Social Security Disability (SSD)

What Is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability (SSD) is a government program that helps people who used to work but can’t anymore because of an illness or injury. SSD is a part of the federal Social Security Act, which is the same law that lets retirees get Social Security benefits.

SSD is a part of Social Security benefits in the United States, so almost every worker can get it. You still have to show that you meet two main requirements, though:

  • You must have a health problem that makes it impossible for you to work.
  • You must have worked and paid into Social Security long enough.

How Do I Know if My Medical Condition Will Qualify for SSD Benefits?

You can get SSD benefits for many different kinds of health problems, but the most important thing is that your condition must be bad enough that you can’t work. In the end, the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides if a condition counts. And there are a few conditions that the SSA always considers serious, like kidney disease and some types of cancer. All you need to get benefits is a doctor’s diagnosis.

Most people, though, have a health problem that might not be severe enough to get the benefits. These are what the SSA calls “disabling conditions.” If you have a condition that makes it hard for you to work, you will have to show that it is bad enough to count as a disability. This means having evidence of three main things:

  • Your illness is either potentially fatal or won’t improve for at least a year.
  • You can’t go back to your old job because your illness makes it impossible for you to do it.
  • You can’t do any other kind of work either. For example, if you lost your leg and can’t return to being an emergency room nurse, but you could still work a desk job in hospital administration, you probably wouldn’t be eligible for SSD.

How Much Work History Do I Need to Qualify for SSD?

All workers pay taxes. These taxes pay for Social Security programs. You must have paid into the system for at least ten years to get benefits. Your work history is measured by the SSA in “work credits,” and the basic rules are easy to understand:

  • Your income determines how many work credits you can get. You can get up to four per year.
  • You must have at least 40 work credits to qualify for SSD benefits.
  • At least 20 of those credits must have been earned in the last ten years.

That may sound like a lot, but you may have enough work credits even if you haven’t worked for a while or have only worked part-time.

Even if you don’t have enough work history, you may still be able to get Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is a similar program with similar benefits based on how much money you need.

What Do I Need to Do to Get SSD Benefits?

You must go through the SSA to get benefits. You will be asked to show proof of your medical condition as part of your application. This could be a diagnosis from a doctor, a statement from your doctor about how likely it is that you will be able to go back to work with your condition, or an evaluation by an occupational specialist. Your application will be looked at by the SSA, and you should be aware that many first-time applications are turned down.

You can file an appeal if you don’t get benefits at first. Your denial letter will explain why your application wasn’t accepted. An appeal will allow you to discuss those problems and make a stronger case. You can have a lawyer help you prepare and present your appeal.

You can appeal your case multiple times if you need to. However, the full process can take months, and you wouldn’t get any benefits during that time. This is why it’s so important to send in your best application as soon as you can. A Social Security Disability Lawyer can help you put together a claim or appeal that gives the Social Security Administration (SSA) the proof they need to approve your claim and start giving you benefits.

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