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Qualifying for SSD Benefits

Find Out If You are Eligible For Social Security Disability Benefits-Call Us Today!

Many New Yorkers don't apply for Social Security Disability benefits because they think they won't be eligible, but there are many reasons you could qualify for SSD payments. As experienced SSD lawyers helping injured and disabled New Yorkers, we will help assess your situation, from applying for disability benefits to appealing a Social Security Disability denial on your behalf.

Who is eligible for Social Security Disability?

There are fundamentally two requirements to be eligible for SSDI benefits. First, you need to have paid into the Social Security system, and second, you need a qualifying condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (that is, from working to earn a living).

The 5-year rule in Social Security Disability claims

To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked a certain number of years in jobs covered by Social Security. For most people, that means you must have worked five of the last 10 years. If you are under age 31, you may be eligible with a shorter work history. Our attorneys can analyze your work history and explain whether you qualify.

Understanding qualifying conditions

A qualifying medical condition is an injury or illness that prevents you from working and has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months. A wide variety of medical conditions can qualify for SSDI, from musculoskeletal disorders to lost limbs to traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and spinal cord injuries (SCI).

The Social Security Administration’s “Blue Book” is a list of medical conditions it will consider for SSDI benefits. However, just because your medical condition is on the list doesn’t mean you automatically qualify, and just because your condition isn’t on the list doesn’t mean you don’t qualify. Ultimately, it’s not about the medical condition; it’s about whether you can work with that condition. The same disease may be manageable for one person and crippling for another.

The substantial gainful activity (SGA) income threshold

Under some circumstances, it’s possible to qualify for SSD even if you are still working, but your earnings must be below a certain limit. The Social Security Administration defines substantial gainful activity (SGA) as earning above a certain amount monthly. (This amount changes every year.) SGA only includes work you do for pay or profit, not passive income.

If your earnings are above the SGA threshold, your SSD application will be denied. However, even if your earnings are below the threshold, if the SSA determines that you could earn more than this amount, your application would likely be denied. For example, if you are currently doing volunteer work, but you could be paid for similar work, then the SSA may look at the market value of the work to determine your eligibility.

How age affects your eligibility for SSDI

Any adult with a qualifying work history and medical condition can be eligible for SSDI, but in general, it’s easier to qualify if you are over 50. For younger applicants, the Social Security Administration considers whether you can perform any substantial gainful activity, even if you would need retraining to do it. Once you hit age 50, the SSA doesn’t expect you to change careers completely as you get closer to retirement age, so it only looks at jobs that you have already done or are already trained and experienced to do.

Social Security Disability Eligibility Can Be Complicated

The federal government has a clear definition of disability, and if you meet that definition and certain earnings requirements, you may be eligible to receive monthly SSD payments. Convincing the government that you are eligible is the challenge, and nearly impossible to do without a fierce SSD attorney by your side. You may also qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits, which help low-income New Yorkers, those with limited resources and self-employed people.

The compassionate, seasoned SSD attorneys at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano, LLP serve injured and disabled New Yorkers from Manhattan, Staten Island and Brooklyn to Westchester and Long Island. Call us today at (800) 692-3717 or contact us online for a free evaluation. You pay nothing unless you win and there is no obligation.