Social Security Disability Requirements: How to Qualify for Disability

In order to qualify for disability, you must meet certain Social Security disability requirements. At Disability Attorney Services LLC, we can advise you as to how to qualify for disability, as well help you determine whether or not you are eligible to receive benefits. To learn more about the disability claims and appeals processes, call us today and speak to an experienced disability lawyer.

Disability Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina

What Social Security Disability Requirements Do You Have to Meet?

Social Security disability requirements include:

  • You must have worked enough time in jobs covered by Social Security;
  • You must have a medical condition that meets the definition of disabled; and
  • Your disability must be expected to last at least one year or result in death.

When you begin receiving disability benefits, you will continue to get them until you are able to work again on a regular basis. However, once you become able to work again, you may continue receiving some benefits, called “work incentives.”

If you meet all of the Social Security disability requirements and are still receiving benefits when you attain full retirement age, then the SSA will convert your benefits into retirement benefits. However, the amount of your benefits will remain the same.

How Long Must You Have Worked in Covered Jobs?

In order to qualify for disability, you must have worked long enough and recently enough in a qualifying job to receive benefits.

When you work in a qualifying job that is covered by Social Security, you earn work credits. You earn one work credit for a certain amount of wages each year. For example, in 2018, for every $1,320 that you earn, you get one work credit. Once you’ve earned $5,280 in a qualifying job, you get four work credits.

The exact number of work credits that you need to meet Social Security disability requirements depends on your age when you become disabled. Typically, you will need a minimum of 40 credits. Twenty of those work credits must have been earned within the last 10 years. However, if you are very young and have not been in the workforce for long, then you may qualify with fewer work credits.

How to Qualify for Disability in North Carolina

How Does the SSA Define Disability?

You must have a medical condition that meets the definition of a disability by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, under Social Security, the definition of that term is different than many other programs and insurance companies.

The Social Security Administration considers you disabled if the following are true:

  • You cannot do the same work you did before;
  • You cannot adjust to other types of work because of your medical conditions; and
  • Your medical conditions are expected to result in disability for at least one year or result in death.

You must be totally disabled to meet Social Security disability requirements. Partial disability or short-term disabilities will not qualify for benefits. The SSA assumes that families with working individuals have other means to provide support if someone becomes disabled on a short-term basis. Those resources may include workers’ compensation, short- and long-term disability insurance through an employer, savings accounts, and investments that you can use.

How the SSA Determines If You Have a Disability

When it comes to knowing how to qualify for disability, it’s important to know what types of questions SSA will consider when evaluating your claim. The SSA uses a five-step evaluation process to determine whether you meet Social Security disability requirements of “disabled.”

Are You Currently Working?

The SSA will consider whether you are currently working, and if so, how much. In general, if you make more than $1,180 per month in 2018, then the SSA may not consider you disabled. If you are not working at all or have wages low enough to qualify, then the SSA will forward your application to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to make a decision about your medical conditions.

Is Your Condition “Severe”?

You must have a condition that the SSA considers “severe”. A severe condition is one that significantly limits your ability to basic work-related activities, such as lifting, walking, sitting, standing, and remembering. This limitation must last for at least 12 months.

Is Your Condition on the SSA’s List of Disabling Conditions?

The SSA has a list of medical conditions that are considered so severe that they may prevent a person from completing substantial gainful activity. That list includes descriptions of conditions and what constitutes “severe” symptoms for each. If your condition is on the list and meets severity descriptions, then the SSA will find that you meet Social Security disability requirements. However, if your condition is not on the list, then the SSA will further evaluate your condition.

Can You Do Work You’ve Previously Done?

The SSA will consider whether or not you can do work you’ve done in the past. They will determine whether your medical conditions prevent you from performing any of the types of work you’ve received training to do or have actually done in the past. If your condition does not prevent you from working, then the SSA will not find you disabled. However, if it does prevent you from past work, then you will move forward in the process.

Can You Do Other Types of Work?

If you’re unable to do the work you’ve done previously, the SSA will consider whether or not you can do any other types of work. They will consider your age, past work experience, education and training, and any transferable skills you have. If you cannot do any other types of work, the SSA will find you disabled. If not, then they may deny your claim.

Contact Us to Learn More About How to Qualify for Disability

If you have questions about Social Security disability requirements, you should speak with a North Carolina disability attorney who can help you determine whether you are eligible to receive benefits. Call Disability Attorney Services LLC today for help with your claim.