Five Step Guide To Applying For Disability Benefits

It is important to consider certain factors when applying for disability benefits to avoid wasting time and resources that could have been geared towards spending time with family and acquiring health services.

Are you working?

Social Security Administration would often determine if you are engaging in any Substantial Gainful Activity SGA, a term used to describe the work activity and earnings, before deciding whether or not you are eligible for disability benefits. According to the SSA, work does not have to be fulltime to be considered substantial because it is dependent on monthly earnings. A person engages in SGA if he/she makes monthly earnings of $1070 or more. If you are not within the financial requirement, your application will be denied. You may only proceed to the next step if you are making less than this amount.

Is your condition too severe to work?

Social Security would often determine if you have a severe impairment or a combination of impairments before qualifying you for disability benefits. The SSA considers a condition severe if it significantly imposes functional limitations on an individual’s abilities (physical and mental) abilities to do work. Also, the impairments must have lasted or must be expected to last for at least a year, or be terminal. If your condition does not particularly satisfy the conditions above, you will not be found disabled and would automatically be denied disability benefits.

Is your condition listed in Social Security's Blue Book?

Another condition you must bear in mind when applying for disability benefits is the list of disabilities recognized by Social Security. Unfortunately, not all disabilities qualify an individual for benefits. The SSA uses two lists (Compassionate Allowances or Quick Disability Determinations list) to expedite disability process of applicants by automatically determining any conditions listed therein as a disability. If your condition is not included in any of the lists, you may still qualify for disability as explained in step 4.

Can you do your previous work?

If your condition is not listed by the SSA, you may still qualify for disability benefits provided your condition is severe such that it prevents you from engaging in your previous work. The SSA will examine your impairment to determine your remaining ability to do work-related activities (Residual Functional Capacity). Factors they consider often includes your response to physical exertion, ability to understand and carry out instructions and your ability to tolerate environmental conditions. If your condition prevents you from carrying out your work-related activities, you may qualify for disability benefits; however, if it does not impose any limitations on your ability to work, the SSA will disqualify you and your claim will be denied.

Can you do any type of work?

Finally, the SSA will evaluate your educational background, past work experience, and age (among other factors) to determine if you possess the ability to do any other types of work. If your condition prevents you from doing any kind of work, your claim will be approved. Conversely, in the event that you possess the ability to do any type of work, you will not qualify for benefits.


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