How to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits
After the initial shock of finding out that they are seriously ill most people start to worry. They worry about how to fight their illness, but also, they worry about how to survive when they can’t work. If you’ve worked most of your life it can be scary to think about how you’re going to get by without working. The Social Security Administration offers Social Security disability benefits to people who have worked and paid taxes but now can’t work because of their health. That money can be used to pay for basic living expenses, medical equipment, medication, or anything that your insurance company doesn’t cover. The only requirement that you have to meet in order to file a claim is that you expect that your health won’t allow you to work for at least a year.
Disability and Medical Eligibility
The SSA has some strict requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for disability benefits. You must have a doctor’s diagnosis showing you have a condition that is listed in the SSA’s Blue Book. There are hundreds of conditions listed in the Blue Book and each one has a list of requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for benefits. The Blue Book is searchable online so you can find out if your illness is there.
Some of the more common conditions that can qualify a person for disability benefits include:
- Nerve disorders
- Back and Musculoskeletal disorders
- Lung disorders
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
When you file a claim for disability benefits you will need to submit medical documentation including your diagnosis with your claim. Statements from doctors and therapists, test results, treatment plans, and other medical documentation can all be used as evidence to support your claim.
Medical Vocational Allowance
If you meet the Blue Book listing requirements for the illness that you have then you won’t find it tough to be eligible for benefits. But what if you can’t work because of your illness and you don’t meet the listing in the Blue Book requirements? You can still be eligible for benefits if you ask for a Medical Vocational Allowance.
To get the Medical Vocational Allowance you must be too sick to perform the kind of work that you used to do. The SSA will perform a Residual Functional Capacity exam to see if there is a different kind of work that you can do. They will look at factors like how well you can see a screen or hear the phone, or if you can type or not, or if you can sit for four hours at a stretch throughout the day. If the SSA finishes the evaluation and finds that there isn’t any work that you can do with the symptoms or side effects of treatment that you have now, then you will be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Starting A Claim
It can take time to have a claim for disability benefits processed so don’t wait. You can apply online, but most people find it easier to apply in person. Make an appointment at your local SSA office and bring your medical records and documentation with you. A staff member at the SSA will help you fill out and submit your claim.
SSA’s Website: https://www.ssa.gov/
Blue Book Description: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/blue-book
Medical Vocational Allowance: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/glossary/medical-vocational-allowance
How to Apply Online: https://www.disabilitybenefitscenter.org/faq/apply-online
Local SSA Office: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp