandchildren, stepchildren and adopted children
  • Over age 18 and afflicted with a disability that began before age 22

Spouse or widow benefits are a little more complex than child benefits:

  • Spousal benefits will continue even when you become divorced, if you are over age 62 and were married over 10 years
  • Widow benefits will continue even if you remarry, given that you are age 50 or older
  • To get divorced spouse or widowed benefits, you will have had to have been married to the wage earner for at least 10 years

3.) Ways Your Work Affects Disability

When the SSA decides to provide benefits for a disability, they will typically perform two tests to confirm that decision and determine beneficiary amounts; these are the recent work test and duration of work test. In these tests, the SSA will take your age and prior work history into consideration, and gauge your eligibility based on contributions to Social Security in the form of taxes.

Generally, you will have had to work at least 50% of the time leading up to a disability if you are between ages 24 and 31, or at least 5 of the previous 10 years if you are over age 31. For applicants between ages 18 and 24, you are required to have worked at least 1.5 of the 3 years leading to your disability.

For more detailed information on these tests, download our free ebook, “How to Apply for SSDI and SSI Benefits in Florida.”

4.) What to Do When Denied Benefits

In the unfortunate case that you are denied disability benefits by the SSA, don’t give up just yet. If you file a timely appeal, you may still be able to receive benefits.

Generally, you will have up to sixty days following the SSA’s initial determination to appeal your decision; the sooner you act, the better your chances will be (in fact, same-day appeals work best when dealing with disability appeals). During the appeal process, the more supporting information incorporated in your claim, the stronger it will be.

Be sure to include:

  • All relevant medical records, diagnosis and treatment information
  • Any documentation regarding the development or worsening of your condition

5.) Professional Resources to Help You Receive Benefits

Dealing with the Social Security Administration and filing for benefits alone can be a frustrating process. Since poor submission of evidence can cost you your benefits entirely, hiring an experienced disability professional to guide you through the application and appeal process can be essential in getting the benefits you deserve.

Don’t risk losing your benefits by applying or appealing an initial determination on your own. Compassionate disability experts in your state can help you improve your odds and receive the support you need.



Contact Us

New Call-to-action