If you are unable to work because of a disabling condition, you might qualify for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The first step in qualifying for SSDI is to complete and file an application with the SSA. The application process for disability benefits can be complicated. Working with a California SSDI attorney from the beginning of the process can help avoid some of the issues and errors that often cause applications to be delayed or denied.
Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one of the two disability programs operated by the SSA. The program is intended to provide income for workers who become disabled. There are several qualifications that a worker must meet to become eligible to receive SSDI benefits. Those qualifications include:
- You must have worked long enough in jobs covered by Social Security to earn the required work credits to qualify for SSDI. An employee can earn up to four work credits each year. The number of work credits an individual must have to qualify for SSDI depends on several factors, including their age.
- You must be totally disabled to qualify for SSDI. You may be considered disabled if you cannot perform the work you did before; your medical condition does not allow you to perform other work; and, your disability results in a terminal condition or is expected to last for at least one year.
The SSA has strict guidelines to determine whether you are totally disabled. For example, if you are currently working an earn more than $1,220 (as of 2019), the SSA typically does not consider you to be totally disabled.
However, if you are not working, the SSA will evaluate your SSDI application based on other factors, such as:
- Is your condition considered severe?
- Does your condition limit your ability to work by affecting your ability to sit, stand, remember, lift, or walk?
- Does your condition appear in the SSA Blue Book (a list of medical conditions the SSA considers severe enough to prevent a person from working)? If so, does your condition meet the specific requirements listed in the Blue Book to rise to the level of total disability?
- Can you perform any other type of work that would earn a minimum level of income?
- Do you qualify for special consideration because you are blind?
If the SSA determines that you may be disabled, it will send your application to the DSS (Disability Determination Services) office in your state to complete the disability decision. Disability specialists and doctors review your medical records and information provided with your application. You might be sent for further evaluation to a doctor used by the SSA to gather additional information.
If your SSDI application is denied, there are several ways to appeal the denial of disability benefits. However, you must act quickly to protect your right to appeal a denial of disability benefits. It is typically a wise step to consult with a disability attorney immediately to review your options for pursuing a SS disability claim.
Contact a California SSDI Attorney for More Information
Being unable to work is frightening and frustrating. Dealing with the SSA can also be a frustrating and overwhelming experience. The SSDI application process can be lengthy and complicated. A simple error on the forms can delay your claim, meaning you do not receive the benefits you need when you need them.
A California SSDI attorney can help you complete the disability paperwork and work to prevent errors or issues from arising that could result in a denial of benefits. Let our office help you get the disability benefits you are entitled to receive by law. Contact us today.