The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides Social Security disability benefits to qualified individuals who are considered disabled by the federal government. These benefits may be provided under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program or the Supplemental Security Insurance program.
Who Is Considered Disabled?
All individuals applying for disability benefits under the SSDI program or SSI program will be evaluated under the same rules of disability. By law, disability is defined as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
The 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process for Assessing Disability:
- Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): Whether you are working and if so, your average earnings per month. If your average monthly income is above the threshold (which changes and is set yearly), you are not considered disabled.
- Severity of Your Medical Condition: Next, the SSA evaluates the medical severity of your impairments. If your condition does not significantly limit your ability to undertake the most basic of work requirements, such as sitting or focusing, you are not considered disabled.
- Meeting a Listing: The SSA maintains a Listing of medical impairments that are so severe that an individual is found to be disabled if his/her condition matches the criteria outlined in the Listing.
- Ability to Undertake Previous Work: If you are able to perform any past relevant work, you are not disabled.
- Ability to Undertake Other Kinds of Work: If your impairment prevents you from the type of work you did previously, the review of your medical condition will look at whether or not you can do any other type of work. The SSA will review factors such as your age, education, skills, work experience, and current impairment.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability
Before your claim will be evaluated based on the severity of your medical condition, there are more basic requirements you must meet in order for your claim to move forward. A technical denial means the individual was determined to be ineligible for SSD based on basic eligibility requirements. Claims ending with a technical denial are not reviewed for medical eligibility and technical denials cannot usually be appealed. Technical denials of SSD claims usually indicates the individual is not considered “insured” by Social Security Disability Insurance for not having accumulated enough social security credits.
To be considered insured, you need to have accumulated enough “credits” during your working years, with a set amount of those units needing to come in recent years. The number of required credits depends on your age at the time you become disabled. Social Security credits are based on your total wages and self-employment income during the year, regardless of when the work was performed.
An individual can earn up to four credits each year though the amount of income required to earn a credit changes each year. For 2016, you earn a credit for $1,260 in income. Once you’ve earned four times that much ($5,040), you have earned your full four credits for the year.
The Lee Steinberg Law Firm Can Help
The attorneys at The Lee Steinberg Law Firm can significantly increase your odds of success in your Social Security Disability claim. We see many clients who could have saved themselves months of frustration and waiting if only they had sought the assistance of an experienced Michigan Social Security attorney while completing their initial application for benefits. Not only can we help you understand the different ways of applying for benefits, but we will also fight hard on your behalf throughout the difficult process.
Whether you are inquiring into your eligibility for benefits, beginning the process of filing a claim, or have already been denied, we can help.
We have a long history of winning cases and significant financial compensation for our clients. Contact our offices at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) or fill out the Free Case Evaluation Form to get started with a free consultation. As always, you pay nothing until we settle your Social Security Disability case.
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If you receive an unfavorable determination – in other words, if you have been denied of the initial application – you can give us a call and we will conduct an intake with you over the telephone or in person, and make a determination of whether we are in a position to take on your claim. If we are in a position to take on your claim, we will file a request for a hearing to see an administrative law judge. The average wait time at this point for an administrative law hearing is between 14-18 months, depending on the jurisdiction and where you live.