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A short review of SSDI eligibility requirements

This blog frequently how person in Ohio can receive Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) benefits for a specific illness or injury. In this post, we want to step back a bit and review the general requirements for obtaining these very important benefits. These requirements fall into two broad categories: medical and employment. We will deal with the employment requirements first.

To be eligible for SSDI benefits, an applicant must have earned a sufficient number of “work credits” over the course of his or her working life. Current Social Security Administration (“SSA”) regulations provide that one credit is earned for every $1,260 of wages or self-employment income. A person can earn a maximum of four credits per year. To be fully eligible, a person must have accumulated 40 work credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the ten years immediately preceding the date upon which the applicant became disabled.

The more difficult requirement is proving that the applicant has been permanently disabled by an illness or injury. No benefits are available for temporary disability. “Disability” means that the applicant is unable, by reason of the illness or injury, to engage in “substantial gainful activity.” Substantial gainful activity is measured by monthly earnings. Currently, SSA regulations define “substantial gainful activity” as the ability to earn more than $1,130 per month. Some medical conditions, such as blindness or terminal cancer, can lead to almost immediate approval of a claim for benefits. Other conditions require the applicant to submit statements from his or her employers and from medical providers, test results, diagnostic images and the like to prove that the illness or injury is severe enough to have caused permanent and total disability.

Questions regarding basic eligibility, such as total number of work credits, are usually decided by the Social Security office that receives the initial claim. Deciding questions concerning the nature of the illness or injury and the applicant’s inability to work can take much longer, especially if the initial application has been denied and an appeal is necessary. If a claim is denied, the applicant may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in handling SSDI claims. A knowledgeable lawyer can provide advice on the sufficiency of the medical evidence and assist the applicant in pursuing an appeal.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Benefits Planner: Your Future Benefits,” accessed on Aug. 13, 2016

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