Social Security Disability — Know the Eligibility Requirements

Nobody wants to be sidelined from their life’s work because of a disability. If illness or injury prevents you from working, it is important that you know your eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. You will need to prove your case and navigate the filing process to land securely in the safety net of the government benefits program.

Do All My Medical Conditions Matter?

When you're applying for Social Security Disability, every medical condition you have can be part of the claim. It may not be the most serious thing that you have, but the combination of all of them can be what renders you disabled. You may have a case where you have one medical problem that's the main problem that's keeping you from working. You also might be an individual that has five or six impairments, none of which on their own will render you disabled, but the combination of all of them is what makes it so you can no longer work. And what we do is, we look at every single thing that you have going on medically, and determine whether or not it can help your case, and show Social Security that you're not able to work anymore.

Definition of Disability

Social Security pays only for total disability. No benefits are payable for partial or short-term disability. Total disability means an inability to work, based on a finding that:

  • You cannot do the work that you did before.
  • You cannot perform other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

The facts of your case will determine whether you meet this threshold of eligibility. When you do, you should be aware that those dependent on you may also be eligible.

Family Members Eligible for Disability Benefits

Once the Social Security Administration approves your disability claim, other family members may also be eligible, including:

  • Your spouse, age 62 or over: Even if they have never worked under Social Security, your spouse may be able to receive benefits if they are at least 62 years of age and you are receiving, or are eligible for, disability benefits.
  • Your spouse, caring for a child: If your spouse is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or who is disabled, they are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
  • Your child, under age 18: Including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if they are younger than age 18, or between 18 and 19 and are unmarried and a full-time student up to grade 12.
  • Your disabled child, age 18 or older: A child, unmarried, who has a disability that started before age 22 is eligible for benefits. Even though these benefits are tied to the parent’s disability, the child’s disability itself must also meet the Social Security Disability criteria.

How Does Social Security Determine if I Am Disabled?

Social Security goes through a five-step process to determine if you're disabled. The first step is they just ask whether or not you're working and how much you're working. If you're working over a certain amount, you can't apply.

The second question is, they look at the impairments that you have and determine whether or not they're severe. Most impairments, if they affect your ability to work in any way, will be considered severe.

The third step is do you meet a listing. Social security has actual listing of impairments where they have a certain disorder, and they have a checklist of things you need to have in order to be considered disabled. These are very hard to meet because they're so detailed, and most people are not found disabled on a listing.

The fourth step is they look at whether or not you can do your past work due to your impairment. If you can't do your past work, then it goes to the last step, which is can you do any other work. And if you can't do any other work in a full-time basis because of your impairment, you'll be found disabled.

Now this process is fairly straight forward; however, it takes a lot of medical evidence and a lot of vocational evidence and a lot of hearing experience in order to prove to social security that you meet this five-step process. That's why, if you're seeking disability benefits, you should give us a call.

What if I'm Still Working? Am I Eligible for SSD?

Related information on Social Security Disability claims in Maryland

Seek reliable legal advice from our experienced Maryland lawyers today

Located in Maryland, the attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. are experienced in Social Security Disability eligibility criteria, claims, denials and appeals. We are available 24/7 and welcome the opportunity to speak to you. Contact us today.