Qualifications For Disability Benefits

May 14, 2011 No Comments by

Elibility RequirementsThe qualifications for disability benefits from Social Security can be complicated but let me simplify it a bit. You have to be disabled and you have to have “something else.”

I’ll get to the “something else” part later but let me start with the “disabled” part first. If we’re talking about adult disability, here is the main set of qualifications for disability benefits:

Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months …

An individual shall be determined to be under a disability only if his physical or mental impairment or impairments are of such severity that he is not only unable to do his previous work but cannot, considering his age, education, and work experience, engage in any other kind of substantial gainful work which exists in the national economy, regardless of whether such work exists in the immediate area in which he lives, or whether a specific job vacancy exists for him, or whether he would be hired if he applied for work.

There’s a lot packed into these qualifications for disability benefits. Let me list some:

  1. They can consider mental as well as physical disabilities.
  2. Short term disabilities don’t get you anything from Social Security. It has to be expected to last at least a year or to result in death.
  3. Disability has to be “medically determinable”, whatever that means.
  4. It’s not enough to be unable to do the work you used to do. You have to be unable to do other kinds of work.
  5. They have to consider your age, education and work experience when the decide whether there’s other work you can do.
  6. It’s not enough that no one will hire you. That just doesn’t matter to Social Security.
  7. It doesn’t matter that there are no jobs in your area. They can turn you down if there are jobs elsewhere you can do — even if no one would hire you for one of those jobs.

Those qualifications for disability benefits are tough. What are the “something else” qualifications for disability benefits? You have to meet one, just one of the following:

  1. You must have worked a fair amount in recent years. Just how much and how recently depends upon how old you are. OR
  2. You must be poor, both in terms of your income and your resources — but you house and one car don’t count. OR
  3. You must have become disabled before age 22 and at least one of your parents must be on Social Security benefits on their own account or have died with enough wage credits so that they would have been eligible. OR
  4. You must be a widow or widower who is 50 or older and your husband or wife must have died within a prescribed time period that is way too difficult to describe here.

I’ve tried to simplify this as best I can, but if this sounds a bit complicated, well, it is. If you really want to know how the qualifications for disability benefits would apply to you, I suggest you contact this law firm.

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About the author

Charles Hall is the lead attorney for the Charles Hall Law Firm in Raleigh, NC. He has been practicing in the Social Security Disability law field since 1979, is published, and is ready to help new clients win their benefits in North Carolina.