If you have a severe illness or injury that keeps you from working to support yourself, you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. A Prairie Township, OH, social security disability (SSD) lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible and go after benefits.
You can call Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400 for a free consultation.
There are two types of Social Security disability benefits—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
An Overview of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
Social Security Disability Insurance is the benefit that you fund with the payroll deductions from your wages. When you have worked long enough at jobs that pay into the Social Security system, you might be eligible for SSDI if you become disabled, but there are several additional requirements.
You must have enough “work credits” to qualify for SSDI benefits because SSDI is an insurance program. If you do not carry homeowner’s insurance and your house burns down, you cannot collect insurance benefits. Similarly, you must have enough work credits for your age when you became disabled to get SSDI benefits.
The younger you are, the fewer work credits you need because you have not had as much time as an older worker to amass credits. You earn one work credit for every quarter (three-month block) that you make at least the minimum amount required at a job that pays Social Security taxes, including self-employment. You can get up to four work credits per year.
What Counts as a Disability
People use the term “disabled” frequently in everyday conversation. The Social Security Administration (SSA) does not define a disability in the same way that most people do. Your situation must meet a strict definition, which has three parts:
- You can no longer perform the required tasks of your job.
- Your medical conditions prevent you from adjusting to a different type of work.
- Your disability has existed for at least one year, or the doctor expects the condition to endure for at least one year or to be terminal.
The purpose of Social Security disability benefits is to provide support for long-term disabilities. We can help you if you have any questions. Reach out at (412) 661-1400.
For a free legal consultation with a lawyer serving Prairie Township, call (412) 661-1400
The Five Questions to Evaluate Disability
If you have enough work credits, the SSA will ask you five questions to determine whether your situation qualifies for disability benefits. The questions are:
- If you are working, do your earnings exceed the limit for Social Security disability benefits? In the year 2020, your average earnings cannot exceed $1,260 a month ($2,110 if statutorily blind). If you earn more than the earnings limit, the SSA will rule that you are not disabled.
- Does your condition substantially interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related tasks, like standing, sitting, walking, remembering and concentrating? If the answer is yes, the SSA will go to the next question. If the answer is no, the SSA will deny your application for benefits.
- Does your medical condition meet the severity tests of the Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book? The SSA has a detailed list of every impairment they consider severe enough to keep a person from working. The Blue Book organizes the list by body system, like Respiratory Disorders or Cardiovascular System.
- Does your medical condition keep you from performing any job you have held in the last 15 years? If you could work at a job by doing a job you held in the past, the SSA will say that you are not disabled.
- Is there any other type of work that you can do to support yourself? If you can earn more than the earnings limit by going into a new line of work, the SSA will rule against your application. Beyond a certain age, however, the SSA will not require you to start a new career unless your past work gave you skills that can be applied to a new job.
If you have enough work credits and pass all five questions, you are likely to be eligible for SSDI benefits.
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How Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Differs from SSDI
If you meet the SSA requirements of disability and have little income and few assets, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI benefits do not require work credits, so people who do not have a strong work record at jobs that paid into the Social Security system might be eligible for SSI. Also, it is possible to collect both SSDI and SSI benefits, but you must qualify separately for each program.
The SSI is a safety net to prevent disabled or aged people in unfortunate circumstances from being entirely destitute.
If a person has low enough income and resources to qualify for SSI, the individual probably also qualifies for additional government assistance to help pay for shelter, food, utilities, and medical care. Whatever income you have or cash benefits you receive from other programs will reduce the amount of your SSI check.
SSI benefits tend to pay fewer dollars than SSDI benefits. General tax revenues fund the SSI program. Social Security taxes taken out of paychecks pay for SSDI, not SSI.
How a Lawyer Can Help With Your Social Security Disability Claim
The SSA does not require you to work with a lawyer on your Social Security disability benefits application, but it can be a smart decision to do so. The SSA has strict rules with little wiggle room. The Blue Book contains highly technical medical terminology that many people outside of the medical field do not understand.
Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits is a multi-step process. If you miss a deadline or misunderstand what the SSA requires of you, the SSA can deny your application. Many people have to fight through appeals and hearings to get the benefits they deserve.
The social security disability lawyers in Prairie Township, OH, at Berger and Green can help with your application or appeal. You can call us today at (412) 661-1400 for a free consultation.