If a medical problem is preventing you from working, you might be entitled to benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA provides financial help to those who have worked enough within a certain period of time. You should expect the SSA to spend several months dealing with your application before you get the results. While awaiting the results, it might be helpful to find out what is happening to your application while in the hands of the SSA. Read on for an overview of the process, step by step.
Checking Your Work Credits
As mentioned above, you can only be approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) if you have made the minimum amount of money within the last few years. The SSA calls the income you earn work credits. The number of work credits you need to qualify for benefits depends on your age. If you are blind or under the age of 30, there are special rules about work credits. If you don't have enough work credits to qualify, you might still qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which uses your assets and income instead of work credits to determine eligibility.
Checking Your Medical Impairment
The next step is to qualify medically. You must have an illness that makes it impossible to do the work of your most recent job. You should not be employed when you apply for benefits since that might be a violation of SGA rules (see more about SGA below). Most all physical and mental impairments are recognized by the SSA but proving the severity of the problem can be difficult. The SSA takes a close look at your medical evidence (records, test results, doctor's notes) to ensure that you:
- Are afflicted with a disorder.
- Exhibit symptoms that align with their guidelines for disability.
- Have symptoms that prevent you from performing the specific tasks of your most recent job.
Checking Your Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
This check ensures that you are not financially or physically able to do your job anymore. If you are able to work, the SSA is not likely to approve you for benefits. This can be unfortunate since being unemployed while waiting for benefits is a challenge. If you can work at a job that is similar to your last job, you might not need benefits.
This process is not just slow but often results in a denial of benefits. If you are denied for social security insurance, speak to a Social Security lawyer about your case and about your appeal.