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Who is Eligible to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?

Social Security Disability is a government program that pays monthly benefits to individuals who become disabled before they reach retirement age. The average person receives $1,234 per month in benefits, but the maximum one can receive is $2,861. If you have a disability that prevents you from performing the work you did prior to becoming injured, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. However, to qualify, you must have worked in jobs covered by Social Security and your medical condition must meet the Social Security Administration's definition of disability. Learn more about whether or not you qualify for SSD below.

Work Credit Requirements

To qualify for SSD, you must have worked long enough and recently enough. Because SSD is a government-run program, taxpayers pay into it throughout the fiscal year. The theory is that those who contribute when they are young and able can reap the rewards of their hard work when they are no longer capable of working.

The SSA determines work credits based on your annual wages or your self-employment income. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year. Each credit is worth a certain dollar amount. For instance, as of 2019, you earn one credit for every $1,360 in wages you take home. Once you have earned $5,440, you have earned four credits and are therefore maxed out for the year.

How many work credits you need depends on your age and work history at the time you sustain your injury. Generally speaking, workers need to have earned at least 40 work credits over their working lifetime, 20 of which they earned within the last 10 years, to qualify for SSD. However, the SSA does make exceptions for younger workers.

For instance, if you become disabled before the age of 24, you need only show that you earned six work credits in the past three years. If you sustained an injury between the ages of 24 and 31, you may qualify if you have credit for working half the time between turning 21 and the age you became disabled. For instance, if you sustained your injury at 25 years of age, you would need enough credits for two years of work, which would be eight credits.

Definition of Disability

The SSA's definition of disability is stricter than the medical definition. The Social Security Administration only pays for total disability. If you are partially disabled or disabled for a short-term, the SSA will assume you can perform some type of work and therefore deny you your request for benefits. For you to qualify for SSD, you must prove that meet the following requirements:

● You cannot perform the work you did prior to becoming disabled;

● Your medical condition prevents you from adjusting to other types of work; and

● Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for one year or result in death.

The SSA's definition of disability is so strict because the SSA assumes that working families have access to other resources to support themselves for the duration of a short-term disability. Some such resources include insurance, savings, workers' compensation insurance, and investments.

Work With a Social Security Disability Attorney

If you or a loved one sustained a disability that keeps you from performing your job or a similar role, you may qualify for SSD. However, it is always best to consult with an Oklahoma Social Security Disability lawyer during the application process, and especially if you received a denial. Contact BDIW Law for the representation you need to obtain a favorable outcome.

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