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The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as an inability to perform “substantial gainful activity.” In other words, to qualify for disability benefits in the United Stated, you must be in the position where you can’t return to your current job, obtain other work because of your condition, or have a disability that has lasted, or will last, for one year.
Heart failure, blindness, multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, schizophrenia, HIV/AIDS, lupus, chronic kidney disease, and terminal cancer can all be qualifiers for disability benefits. It’s important to note that having one of these conditions doesn’t automatically mean you’re approved.
Each condition has its own set of criteria that you must meet before the SSA will consider your condition disabling. For example, even if a doctor diagnoses you with lupus, you must be able to prove that your lupus is severe enough to prevent you from working, that it will last 12 months or longer, or that it will lead to death.
Even if your impairment isn’t on the SSA’s list, it’s still possible to receive benefits if your condition meets all three requirements: It is severe, lasts 12 months or longer (or results in death), and prevents you from working. The amount you receive from Social Security disability benefits is dependent on your average earnings over your lifetime. Of course, only earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes will count towards your average. The Social Security Administration pays these benefits monthly.
If you are wrongfully denied Social Security benefits, it’s possible to appeal the decision. However, this is best done with the help of a lawyer. The multiple levels of the disability appeals process can be confusing and daunting. For most people, only the first few steps, reconsideration, and a hearing before an administrative law judge are required. In some cases, though, the Social Security Appeals Council may review your case or a lawsuit may be filed in federal court. When in doubt, it’s best to have an attorney help you with your case to ensure that the proper steps are followed.
If you have more questions about social security disability insurance and the application process, check out our frequently-asked-questions here.
If you think you may have a potential social security claim, or would like to speak to someone about your situation, don’t hesitate to give us a call at 214-484-1930.