When most people think about social security benefits, they think about retirement benefits.  But social security also has a benefit program for people who have become disabled.  You have to meet the requirements for social security disability to be eligible. These benefits help people who haven’t reached retirement age yet, but they can’t go to work due to an injury or illness that has affected them for a prolonged period of time.

Eligibility Requirements For Social Security Disability Generally

The requirements for social security disability encompass considerations of your age, how long you have worked, your prior work experience, your earnings ability, and your functional abilities.

There are six requirements for social security disability:

  1.  The first is that you should be no more than 65 years old.  The older you are, the easier it is to qualify.  But if you are over 65, then you would just get retirement benefits, not disability.
  2. Second, you have to have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years. 
  3. Third, you have to prove that you have a severe mental or physical condition that limits your ability to work and earn wages.
  4. Fourth, your inability to work has to last, or is expected to last, at least 12 consecutive months
  5. Fourth, you have to prove that you can’t do the type of jobs you have had over the last 15 years
  6. Fifth, you have to show that you can’t do the work expected of someone your age, with your education, language skills, and background.

When To Apply For Benefits

You don’t have to wait until you are off work for a year to apply for social security disability benefits.  You can apply when it’s reasonable to think that you will be off work for a year.  This could be at any time during that first year.  At our firm, we usually file around the 9th month of disability if it looks like treatment and recovery time will continue past the one year mark.

There are exceptions to the rules and different ways of qualifying for each one of these 6 requirements.  Feel free to contact us with questions you may have about the process or filing an appeal.

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