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What Do You Need to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?

For some, a catastrophic injury, disease, or illness can result in total disability—interfering with everyday tasks and making it impossible to work full-time or consistently enough to earn a living. Very often, a person’s only option is to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”).

How to Qualify for Disability Benefits.

It takes more than filling out an application online to be awarded disability benefits.

The Social Security Administration (“SSA”) requires anyone applying for disability benefits to meet their “eligibility criteria.”

Generally speaking, there are 2 main eligibility criteria:

  1. You must meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled,” and
  2. You must have worked long enough, and paid into the federal tax system (Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“FICA”) premiums) to be eligible for SSDI benefits.

To meet the work criteria, you must have worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years if you are under 50 years old. For those over 50, the number of years you must have worked to be eligible will vary with your age.

Disability Criteria.

To be awarded disability benefits, you also must meet the SSA’s definition of “disability.”

This isn’t easy to do.

When it comes to awarding disability benefits, the SSA is very strict. It does not matter to the SSA whether you think you are totally disabled, or whether you have a letter from your doctor saying you are “disabled.”

The SSA requires more.

It requires that you prove by sufficient objective medical evidence that you are completely unable to perform the work you did in the past, any similar work, or any “other work” that may exist in the national economy.

Generally, this means you must be unable to even do a “desk job.”

If the SSA determines that you can no longer do your past job or anything like it, but you can do some other job that is available to someone of your age, education, physical and mental abilities, it does not matter that this “other work” does not exist in your community. According to the SSA, you will not be “disabled.”

All of which is to say, that it is not easy to be awarded disability benefits. The SSA’s eligibility criteria, policies, and procedures are strict and often complicated.

Applying for Disability Benefits? We Can Help.

If you are applying for disability benefits or have been denied benefits, contact us. We are experienced disability attorneys with offices in Baton Rouge, and we don’t get paid unless you win your case.  We serve Baker, Gonzales, Port Allen, New Orleans, Zachary, and several other cities in Louisiana. To schedule your free consultation, call ToDay at (225) 465-1232 or contact us here.


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