Social Security Disability benefits can be exactly what you need when you have a disability that prevents you from working.
The time between applying for your benefits and waiting to hear if you are approved can be stressful. It helps to know what factors the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) considers when determining if you have qualifying disability that entitles you to benefits.
Your work status
The first factor has nothing to do with your disability itself, but rather your work history. You must be not working or working but not performing any substantial gainful activity.
A substantial gainful activity is generally defined as doing work that involves significant physical and/or mental activity. If you are working, your earnings must also be under a certain amount.
The severity of your injury
When it comes to your disability, it must be severe. This typically means it prevents you from performing basic tasks for at least 12 months.
The tasks can be physical, such as standing, lifting or bending, or mental, such as remembering information.
The SSA has a list of conditions that are automatically considered severe. If your condition is not on this list, it does not mean you will not be approved; it just means the SSA will likely analyze your condition a little more to see if it qualifies as severe.
Your ability to work
Finally, the SSA will assess if you can do the type of work that you did before or any other type of work. If you can still do your previous type of work, you are not likely to qualify for SSD benefits.
In situations where you cannot perform your previous type of work, the SSA will examine factors such as your age, skills, education and prior work history to determine if there is any other type of work you could do that involves a substantial gainful activity.
You could be denied benefits if the SSA concludes that your disability is not a qualifying disability. However, you can appeal that decision if you disagree with it, and there are professionals out there who can help.