Individuals whose ability to work has been significantly impacted by a chronic mental or physical condition may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, benefits. In order to become eligible, applicants must meet strict Social Security disability guidelines pertaining to income, work history and prognosis.
Social Security Disability Guidelines for Earnings
A prerequisite to obtaining disability benefits involves the applicant working and paying Social Security taxes for five of the previous 10 years. The individual’s occupation will play a role in determining eligibility as workers may not have previously performed the same type of work while having the same disability in the past. SSDI guidelines prohibit workers from earning more than $1,040 per month if they are claiming to be disabled, and that amount increases to $1,740 for those applying for disability due to blindness.
Social Security Disability Guidelines Pertaining to Age
Age is an important factor in determining eligibility as well; applicants must have become disabled prior to reaching full retirement age, which is generally between age 65 and 67. SSDI guidelines require those who have already reached this benchmark to apply for Social Security retirement benefits instead.
Children under 18 can also be eligible for benefits, so long as the child has a “medically determinable physical or mental impairment that causes marked and severe functional limitations.” The condition must be expected to ultimately result in the death of the child and have already persisted for a continuous 12-month period or be expected to last for a continuous 12-month period.
Ability to Perform Work
Social Security disability guidelines additionally require that the alleged disability should significantly impact one’s ability to perform work. The worker can be affected physically, mentally or a combination of the two. An individual could be unable to stand, sit, lift, push, pull or carry items for extended periods of time, for instance, or it might also be difficult for him or her to see, hear or speak. Those who are affected by a mental disability could have trouble remembering details, carrying out instructions or simply be unable to deal with supervisors or customers. Mental disabilities that result in employees becoming unduly stressed when changes are made in the workplace are also addressed in official Social Security disability guidelines.
Duration of Disability
Social Security disability guidelines require that the alleged disability must have either already lasted for one full year or be expected to last for one full year. During that time, doctors should anticipate that the condition is severe enough that it will prevent the individual from performing substantial gainful activity, which is work that would provide a significant amount of income each month.
Nature of Past Work
Just because an individual has a debilitating physical or mental condition, this does not automatically qualify him or her for disability benefits. In reviewing a claim, an administrator will also look at the type of work that person has performed in the past along with the amount and type of education he or she has obtained. If it appears that an individual might be qualified to perform a different type of work than he or she is currently engaged in, Social Security disability guidelines allow for the claim being denied based upon that fact.
Social Security disability guidelines are intended to help program administrators determine who might be qualified to receive these benefits. Although Social Security disability guidelines tend to streamline the process by determining who is not eligible, approval for payments could take several months since medical records need to be obtained and reviewed in detail.