If you have a medical condition or illness that prevents you from working, you should consider applying for disability benefits. Before your file your claim, you will need to make sure you qualify for benefits in the first place. If you have worked jobs that were covered by Social Security over the years, you can qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if you have accumulated enough work credits by the time you become disabled. Most adults (ages 31 or older) require at least 40 credits, with at least 20 of them earned in the 10 years leading up to your disability. You can earn up to four work credits a year based on your yearly wages. For example, in 2020, you can get your four credits by earning $5,640 in wages over the course of the year.
If you qualify for SSD benefits, you will file an application with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will then need to determine whether you meet their definition of disability by considering various criteria. In 2020, you will generally need to earn less than $1,260 per month for the SSA to determine that you are disabled. You will also need to have a medical condition that significantly prevents you from doing basic work-related activities (e.g. sitting, standing, walking, processing and remembering information).
Next, the SSA will refer to its Listing of Impairments to see if your medical condition meets the criteria of any condition on the list. Generally, if your condition meets the criteria of a condition on the list, it is severe enough to prevent you from completing ‘substantial gainful activity,’ and you will be classified as disabled under the SSA’s definition. If your condition is not listed, the SSA will look at whether your condition prevents you from doing your past work and prevents you from doing other work. If the SSA finds that you cannot do your past job or any other job, you will be classified as disabled.
Qualifying and applying for SSD benefits can be challenging, but a Scranton attorney specializing in disability benefits can make the process much easier.