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Social Security Disability: What to Know Before Filing a Claim

A Boy in a Wheelchair
More than 37 million Americans are disabled, and just about half become disabled before retirement age. If you become unable to work due to a disability, you may qualify for financial benefits through the Social Security Disability program. Before filing a disability claim, here's what you should know.

You Must Have a Serious Impairment

Having a mild condition isn't enough to qualify for social security benefits. For the Social Security Administration to approve you, you must have a condition that seriously impairs your ability to work. 
A serious impairment is one that prevents you from doing even the most sedentary of work — that is, work where you are sitting down. If you're able to perform even the most basic sedentary work, you won't qualify for social security benefits.

Your Condition Must Qualify As a Disability

The Social Security Administration has a strict definition of disability. You're not considered disabled based solely on the fact that your doctor says you're disabled. In order to be approved for social security benefits, you must have a condition that qualifies as a disability based on the list of disabling conditions the SSA maintains.
The list describes impairments based on each body system, and each of these impairments is severe enough to prevent you from participating in any meaningful amount of work activities. The SSA uses this criteria to evaluate your claim. The conditions on the listing are severe and many are permanent. 
The SSA will evaluate your condition based on strict medical criteria to determine whether you qualify as disabled. 

Your Condition Must Be Long Term

Having a short-term disability disqualifies you for social security benefit. To qualify for social security benefits, your condition must be expected to last a minimum of 12 months, or you must have had the condition for at least 12 months by the time you apply. 
You may qualify for temporary disability if you have a short-term condition that prevents you from participating in work activities. The state of South Carolina does not participate in short-term disability benefits. However, some employers offer temporary disability insurance. 
Check with your employer to find out if they offer short-term disability and to find out whether you're covered. If you are, you can apply through your employer to receive temporary benefits. 

You Must Have Earned Enough Credits

To qualify for social security disability, you must have worked for a company that participates in the social security program. This involves paying into the social security system. Each time you're paid through your employer, a certain amount is withheld and goes toward the social security program.
You'll see this listed under your list of deductions when you get your employment check. 
In addition, you'll need to earn enough credits. This means you have to work long enough to qualify for social security benefits. For example, if you become disabled before the age of 38, you must have worked a minimum of four years to qualify for social security benefits.

Must Have Worked Recently

If you worked in the past but haven't worked in recent years, you may not qualify for disability benefits. This is because the SSA requires you to meet minimum requirements for recent work in order to qualify for benefits. 
Recent work requirements are based on the age you were when your disability began. For example, if you become disabled in or before the three-month period before you turn 24, you'll need to have worked at least 1.5 years of the 3 years prior to the beginning of your disability. 
Dealing with a disability is never easy. If you've become disabled and are unable to work, contact Dean Law Firm LLC to find out if you qualify for social security disability benefits.