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How Do I Know if My Medical Condition Qualifies for Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of medical conditions that they consider disabling, which they use to help decide who gets benefits. This list is divided into 14 categories, and each one has guidelines to help understand how the SSA looks at different conditions.

If your doctor is helping with your application, they should know the criteria the SSA uses to evaluate your condition. Make sure they understand how your condition keeps you from working and affects other areas of your life so they can include that in their notes.

Don't worry if your condition isn't on the list. You can still qualify if your condition is just as severe as those listed. The SSA will evaluate your condition to see if it meets their requirements.

Understanding Social Security Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are like insurance for people who can't work due to a medical condition. But applying for benefits can be tricky and you often need help from disability attorney like the ones at Seguro Social por Incapacidad. If you're thinking about applying, you need to understand what the folks reviewing your application will be looking for to see if you qualify.

Qualifying for Social Security Disability in Georgia

All applications go through the Social Security Administration (SSA). To qualify for SSD benefits, you need to:

  1. Have worked long enough in jobs that paid into Social Security taxes.
  2. Have a medical condition that the SSA considers a disability.
  3. Be unable to work due to your medical condition, which should last at least 12 months.

Understanding “Work Credits”

To qualify, you need a certain number of "work credits." Most people need 40 credits total, with 20 earned in the last 10 years before becoming disabled. Younger workers might need fewer credits.

These credits depend on how much you earn and pay in Social Security taxes. You can earn up to four credits a year if you're working. If you've worked a significant amount, you've probably earned enough credits to qualify for benefits.

If you don't have enough credits, you won't qualify for benefits. But don't worry! If you return to work, you can earn more credits, which stay on your record.

Getting Approved if You Qualify

Even if you meet the requirements, getting approved for benefits isn't always straightforward. The Social Security Administration (SSA) follows a specific process when they review your application.

To qualify, your medical condition must meet the SSA's disability criteria. They have a list of impairments that could qualify. Your condition must prevent you from doing basic work activities like walking, sitting, standing, lifting, or remembering for at least a year.

Understanding Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)

Your condition must keep you from doing what's called "substantial gainful activity" (SGA), which means you can't earn more than a specific amount each month. The amount changes yearly and was $1,220 for non-blind applicants and $2,040 for blind applicants in 2019. This amount doesn't include income from non-work sources like investments.

If you earn more than the SGA limit, the SSA won't consider you disabled. 

Otherwise, they'll look to see if you can do the work you did in the past 15 years. If not, they'll check if you can do other types of work, considering your education, age, skills, and any limitations.

You can't apply for benefits if you've been denied in the last 60 days or if you're currently receiving benefits on your Social Security record.

Can Disabled Spouses Receive Benefits?

If someone who paid into Social Security passes away, their spouse (including divorced spouses) may qualify for the worker’s benefits if they are disabled and meet the following conditions:

  1. They are between 50 and 60 years old.
  2. They became disabled before or within seven years of the worker’s death.
  3. Their condition meets the SSA's definition of disability.

How Do I Know if My Medical Condition Qualifies?

The SSA has a list of disabling conditions, divided into 14 sections, that outlines how they evaluate different medical conditions.

If your doctor is helping with your application, they should understand the criteria the SSA uses to evaluate your condition. Make sure your doctor knows how your condition keeps you from working and affects other areas of your life so they can include that in their notes.

You don't have to have one of the listed conditions to qualify for benefits. If your condition isn't on the list, the SSA will see if it's just as severe as those that are.

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