Published on: September 29, 2014
As if dealing with disabling, psychological or physically limiting conditions wasn’t stressful enough on its own, many of those affected by these circumstances face challenges when applying for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration’s disability program.
With so much riding on the line, from your family’s income and stability to overall quality of life, getting these benefits can be a crucial part of living with devistating impairments. Before you apply for benefits through the SSA, however, how can you be sure your condition will even qualify?
As it turns out, there are a myriad of smaller factors that come into play when disability benefit decisions are made. Merely having an injury or impairment does not guarantee your eligibility for benefits; when applying, you’ll also have to consider how your condition affects your capacity to work, the supporting medical evidence you have and whether or not your condition is officially listed in the SSA’s Blue Book.
The SSA’s Blue Book
The “Blue Book” is essentially the reference guide to what are called listing level impairments. These listings are used by the Social Security Administration to determine what conditions classify as medically disabling without considering other factors. The Blue Book lists disabilities to all major body systems, from neurological and skin disorders to respiratory problems.
However, just having a condition in any of these systems does not guarantee eligibility for benefits. For every disability, there are qualifying requirements applicants must meet to receive benefits. Your condition must not only be listed in the SSA’s Blue Book, it must also be severe enough (with ample supporting evidence) to warrant benefits.
The most effective way of determining whether or not your specific circumstances qualify for benefits is by contacting a disability expert in your area who specializes in these applications.
At Disability Experts of Florida we can help you find your condition in the Blue Book and review eligibility requirements listed within disability categories; there are very specific sets of criteria listed for each individual disability, and getting the benefits you need is often entirely determined by how close you meet those criteria.
Your Condition and Your Work
Even if your condition is officially listed in the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book as a disability, there’s no guaranteeing your eligibility for benefits. To qualify for cash benefits and health insurance through disability, your unique circumstances must significantly inhibit your ability to work in some way.
This is, in essence, the entire point of Social Security disability benefits: they are financial benefits for individuals who are no longer able to sustain competitive work as a result of a severe impairment. Disability cash benefits are intended to fill the void of lost income, which is directly related to an individual's inability to work. When you are unable to work in the same capacity as prior to your disability, you are also unable to earn in that capacity. This is why disability benefits exist.
To be eligible for benefits through the SSA, your condition must actively and tangibly affect your ability to work, and earn income to support yourself and your family. To determine your benefits, the SSA will look into your working history, and contributions to Social Security through taxes throughout your working life; essentially, you’ve been earning your own benefits your entire working history.
This is done through a credit system, taken out of your paychecks in tax form. When deciding your eligibility for benefits, the SSA will typically perform a recent work test and duration of work test to gauge your contributions to Social Security through taxes.
Perceived Length and Severity
Beyond evidence that your condition affects your ability to work, you will also need medical documentation ready when applying for benefits. Programs that offer SSDI and financial support for disability require that conditions be long lasting and severely limiting, noticeably detracting from one’s ability to lead life as they had prior to their disability.
To be eligible for disability benefits, you will need to prove that your condition will last at least one year, and is severe enough to keep you from performing substantial gainful activiety. Broken bones or workplace injuries just won’t cut it; to get benefits, you will need medical documentation, from a reputable professional or organization, stating that your condition will affect your ability to work and lead a normal life for a duration of at least one year.
The best way to prepare all of this information and evidence, and apply for disability benefits through the SSA, is by contacting a professional disability organization in your state. At Disability Experts of Florida we provide free consultations to review the facts of your case. We will provide you with sufficient information to allow for an informed decision concerning the application and appeal process. DEF has over 100 years of combined experience handling applications and we deal directly with the Social Security Administration. We believe this gives our clients with disabilities the best chances for success in receiving benefits.