How to Tell If Your Disability Qualifies For Benefits Before You Apply
Business & Finance, Health & Wellness

How to Tell If Your Disability Qualifies For Benefits Before You Apply

Under the Social Security disability insurance program (title II of the Act), there are three classifications for who can qualify for benefits based on the disability. You could be a disabled insured worker younger than full retirement age. Childhood disabled, that is those disabled before the age of 22, who are dependent on an entitled parent or were dependent on a deceased insured parent are eligible. Finally, a disabled surviving spouse aged 50 to 60 is eligible if the deceased spouse was insured under Social Security. 

However, these are fairly broad categories, and you still might not know whether you qualify. First, you can start by eliminating the disqualifying criteria. For instance, anyone who is currently working and earning more than $1,310 per month does not qualify for disability benefits. However, there’s a lot more that goes into deciding if you qualify than simply your current income, and waiting on that decision can take a while. There are other steps you can take to tell if you qualify before actually applying.

The Sequential Evaluation Process for Disability Evaluation

If you are not working, your condition must impact your ability to perform basic work-related activities, such as walking, standing, lifting, and even sitting. However, this limitation must meet at least a continuous period of 12 months. Otherwise, the DDS (Disability Determination Services) will rule that you are not disabled.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the DDS following a five-step sequential review process. This includes determining the claimant’s current work activity, the severity of impairment, whether the impairment medically meets an official listing, a claimant’s ability to perform past work duties, and finally, a claimant’s ability to do other work based on age, education, and work experience.

The Listing of Impairments

Much like the monetary valuation of body parts for Worker’s Compensation, the DDS has a list of medical conditions for each of the major body systems that they consider severe enough to prevent one from performing substantial gainful activity. Now, if you have a disabling condition that does not appear on the list, the DDS will still consider it and could determine that you are disabled based on the facts presented to them.

The Listing of Impairments refers to conditions that are permanent or expected to result in death. Otherwise, a listing may have a specific statement of duration. There are adult and childhood listings that have different criteria in the evaluation process.

Remember that not all impairments are physical. If you have a mental impairment that keeps you from working, you may still qualify for disability benefits. As with physical disabilities, mental disorders must impair your ability to work in order to qualify for benefits. However, there are a wide range of mental disorders that do qualify. These include neurocognitive disorders like dementia, psychotic disorders, anxiety, OCD, autism, eating disorders, personality disorders, developmental disorders, and trauma-related disorders, among others. 

Free Disability Benefits Case Evaluation

It seems there are mountains of questions when it comes to Social Security. A system that was originally a simple idea has grown more sophisticated over the many years it has existed. Despite the paperwork involved and the sequential evaluation process, you can access free disability benefits case evaluation from online sources. Since the benefit eligibility screening covers a wide range of circumstances, you want to find the right Social Security benefits for you so you can be directed to the correct agency in order to apply.

You can go through a screening process that helps you narrow down what you need to know and what you have available to you to apply for. While a site can indicate what you may be eligible for, you will still have to go through the sequential evaluation process for disability evaluation through the DDS. Prescreening is one way to get what you need to have and need to know in order to apply.

The Decision Making Process

The DDS consists of a network of local Social Security field offices and State agencies. The field office is responsible for verifying a person’s income, resources and living arrangements. The State agencies are fully funded by the Federal Government and are responsible for developing the medical file and making an initial determination of disability. In other words, you must have a medical record supporting your case. If there is no evidence to support a determination, a consultative examination may be arranged to acquire additional information as evidence to support a decision.

Health professionals are vital in the determination process by providing medical evidence, performing necessary tests or examinations, as part of the medical or psychological consultants responsible for reviewing claims, and as expert witnesses who may testify at administrative law judge hearings or responding to interrogatories. If the DDS determines a claimant is disabled, the SSA computes the benefit amount considering any outstanding non-disability development and begins paying benefits.

The process of filing for disability was never meant to be an adversarial one. In fact, when you appear at the office to get approved, you may have your representative, but Social Security is not represented by anyone but the agency itself. It really is a matter of meeting the criteria to qualify for the disability. If the initial decision is to deny the claim, you can appeal. You will likely need to provide more evidence of your disability than was in your original case. Prescreening is one way to get most of your initial questions answered so you are better prepared to make a successful application.

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