In this article, you will learn:
- The range of factors that determine a disability
- Who and what determines the qualifications
Social Security disability benefits are primarily a financial benefit that’s available to people who have either worked and paid into Social Security, or meet financial criteria to be able to qualify for SSI benefits. A disability under Social Security is defined as a medical condition, either physical, mental or some combination, that would keep this person from being able to work for at least a period of 12 months or results in death.
Physical And Mental Disabilities That May Qualify Someone For Social Security Disability Benefits
The initial milestone is that the person filing has a medical condition that is going to more than just minimally interfere with the ability to function in the workplace. Generally, what Social Security is talking about is that you have a condition that is going to prevent you from performing any job for at least a 12-month period. For example, it could be a back injury, joint problem, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, a heart condition, bipolar disorder, or any number of things. I would say that the most consistent ones you see are people who have either orthopedic or musculoskeletal issues that are causing chronic pain problems, or on the flip side, people who have long term mental health challenges, like bipolar disorder, PTSD, depression, or anxiety.
Qualifying For Disability Benefits
You can qualify for disability benefits as long as the medical condition is going to keep you from working for at least a 12-month period. If the condition improves after the 12 month milestone, then you can still qualify for the time that you were unable to work. For instance, someone who got sick and was unable to function in a job for 365 days in a row would be able to qualify for benefits even if on day 366, they are able to go back to work.
The Social Security Administration’s Considerations For Mental Illness
Mental illness can be disabling. As with all medical conditions, being diagnosed is not enough. Social Security is evaluating the severity of the condition. A lot of people, for example, may have a diagnosis of depression or bipolar disorder and be able to continue functioning at working as they receive medical treatment. What Social Security is looking at are the ones that aren’t able to continue functioning in spite of the fact that they are seeing a doctor, taking prescribed medication, or receiving another form of consistent medical treatment.
Who Determines Whether You Qualify For Disability Benefits
On the medical side of things, after an application is filed, the claim goes to a state agency called Disability Determination Services. Each state has its own Disability Determination Services office, or DDS office, and they oversee the collection of medical documentation for the claim. They may have the individual who is filing for benefits evaluated by a doctor that Social Security or DDS has chosen for either a mental health or a physical health evaluation, or for testing, like an x-ray. In the initial application and the first appeal, it’s primarily DDS that is doing that medical evaluation. After that, if the claim has been denied twice, it goes in front of a judge, and they are responsible for reviewing all the medical content and making that determination of whether somebody meets the medical criteria for disability.
How Social Security Disability Benefits Are Calculated
Social Security Disability is a federal program. There are a couple of different ways that someone can get access to these benefits, but the process is the same wherever you are in the country.
The Social Security Disability Insurance program provides benefits based on what you’ve paid into Social Security by paying Social Security taxes when you work. The amount of the benefit is calculated based on what you’ve paid into the system over the course of your career. As you can guess from this, a minimum wage worker is not going to receive the same benefit amount from Social Security Disability Insurance as someone who had a high salary job will under that program.
Separately, if you can qualify for SSI, which is a supplemental income benefit (it works like a welfare disability benefit). You really have to have very little income or resources available to you in order to be able to qualify for SSI. The amount of that benefit is capped by law in 2022 at $841 in a month. Still, it can be lower than that depending on whether you have access to other sources of income. For instance, if your spouse has income or if somebody is paying your rent or utilities, then Social Security would make a reduction in the SSI benefit based on those other sources of income.
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