Do I Qualify
for Social Security Disability Benefits ?
There are two types of Social Security Disability benefits. This section will focus on Disability Insurance (or Title II) Benefits, which are available if:
- You have earned sufficient quarters by contributing to Social Security for a specified period of time (usually 5 out of the last 10 years), and you meet Social Security’s definition of disability below.
- You are the disabled widow, widower or divorced spouse of a Social Security wage earner.
- You have not yet graduated from high school and a parent is receiving benefits.
If you have not contributed to Social Security for the required period of time, you may still be eligible Supplemental Security Income (SSI or Title XVI) Benefits. For further information please see the section on SSI benefits.
SSA’s Definition of Disability (under 50 years of age)
The Social Security Administration uses a unique definition of disability. If you are under 50 years of age, you must have physical or mental impairments severe enough to keep you from working in any regular paying full-time job for at least 12 months. The exact regulation states “the inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” (Code of Federal Regulations, Title 20, Sections 404.1505).
If the condition has not lasted a full year by the time the application for disability is filed, you may still qualify if the disability examiner determines that your medical evidence indicates that your state of disability is expected to last a year or longer.
Meeting this definition of disability can be difficult. Social Security does not care if:
- You have a percentage loss-of-function,
- You are unable to return to your former job,
- You have no transportation to get to a job,
- You are unable to get a job, or
- There are no jobs in the immediate area where you live.
To be eligible for Social Security Benefits you must be unable to sustain any full-time work that exists in significant numbers in the region where you live, or in any other region of the national
While the above describes the basic requirements for eligibility for Social Security Disability, there are many exceptions relating to specific situations. To find out if YOU qualify for disability, call McGreal Disability Law at (312) 906-9444 for a free consultation.
SSA’s Definition of Disability (over 50 years of age)
If you are over 50 years of age, Social Security has more complex set of rules which are generally more favorable to you. These are called the Medical Vocational Guidelines or “Grid Rules.” You may be to perform some types of full-time work and still be eligible for disability. This is because Social Security understands that it is more difficult of people over 50 years old to change their career to a different type of job for which they have no experience. Under these rules, Social Security will take into consideration your past work, your remaining ability work, your education, your age, and your work experience.
The rules for individuals over 50 have many variables and are too complex to fully address on this site. To find out if YOU qualify for disability under these rules, you must call McGreal Disability Law at (312) 906-9444 for a free consultation.