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Understanding Social Security Disability

The Social Security Disability (SSD) program is designed to provide much-needed benefits to individuals who have a serious disability that will prevent them from working for at least 12 months, or who have a condition that will result in death.

Not every disabled person qualifies for Social Security Disability benefits; in order to qualify for SSD benefits, you must have worked for a certain number of years in jobs that paid into the Social Security system; jobs for cash wouldn't count. Usually, this is about ten years. Once you meet the work requirement, your medical condition must be serious enough that it meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability.

How long does it take to receive a decision?
It depends on a number of factors, such as the nature of your condition, whether you need a medical examination, how quickly the SSA receives your medical documentation from your doctors, and whether the SSA feels it needs to review your application. If your application is very detailed and complete, that will help expedite the process.

How disabled do I have to be?
Basically, you have to be unable to perform any type of work. For example, if your condition causes you to be in a wheelchair, but you have good upper body control and you can still answer phones or do data entry work, then you may not be approved. If you are currently working and are able to do productive work despite your condition, you may not be eligible for disability benefits.

What is the waiting period?
For those who are eligible for SSD benefits, they must wait five months before their benefits can begin. The SSA pays the first benefit on the sixth month from the date the SSA determined that a disability started.

Can I receive SSDand retirement benefits?
If you receive SSD benefits and you reach full retirement age, your SSD benefits will automatically switch to retirement benefits. Unfortunately, people cannot receive both SSD and retirement benefits at the same time.

We hope this information answers some of your questions about Social Security Disability. To apply for SSD benefits, contact our firm to get started!