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Can I apply for Social Security disability benefits?

Social Security disability insurance, also known as SSD or SSDI, is a federal benefit available to people with disabilities. As with many federal and state benefit programs, the application process can be confusing and complex. In addition, it is not always easy to understand how to qualify or what the requirements are in order to apply for the benefit.

Here is some information about applying for Social Security disability benefits. 

1. Understand the Social Security definition of disability

SSD is a disability benefit for people who are fully disabled, not temporarily or partially disabled. The Social Security Administration itself says that this is a strict definition of disability. Although this should not discourage you from applying if you have a disability, it does mean that you have to understand whether you qualify according to the parameters set forth by the SSA. If you fail to accurately determine your status prior to filing your application, you could end up with a denial and have to appeal the decision.

2. Know the types of conditions that are considered disabilities

If you meet the strict definition of disability, you must also show the type of disability you have. Sometimes, people who suffer catastrophic injuries in motor vehicle accidents or on-the-job accidents, including severe blows to the back resulting in spinal cord damage, end up permanently disabled. However, the list of possible medical conditions that qualify as a disability is extensive. The SSA has an impairment manual that lists the various medical conditions it considers as disabilities that qualify for SSD.

3. Make sure you have worked an adequate amount of time

To receive SSD benefits, you also must have worked for an adequate amount of time making Social Security contributions. The SSA uses a mechanism called work credits to determine whether you have worked long enough to qualify for disability insurance. It also takes into account your age at the time of your disability.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits is complex, so it can help immensely to have the assistance of an attorney with experience helping clients through the process. Attorneys who work in this area know how to help their clients avoid potential pitfalls that could lead to denied benefits.


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