Saturday, May 24, 2014

How to Determine If You Are Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits

If you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, you might get overwhelmed by the complexity of the system. Before you are able to apply, you need to determine if your disabilities qualify you for disability benefits. While you and your doctor may believe that you are eligible, you need to fit under Social Security's definition of "disabled" in order to be granted benefits.

Here are the five steps used to determine eligibility for Disability benefits:

1. Are you currently working?

In general, averaging more than $1,000 a month in earnings will disqualify you from receiving Social Security disability benefits. There are a few exceptions, and we recommend consulting with an experienced, local disability lawyer.

2. What is the severity of your disability?

In order to receive Social Security benefits, your disability must be severe enough to prevent you from working and performing other basic activities. A good disability lawyer will spend time with you and your doctors developing a plan to document your condition and prove that your are severely disabled.

3. Does your disability match up with one of the health problems recognized by the Social Security Administration?

The Social Security Administration recognizes several health conditions that qualify you for Social Security disability benefits. However, it is important to note that the list is only a small percentage of eligible disabilities. Among the most common include:

  • Chronic Pain
  • Chronic Fatigue
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Cancer
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hepatitis C
  • Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
  • Spinal Injuries
  • Lupus
  • Lung Disease

An experienced disability attorney will help you determine if your condition qualifies for Disability benefits. It is crucial you provide the proper documentation to your lawyer so that they can get a proper representation of your conditions.

4. Are you able to continue working at your previous job?

It is important to show that you are not able to continue to perform your previous job. To do this, you will need an expert witness to appear at your hearing to discuss your physical or mental limitations. In fact, the Social Security Administration might bring in their own expert to testify against you, so it is imperative you have a disability lawyer prepared for a cross-examination.

5. Are you unable to perform any other jobs?

After you prove your inability to perform your previous job, the SSA might consider other jobs that you are able to do. Several factors are included in making this determination, including your previous work experience, age, education level, and disability status.

For those applying for disability benefits, it's important to hire an experience disability lawyer to represent you at your hearing. They will help you present a compelling case in order to increase your chances of winning disability benefits. An experienced attorney specializing in disability claims will offer a free consultation and not collect any fees until you win Social Security Disability benefits.

Gary Penar is a Disability Lawyer based in Cour d'Alene, Idaho. He serves the entire state, and offers a free consultation of your claim on his website at
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