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Social Security Disability Benefits

Posted by attorney Morgan Gray


What is Social Security Disability?

Social Security Disability is a federal insurance program funded by taxes, specifically, FICA. If you have worked long enough, paid Social Security taxes, and become disabled, you may qualify for these insurance benefits.

The following is an overview of how the Social Security Disability System works. For additional information or for assistance in filing a Disability Claim, we encourage you to contact an attorney.

Requirements of Social Security Disability Benefits:

In order to receive Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a medical condition that will either prevent you from working for at least one (1) year or that is expected to result in death. Your disability must be total, that is, you can not receive benefits if you are only partially disabled from work or if you have only a short term (less than one year) disability.

Who Else Can Receive Benefits?

In certain instances, your spouse and children may also be eligible for benefits.

If Approved, How Much Will You Receive? The amount of your monthly disability benefit is based on your average lifetime earnings.

How The Social Security Administration Makes Determinations of Benefits:

The Social Security Administration will review your application to determine whether you meet some basic requirements such as whether you worked long enough to qualify for benefits. If you meet these requirements, your application will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services in your state.

To be considered for benefits, you will need to provide medical reports from your physicians that explain when your medical condition began, the nature of your condition, including what various tests have shown, and how your medical condition limits your activities. The agency will want your physicians to answer questions about your ability to walk, sit, stand, lift and perform other work related activities. In some instances, the state will require that you be examined by a doctor chosen by the agency.

The Disability Determination Services Office will consider the following in deciding whether you are disabled:

Information in this pamphlet has been obtained from the Social Security Administration.

  1. Whether you are working;

  2. Whether your medical condition is "severe";

  3. Is your medical condition on the list of impairments: The list of impairments describes certain medical conditions considered so severe that they automatically qualify you as being disabled.

Examples of some impairments are: degenerative diseases such as Huntington's; epilepsy; Parkinsonian Syndrome; Lou Gehrig's disease and cerebral palsy.2

  1. If your condition is not on the list of impairments, it must be shown that your condition prevents you from doing the work you did before. If it does, the final hurdle is to show that you are not able to do any other work. To determine whether you are capable of doing other work, the state must consider not only your medical condition, plus also your age, education, skills and other work experience.

IT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY; to provide information needed for a determination. In addition to medical records, you must also provide: your social security number; your birth or baptismal certificate; names, addresses and phone numbers of all medical providers; names and dosages of your medication, if any; results of medical tests; a summary of your where you worked and the work that you have done; and a copy of either your most recent W-2 Form, or your federal tax return from the past year.

2 Please note that the list of impairments is extensive. For further information please feel free to visit (

General Litigation practice; emphasis on workers' compensation, Longshore and Harbor Workers' Act, maritime personal injury (Jone's Act), Social Security Disability, Accidental Disability Retirement and all matters pertaining thereto; additional practice areas include real estate (residential and commercial), small business representation, criminal law and insurance regulatory issues.

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