Many people struggle with the decision to file for Social Security Disability benefits when they can no longer work due to illness or injury. If you or a loved is considering whether to file an application for disability benefits, let me help you understand the criteria the Social Security Administration uses to review your file.
The SSA uses a five step process to make their decision.
If you are not working, your application will be reviewed by a Disability Determination Services office. If you are working, then almost by definition, you are establishing you CAN work. This is especially true if you are making more that about $1070 per month. I realize this puts you in a terrible spot. You are struggling with a serious and debilitating medical condition, but at the same time you need money to live and health care insurance and cannot quit your job. If that is the case, you need to speak to an attorney to determine how to balance your day-to-day financial needs with your disability application.
For instance, are you a secretary who can no longer use her hands due to carpal tunnel syndrome? That might prevent you from being able to type, file, or use the phone for long periods of time. Are you a long haul truck driver who cannot sit for long periods of time due to a severe back injury? If that's the case, your condition will dictate how long you can drive and whether you will be able to meet delivery deadlines. That's what meant by "interference" with your basic work related activities.
Some diagnoses are so severe that the SSA will automatically deem them to be totally disabling. Others may be severe but require documentation, doctor's reports, evaluations to assess your condition and perhaps your testimony. If you're not sure if your condition is on the SSA list, consult with an attorney to help you navigate through this most important step.
Even if your medical condition is debilitating, but not on the SSA's list of severe medical conditions, the SSA will then determine if you are able to work in a job that you held in the past. If it would be difficult to do any of your past jobs because of your medical condition, you may qualify for benefits.
The SSA will look at your background, education, medical conditions and aptitude to learn to determine if there's another type of job you could do that would allow you to work full time without your disability interfering with your work. It's a good idea to consider other types of employment before filing an application for disability benefits.
The decision to leave your job due to illness or injury is not to be taken lightly. Making sure you are in the best possible position to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits is an important part of that decision. If you need guidance with your application, don't hesitate to contact me for a free consultation.