The most important qualification for Social Security Disability benefits is that you can’t work—at all—because of health problems.
Your exact diagnosis can be many things. Social Security maintains a large list of impairments that can qualify for benefits.
But even if your medical condition isn’t on the list, you can qualify if your symptoms are severe enough to severely limit your functioning.
The key is providing the medical records that show you can’t work.
An experienced disability lawyer can look at your individual situation and let you know your options.Learn More
Yes. Mental health conditions that prevent you from working can qualify you for Social Security Disability. Disability benefits are not only for physical ailments.
Social Security’s official list of qualifying impairments includes anxiety, bi-polar disorder, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and many others.
You can also combine mental health conditions with other health problems to create a strong claim for benefits. At Wells, Manning, Eitenmiller & Taylor, we talk to many Oregonians whose mental health challenges form all or part of their disability claims.More about Qualifying
These are two different disability programs run by Social Security. They both provide financial assistance when you can’t work because of serious health problems. But the eligibility rules are different for each one when it comes to your work history, income and financial resources.
SSDI covers you if you’ve worked a substantial amount recently and paid enough into the Social Security system, but you can’t work now. The monthly checks you receive under SSDI are based on a formula including your recent income and can be larger than what you get from SSI.
SSI can cover you if you have not worked and paid a substantial amount into Social Security in several years. To be eligible for SSI, your income, savings and property must fall below certain levels. The monthly payment is a national amount—the same for everyone—set by Social Security.More about SSI
It is possible to collect both kinds of disability benefit at once under certain circumstances.
You could get SSI, for example, if your SSDI payments are low enough.
Some people who qualify for SSDI also receive SSI assistance to cover a gap in benefits.
Social Security requires a five-month wait from the time you are officially declared to have a qualifying disability to the time when you receive benefits. When your financial resources are low during those five months, you could get SSI pay for that period, even when you’ve been approved for SSDI.
It can. Social Security looks at many factors affecting whether you can work, including your age.
When you’re younger and you experience a health problem that sidelines you from your current job, Social Security might decide that you still have the time and ability to adapt to a different, less strenuous job. So you can’t get disability benefits.
When you’re over 50, Social Security is more likely to conclude you can’t work at all because you can’t continue in your most recent job or be able to retrain and switch to a different one.
To make sure Social Security clearly understands your situation, work with an experienced disability lawyer.Learn More.
The goal of Social Security Disability is to provide financial support when you can’t work. So if you’re working, that can disqualify you from getting benefits.
But you might feel like you have to work, even a little bit, to put food on the table.
It is possible to get benefits and work as long as the amount you work and earn stays below a certain level set by Social Security.
Also, when you’ve already been receiving benefits, Social Security has a program that allows you to return to work on a trial basis and keep your benefits while you explore whether you’re able to return to working permanently.
You can apply for Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) benefits online. You can also apply over the phone or in person at a Social Security office if the office is open to the public.
Applying involves filling out forms and gathering documents like medical records for Social Security.
If you work with a disability attorney, your attorney can make sure your application is complete and gets filed correctly.
You have to apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits by phone or at a Social Security office.
A disability lawyer can also help you with SSI benefits.Get Help Applying
You should apply for disability benefits immediately after you realize that you can’t work because of your health.
Social Security will make you wait five months from the date that it determines you first had a qualifying disability to when you can start receiving benefits. But you shouldn’t wait five months to apply.
The process takes long enough that by the time you’re approved for benefits, the five-month waiting period will probably already be over. So it’s better to get your claim started as soon as possible.
In Oregon, we’ve been seeing it take six to eight months to get an initial decision on a Social Security Disability application.
If you’re denied and need to ask for a reconsideration, that takes another six months or so.
If you’re denied again and need to have a hearing with a disability judge, that can take a year.More on Disability Denials
You can’t make Social Security speed up its regular decision-making process. But in certain situations you can ask Social Security to put you in a special group of applicants who get faster decisions.
If you have an urgent, life-threatening condition, like many types of cancer, you can ask for a “compassionate allowance” that moves your case up for quicker approval.
Or if your financial situation is becoming desperate—maybe you’ll soon face homelessness—you can ask for faster approval because of dire need.
An experienced disability lawyer will know all the avenues available to you.Contact Us Today!
One of the most important steps in appealing a denial of disability benefits is going to a hearing with a Social Security administrative law judge (ALJ).
This is a rare chance to personally explain your story and your reasons for needing benefits directly to a key Social Security decision maker.
At your hearing, your lawyer and the judge will discuss legal details, the judge will ask you questions about your health problems and inability to work, vocational or medical experts could testify about your case, and your lawyer could question them.
Typically there are only a few people in the meeting, and most hearings are short—less than an hour.
Yes. You have more avenues to keep appealing, and a lawyer can help you every step of the way.
Next you can ask the Appeals Council at Social Security to review the judge’s decision and overturn it.
If the Appeals Council still decides against you, you can keep your claim alive by filing a lawsuit against Social Security in federal court.About Federal Cases
Yes. Winning Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits qualifies you for Medicare health care coverage.
You have to wait 24 months from the official beginning date of your disability benefits to get access to Medicare. But time you spent waiting for a decision on benefits counts toward the 24 months, so you’ll likely no longer have to wait the full amount by the time you start receiving benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits give you eligibility for Medicaid health coverage right away if you didn’t already have access to it.
If Social Security said you can return to work, it probably means the government is denying your benefits.
Social Security officials are saying your health problems aren’t serious enough to force you off work; therefore, you don’t qualify for disability help.
Rather than letting your claim drop, you should consider appealing the denial and take another shot at convincing Social Security that you qualify for benefits.
IMPORTANT: You only have 60 days from the time you receive your denial notice to file an appeal, so act fast.
Every disability claim is different, and we recommend talking to a lawyer to help you determine your best option if Social Security said you can return to work.Get My Free Case Evaluation!
Every several years, Social Security may conduct a “continuing disability review” to see if you still qualify for benefits or if your health and ability to work have improved.
When you’re already receiving benefits and Social Security says they will stop, you can challenge that and hold onto your benefits.
Generally this process is easier than when you first applied, but a disability lawyer can help you get through it as smoothly as possible.
As soon as you realize your health is stopping you from working, you should apply for disability benefits and get help from a lawyer.
The earlier you start, the earlier your official date of disability will be set. When you eventually win benefits, you will receive back pay for the time you spent waiting on the system to approve your claim.
So the further back your original disability date goes, the more you could receive in a lump sum payment from Social Security to start your benefits.
Experienced disability lawyers like those at Wells, Manning, Eitenmiller & Taylor can guide you through the entire process, from applying to appealing, to help you get the best possible result.
It costs you nothing up front to get a disability lawyer.
Your lawyer is awarded a fee only when you win benefits.
And even then, the attorney fee comes out of your back benefits awarded by Social Security, not out of your pocket or your monthly disability checks going forward.
Yes, we do.
When it’s hard for you to get to one of our offices because of your health and financial limitations (or it’s a situation like we’ve all faced with the COVID-19 pandemic closing offices and people maintaining physical distance from each other), our disability attorneys can still meet with you by phone.Call Us Now!