Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability?

If you’re like many people, you may have struggled for some time with a physical or mental impairment but have finally reached a point where you can no longer work. Reluctantly, perhaps, you file for Social Security Disability benefits only to find you have been denied. What is SSD eligibility based on?

Threshold Requirements
Initially, it is important to realize that SSD is in essence an insurance system in which you earn eligibility to apply for disability benefits by working long enough in jobs covered by the Social Security Administration in which a deduction for FICA is withheld as a payroll tax. In general, if you have worked five out of the last ten years, you are likely eligible.

Application Process
A detailed application for disability must be properly submitted, including: • Work history
• Educational background
• Complete medical history relevant to the claimed impairment
While this can be cumbersome and lengthy, most people are able to submit a complete application.

The Definition of Disabled
Disability has a specific meaning as established by SSA rules and regulations. You may be found disabled if the SSA determines:
• You cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity,
• Due to a medically determinable impairment,
• That is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.

The linchpin of most SSD cases revolves on the nature of your impairment.

Listing of Impairments
The SSA has created a list of impairments, which if your medical condition matches, you will be found disabled. However, in reality, few applicants’ impairments are identical to the listings, which provide grounds for a denial.

Denial Statistics
On average, nationally, more than 60 percent of initial applicants for SSD are denied. Thankfully, there is an appeals process, but unfortunately, at the first level of appeal, called reconsideration, the denial rate is even higher; typically 80 percent or greater. Statistically, your best opportunity for approval is at the next level of appeal, the Administrative Hearing.

The Administrative Hearing
Unlike the initial application and reconsideration, the Hearing provides an opportunity for you to testify about how your impairments specifically impact you. Often a medical expert and vocational expert are brought in by the administrative law judge to provide further testimony. It is wise to seek experienced legal representation at this level, and those that do have a better chance at a positive result. Although your results will be based on the specifics of your situation, on average, more than 60 percent are awarded benefits at the Hearing.

Contact a Social Security Disability Attorney for Legal Advice
If you have been denied benefits, do not make the mistake of giving up; visit to arrange your free consultation to explore the options you may have in your particular case.

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