The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits to workers who are disabled in some way and cannot work. Applicants are encouraged to apply for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) as soon as they become disabled as it can be a difficult process. The main qualifications for SSDI are: that the person suffers from a disability that impairs their ability to perform basic work tasks such as sitting, lifting, or using cognitive memory skills; that the disability is expected to last for a period of time no less than one year; that the applicant cannot do the work they previously did and there are no other work options due to the disability; or that the disability can be fatal.
There are medical requirements for an applicant to receive SSDI. The SSA keeps a current and detailed list of impairments that can qualify a worker for benefits. Examples of these medical conditions include: diabetes, disorders of the spine, respiratory ailments, epilepsy or other seizure disorders, head trauma, or attention deficit disorder.
Even if an applicant has a disability that is not on the SSA’s official list, they can still qualify for benefits if they can prove their case.
The SSA uses two “earnings” tests that take a worker’s previous work experience into consideration when awarding benefits. The worker must pass a recent work experience test based upon their age at the time of the disability, and they must pass a “duration of work” test that will count their work experience prior to their disability. For example, an applicant who is between the ages of 24 and 31 will likely have to prove work experience for at least half of the previous ten years.
If an applicant is denied SSDI, they can appeal the decision. It is highly recommended that applicants retain the services of an attorney. Social Security disability benefits can literally be a lifeline to some workers, and it is important for them to have as much legal help as they can.