Who qualifies for Social Security disability? Does it matter where I live?
Social Security is a system within the United States that reaches almost every family in the country. The Social Security Administration (SSA) states that almost every American will use the Social Security system at some point in their lives. For some, retirement benefits will provide support as we transition to our well-earned retirement years. For others, disability benefits will offer much needed support as we navigate life after a serious injury or illness.
This is a federal program, so the rules are the same no matter what state you call home. Anyone who has worked in the United States has likely helped to fund this program. In many cases, our employers set up our paychecks to automatically take out Social Security tax. As a result, anyone who needs to use these benefits is using a program they have helped fund. When considering disability benefits, it can help think of the program as a safety net. We help fund it, so it is there to catch us if we fall.
It is important to note that the SSA can be particular in what they consider a disability. In most cases, an applicant must be able to show the SSA that they cannot do the work they once did because of a medical condition, are unable to adjust to other work because of the medical condition and have a disability that medical professionals expect to last at least one year or result in death. The agency provides a list of disabilities it considers severe enough to warrant benefits, available here.
How do I apply for benefits?
Disability benefits are generally available for those who cannot work for at least one year due to a physical or mental condition. Certain documents are needed to apply for benefits. The exact documents will vary depending on the benefits you need, but generally include a Social Security card, birth certificate or proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status and tax forms.
Those who suffer a disability are wise to file for Social Security disability benefits as soon as possible because it often takes several months for the government to process the claim. It can help expedite the process to include medical records and treatment dates, contact information of medical providers, names of medications, and names of employers and job duties for the last 15 years where appropriate.
Can I get help with my Social Security disability application?
Yes. You are not required to complete the process on your own. You can reach out and get help with the process. This is true whether you are putting together your initial application or fighting a denial.