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Who qualifies for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Have you just been injured and are unable to work? Are you worried about the ability to pay your bills? For individuals who have a medical condition that prevents he or she from working for a year or more, there may be help for you. Social Security Disability benefits are available to those who meet certain qualifications.

Beyond having a disability, an applicant must have worked in a job that is covered by Social Security. A potential applicant must have worked long enough and recent enough to qualify for benefits. These benefits are based on an individual’s total yearly wages or self-employment income.

A maximum of four credits can be earned each year. The number of work credits that are necessary to qualify for disability varies depending on the year of disability and the age of the applicant. In general, an applicant needs 40 credits. Twenty of the credits must have been earned within the last 20 years.

Social Security Disability benefits are only paid when an individual is totally disabled. No partial disability or short-term disability payments are made with this program. The definition of disability is focused on whether an individual is able to maintain employment. All applicants to the Social Security Administration must pass a five-step analysis.

First, it will be determined if the person is working. Second, the severity of the condition will be determined. Third, is the applicant’s injury found on the list of disabling conditions? Fourth, can the applicant continue the work he or she did previously? Lastly, it will be determined whether any other type of work could be performed.

Once this analysis is completed, the Administration renders a decision. Applicants may utilize the services of an attorney to help secure these benefits. When an individual seeks this type of benefit, it is important they are aware of their rights, the process and all of their options.

Source: The Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: How You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits,” assessed on Jan. 12, 2015


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