Recent disability statistics in the United States show that more than 375,000 Americans become totally disabled each year. Fifty percent of the working population in the ages of 18 to 64 are disabled as a result of illness, accident, or workplace injuries. The chances for getting disabled are actually higher than most people think, with younger workers more than likely to encounter a short- or long-term disability. There are more than eight million adults who suffer from a permanent disability, which renders them unable to find work and sustain themselves and their families.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as a severe medical condition that lasts for more than a year and results in a person being unable to perform previous work-related functions or impedes their ability to find other jobs. The disability can be a challenge for the injured employee and can also have serious implications on finances.
Not being able to work can compel a person to seek government relief in the form of disability benefits. The claims are directed to the SSA, which, in turn, evaluates and approves the claim based on set standards.
If you currently suffer from a medical condition that hinders you from returning to your previous work or from finding another job, you might consider filing a disability claim. While it often requires a lot of paperwork and patience, knowing how to qualify for disability benefits can compensate for your inability to return to work or find a replacement. It may even give you enough to tide over your medications and help secure family members who depend on you.
The SSA provides two types of benefits to claimants—the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The SSDI is given to disabled individuals who’ve worked and paid Social Security tax. On the other hand, the SSI is awarded to adults and children who have limited income and resources due to their disability. You’re eligible for SSDI or SSI if you have one or more of the following apply to your situation:
Employees whose companies pay Social Security tax and work long enough can obtain the required work credits for disability claims. This means you’ve already worked 10 years or more, and have 40 work credits.
This 2021, work credits are given for every USD$1,470 of wages or earned income. You’re allowed to earn up to four work credits within the year.
For younger workers who weren’t able to work as long due to disability, they can still qualify for SSID if they’ve been working for 1.5 years.
In order for you to qualify, your medical condition or its equivalent must be included in the SSA’s bluebook, which enumerates physical and mental illnesses that can cause disability. Its popular listings include diseases that affect the spine, back and joints, internal organs (lung, heart, kidneys, and digestive tract), vision and hearing loss, neurological disorders, immune system deficiencies, and mental disorders.
If ever you don’t find your illness in the SSA bluebook, you must prove that your illness is as severe as those listed. You can check out this blog post for an explanation of how medical equivalents can still qualify for disability benefits.
The severity of your condition is another reason for you to qualify. In this, you’ll need medical proof to demonstrate that you can no longer perform the tasks required for your job and that your condition also hampers your ability to find an alternative source of income.
You can also use medical records, such as MRIs, CT scans, and physical and laboratory exams, to show that your condition has hindered you from working for the past 12 months, and may even last longer due to prolonged recovery, or the need for therapy or surgery.
Aside from medical opinions and relevant documents, you may also need a disability lawyer to advise you on additional requirements needed to prove your inability to work due to a severe medical condition.
SSA considers individuals whose vision is lower than 20/20, or whose visual field is 20 degrees or less as legally blind. Those who can read large prints and don’t require the assistance of service animals can also qualify if their vision problems occur alone or simultaneously with other health problems that impede their ability to work.
Disability benefits are also provided to the surviving spouse when they’re between 50 to 60 years old and have a disability that occurred before or within seven years of the worker’s death. This sum is provided to ensure that the widow or widower who has limited capacities can provide for their needs through federal funds.
Children who are disabled can obtain the same benefits as their parents who have either started receiving disability or retirement benefits. They receive these benefits as long as they’re unmarried, and until the age of 18. However, if they develop a disability before age 22, they’re entitled to Supplemental Security Income.
Wounded soldiers and veterans can apply for SSDI if they’ve worked full time within the last five to ten years. Their work experience in both civilian and military positions are considered. They can apply for this alongside their VA disability benefits, as long as they meet the above-mentioned definition of disability.
Disability hinders people from work and other related tasks. Often, impairments come at the expense of looking for government financial assistance in order to sustain medical and everyday needs. The Social Security Administration provides for the needs of its disabled members with the Social Security Disability Insurance based on the length of their employment and their work credits. On the other hand, individuals whose disabilities hinder them from finding work or require support for disabled children and other dependents can apply for a Supplemental Security Income.
With the growing number of disabled workers in the United States, it’s important to provide guidelines on who can qualify for these benefits. More than a welcome resource to supplement their lost income, these benefits serve as dignified privileges to those who once worked for their families and country.
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