The criteria to meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements to receive benefits can be quite complicated. The administration’s definition is that you must be no longer able to perform “substantial gainful activity” due to a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least one year, or could possibly result in death. Seems simple enough, right? Not exactly. We will break down the medical and non-medical requirements here so you can better understand how this complex process works.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a Listing of Impairments that describes a number of disabling conditions that each have a certain level of severity. If your condition is proven to meet that level of severity, your claim is guaranteed to be approved. This is very difficult, however. To prove you are eligible for benefits, you will need comprehensive medical records to show. These will include a full list of your conditions, in addition to every doctor, hospital and treatment center involved in the diagnosis and care of your condition or conditions.
Provide contact information for each of these, and make sure your doctor is aware of the criteria on the SSA Listing of Impairments, as he or she may be submitting statements on your behalf. Be honest with your doctor or doctors about how your condition affects your daily life.
The SSA will also evaluate your past work as well as your current ability to work, looking at a number of factors such as age, education level and skillset. It will also check to see whether you have been paying Social Security payroll taxes over a specific period of time. You must pay into the system for a required number of years to be considered insured for SSDI purposes; this number will depend on your age. If you stopped paying into Social Security, you must show that your disability began before your insured status ran out.
Even if you feel that you adequately meet all requirements, you may be denied in your initial claim. Appeals are possible, and in fact, common. Speaking with an experienced SSI and SSDI attorney about your claim may heighten your chances of winning your case. An attorney understands every step of the process and will guide you from beginning to end.