How the Social Security Administration Determines SSDI and SSI Qualifications

The realities that come along with injuries and medical conditions sustained both in and out of the workplace can make life extremely difficult for an individual in the blink of an eye.

For instance, a serious injury suffered at work could immediately hinder your ability to perform the basic duties of your job and, in turn, prohibit your capability to support yourself and your family.

Another example? Hypothetically, let's say a serious injury sustained in a car accident to your spine, joints, ligaments, nerves or required surgery to a body part including hand/wrist or back surgery, which then forced you to miss an extended period of time at work (while also trying to cover expensive medical bills that you couldn't afford due to lost wages).

Or, you've been diagnosed with a medical condition that impacts both your quality of life and ability to ever earn steady income again.

In all three of these scenarios - and several others in similar capacities -  you may qualify to receive help based on the details of your situation. Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) are compensation systems put in place by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to provide aid to those in need. Eligibility doesn't solely apply to the aforementioned examples, though.

Any type of injury (work, car, home, malpractice, products liability, etc.) or severe impairment can qualify for SSDI or SSI, and it can apply to an injury to any part of the body (physical and/or mental, head, shoulders, arms, knees, toes, etc). In order to be deemed eligible, the SSA will evaluate the injury to determine if it makes the individual unable to perform substantial gainful employment for 12 months or longer while taking into account their age, education, past work experience, and prior severe impairments.

A consultation with one of our lawyers can help to provide clarity on your potential eligibility and how you should proceed moving forward. Below, we'll detail the SSDI and SSI programs and expand on what qualifications you'll need to meet to have your request accepted.

SSDI and SSI: What You Need to Know

Social Security Disability Insurance is awarded to those with impairments, taking into account their age and work experience, who are unable to work or projected unable to work for 12 months or longer.  But in order to become eligible for SSDI, one must work for a sufficient amount of time to earn "work credits." In 2019, each $1,360 made in wages or self-employed income accounts for one credit. You'll receive the year-maximum of four credits once reaching the $5,440 mark.

Generally, you need 40 credits - 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled - to be eligible for disability benefits.

Supplemental Security Insurance is a program that provides income for the elderly (65 or older), blind, or disabled persons with little or no income if proven that they are unable to perform any substantial gainful employment for 12 months or longer while taking into account their age, education, past work experience, and severe impairments. This income is primarily meant to cover food, clothing, and shelter. SSI is also available to blind or disabled children up to age 22 if they are enrolled in school.

It's also possible to be eligible for both SSDI and SSI simultaneously if your SSDI income is low enough to qualify as limited income or resources under the SSI requirements.

The SSA provides a listing manual (otherwise known as the blue book) of impairments - 14 for adults and 15 for children - that are eligible for SSDI and SSI benefits. However, any severe impairment or combination of impairments constitute a medical condition that could be accepted as long as it causes an inability to perform any substantial gainful employment for 12 months or longer while taking into account age, education, past work experience, and severe impairments.

Even if you don't meet a listing, you can still qualify for benefits based on your impairment or combination of impairments. Below are five notable physical and mental impairments that the SSA lists in its manual.

You can find the full list of eligible conditions on the SSA website.

Dugan & Associates is Always Here For You!

Led by Mitch Dugan, our team at Dugan & Associates is ready to help you with your case with passion, honesty, and integrity.  Whether you're experiencing a loss of income, an increase in medical bills, or emotional distress due to an accident - our group of tireless workplace injury lawyers will make sure you receive the maximum monetary compensation available to you. Give us a call at 412-353-3572 or contact us online today for your free consultation.

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