How to Qualify for Social Security Disability

Gavel on a white table

The decision of whether an individual is considered eligible for SSDI is based upon whether the applicant meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict criteria. The problem is that two-thirds of disability applications are rejected on the first filing. With many Americans living from paycheck-to-paycheck, any delay in being approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be a financial hardship.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, almost 12 percent of all Americans are classified as disabled. No one expects to become disabled, but odds are that one in four workers will become disabled before they reach retirement age. The odds of being approved for SSDI can be increased through understanding the five-step screening process that an online applicant can use to determine if he or she is considered disabled in the eyes of SSA.

1. Working Credits

A disability applicant must have worked a minimum amount of time prior to becoming disabled in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The SSA uses two calculations to determine if the applicant has paid enough into the system. The first calculation considers the applicant’s age and the second considers how long the applicant has been working.

2. Applicant’s Condition

To qualify for SSDI, the applicant must suffer from a severe condition that interferes with all his or her work-related duties. This condition will be expected to have a duration of at least 12 months or will result in the continued disability or death of the applicant.

3. Condition Must Be on the List

The applicant’s medical condition must be on the SSA’s official list of disabling conditions. If the applicant’s condition is not on the list, a disability lawyer can assist Chicago applicants with the additional steps to provide proof that his or her condition impairs the applicant in a way that prevents them from working.

4. Applicant Cannot Perform Job Duties

The SSA will determine if the applicant’s condition is severe enough to prevent him or her from performing the duties of their past employment. This is accomplished through assessing the applicant’s residual functional capacity (RFC).

5. Ability to Work

The final requirement for qualifying for SSDI is the determination whether the applicant is capable of doing another type of work. It does not matter is there are jobs available or not, the determination is based on the applicant’s ability to work.