Millions of people in the United States currently receive monthly Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are awarded to qualified individuals who are no longer able to work due to a disabling mental or physical condition. But unfortunately, obtaining SSDI benefits is not easy. In fact, it’s rather difficult.
Approximately 70% of initial SSDI claims are denied every year. In other words, less than one-third of initial claims are approved. Why is it so hard to get approved for SSDI benefits? Who qualifies for these benefits? How can a Tampa Social Security disability attorney help? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and more.
Who is Eligible for SSDI Benefits?
Before you apply for SSDI benefits, it’s important to find out whether or not you qualify.
There are two main requirements that you must meet in order to qualify for SSDI benefits, which are:
- You must have what the SSA considers to be a disabling mental or physical condition, and
- You must have earned enough work credits.
How Does the SSA Determine If You Are Disabled?
You do not qualify for SSDI benefits unless you are suffering from a condition that is totally disabling. The SSA will only consider you totally disabled if you meet these conditions:
- You are unable to work in the same position you held prior to becoming disabled; and
- You are unable to perform any type of substantial gainful activity, which means you are incapable of performing work where you can earn at least $1,260 per month; and
- Your disabling condition has lasted or is expected to last for a period of at least one year or your disabling condition will result in death.
If you meet these three conditions, the SSA will consider you disabled, which means you could qualify for SSDI benefits.
What Are Work Credits?
A work credit is earned by working and earning income. You will earn one credit every time you earn a specific amount of income. The amount of income you need to earn a work credit will vary slightly from year-to-year. In 2020, for example, you can earn one work credit for every $1,410 of income you bring in.
But there is a limit on the number of work credits you can earn per year. The maximum number of work credits you can earn per year is four. This means only the first $5,640 of income per year will be used to earn work credits.
You will only qualify for SSDI benefits if you have earned an adequate number of work credits. The exact number you will need to qualify will depend on how old you were when you first became disabled.
The number of work credits you will need typically increases as you get older. For example, if you became disabled at the age of 40, you would need 20 work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. But if you did not become disabled until the age of 50, you would need 28 work credits to qualify.
Why Are SSDI Benefits Denied?
There are a number of reasons why so many SSDI claims are denied by the SSA.
As previously mentioned, the SSA will not approve your claim unless you are able to prove that you meet the legal definition of disabled. To prove this, you must submit medical documentation to the SSA. However, many people fail to submit enough medical evidence to prove that they are actually disabled, so the SSA has no choice but to deny their application.
There is no such thing as too much when it comes to providing medical documentation to the SSA. It’s best to submit as much as possible to ensure the SSA has what it needs to approve your claim. Examples of medical documentation you will need to submit include:
- Official diagnoses
- Hospital room visit logs
- Diagnostic testing and results
- Lab results
- Medical treatment history
- Prescription medication history
You should also ask your physician to prepare a statement that explains the severity of your condition and how it affects your ability to work.
You could also be denied as a result of your monthly income. The SSA will not approve you for SSDI benefits if you perform work that brings in more than the substantial gainful activity rate, which is $1,260 per month in 2020. If you are working and earning more than this rate every month, you will not qualify for benefits.
Your application could also be denied if you are unwilling to cooperate with the SSA. For instance, if the SSA asks you to provide additional documentation but you fail to do so in a timely manner, the SSA will have to deny your claim.
Your claim can also be denied if you fail to follow your doctor’s orders regarding treatment for your disability. It is impossible for the SSA to determine if you meet the legal definition of being disabled if you are not listening to your doctor’s recommendations. Failing to follow your doctor’s orders indicates that you are not fully committed to recovering because you want to get approved for benefits.
Seek Legal Representation From A Social Security Disability Attorney
It’s no secret that SSDI benefits are hard to obtain, which is why it’s strongly recommended that you don’t apply for these benefits without a skilled attorney’s help. If you are disabled, seek legal representation from the Social Security disability attorneys at Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett as soon as possible. With over 125 years of combined legal experience, our team knows what it takes to reach the best possible outcome in your case. Our results speak for themselves—we have successfully won over $50 million in Social Security benefits for our clients.
Contact our law firm now to schedule a free consultation regarding your case.