Social Security Disability

What Do I Need to Know Before Applying for Disability Benefits?

If a serious illness or injury has left you disabled and unable to work, you’ve likely considered applying for Social Security disability benefits. This program allows you to tap into the Social Security you’ve earned over the course of your career and continue to meet your financial obligations while you are disabled. Before you begin this application process, make sure you know what to expect from it and what the possible outcomes are.

Looking for more personalized assistance with your disability application? Baker & Baker can guide you through this process. Set up a consultation with our team now by calling us at 850-433-0888.

Your Medical Condition Must Last at Least a Year

The Social Security Administration has strict requirements for what is considered a qualifying disability. To receive benefits, your condition must have already lasted at least one year, be expected to last at least one year, or be expected to result in your death. This is not a situation for short-term or temporary conditions.

Beyond that, there are strict qualifications regarding covered disabilities. The Social Security “Blue Book” is a good starting point, showing you what types of criteria that you may have to meet to get benefits for your condition.

You Have to Meet Specific Work Requirements

Your disabling condition is only one part of SSDI qualifications. You must also have enough recent work experience to tap into your benefits. You earn credits with the SSA by working and paying into the Social Security system. Each year, you can earn a maximum of four credits. Each credit is worth a specific amount that changes each year.

To receive SSDI benefits, you must meet the credit requirements for your age range. For those who are older than 31, you will likely need no fewer than 20 credits in the 10 years prior to your disability. Those who become disabled at a later age generally need 40 credits, and those who become disabled at a younger age need fewer credits. You can track your earned credits through the Social Security Administration.

The SSA Will Analyze Your Life in Detail

You should expect to have the SSA analyze every part of your life as they determine whether or not you should receive SSDI benefits. Many people enter this process thinking it’s just a matter of proving your disability and showing your work credits, but they’ll look into everything—including how you spend your spare time.

They’ll want to know how your disability has kept you from meeting other obligations in your life, such as taking care of your children or keeping up with housework. This may feel like a violation of privacy, but it’s an important part of proving the legitimacy of your disabling condition.

You May Be Expected to Work in a Different Capacity

Proving that you are unable to work in your current field is a significant part of applying for Social Security disability benefits. Even if you prove that you cannot work in your current position or career path, you may still be expected to work.

In some cases, the SSA will analyze your ability to work and the accommodations you need. If they find that it’s unreasonable for you to continue in your current job, they may check to see if your limitations allow you to work in a different role. This could mean a shift in career goals and earning potential, so it’s important to be prepared for this possible outcome.

The Process is Long

You have likely already heard this from others who have applied for SSDI, but be prepared—it takes a long time to apply for SSDI and get approved. You’ll need to gather a significant amount of medical evidence, wait for them to get to your application, and possibly go through the appeals process after getting denied. It’s important to stay positive, work on improving your application, and use the resources available to you.

Find Out How Baker & Baker Can Help You

If you’re frustrated by the application process or your SSDI application has been denied, the team at Baker & Baker can help demystify this process for you. Schedule a consultation now by getting in touch online or calling us at 850-433-0888.

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