How Do I Get Social Security Disability?

August 31, 2018

If you are unable to work due to a serious illness or impairment, then you may be wondering how you can get Social Security Disability benefits and what to expect during the process. For many, the application process can seem like a daunting prospect because while millions of Americans may apply each year, only about one-third of applications are initially approved.

Generally speaking, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays monthly benefits to people who are not able to work for a year or longer due to a disability. It is important for you, as an applicant, to understand how the process works, who qualifies, and what the Social Security Administration consider a disability, if you hope to have a successful application.

First of all, you must have worked long enough and recently enough under the Social Security system in order to qualify for benefits. The SSA determines who qualifies based on work credits, which are awarded based on wages or self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year, with one credit earned per $1,320 in earnings (in 2018, but the exact amount changes from year to year). The number of work credits needed to qualify depends on your age, but is generally 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last ten years, while younger workers can qualify with less credits.

Second, it is important to understand how the SSA defines disability, because they only pay for total disability, with no benefits for partial disability or short-term disabilities. They consider someone disabled under Social Security rules if they cannot do the work they did before, cannot adjust to other work, and the disability is expected to last one year or longer or will result in death.

Furthermore, in order to qualify for disability benefits, an applicant cannot be engaging in “substantial gainful activity,” which basically means working and earning more than $1,180 per month. One mistake that applicants make is to continue working full-time right up until they file for benefits. Another complication can be collecting unemployment insurance while you aren’t working since you are essentially telling unemployment that you are willing and able to work but telling Social Security that you aren’t able and are in need of disability.

Finally, it is important that you gather a wide-range of your medical documents in order to provide a full picture of your medical condition and why you are unable to work. In those records, the SSA is also looking for the fact that you receive medical care regularly and recently for your condition. This helps to establish the severity and how it has impacted your ability to work.

While many applications are denied because the individual doesn’t qualify based on the income or long-term disability requirements outlined above, another 28 percent of applicants were denied because the impairment was considered “not severe,” and 31 percent because an applicant was considered to be able to do other kinds of work.

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits can be a stressful and difficult process, and one that will take a surprising amount of work. This situation becomes all the more challenging when you and your family’s finances are hanging in the balance when you are unable to work and waiting to hear back regarding your application or appeal.

One way to streamline your process or to help ensure that your appeal is ultimately approved is to work with an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The team at Fears Nachawati has helped many Texans to receive the disability benefits that they were entitled to due to disability. We offer a free, no obligation consultation in order to discuss the specifics of your needs and how we can be of help to you.

Contact us today at (866) 705-7584 to schedule your appointment at one of our Texas offices in Houston, Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, or San Antonio.

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