The process of qualifying for SS disability in Dunedin is more complicated than many people realize. Social Security disability benefits are paid through two different programs with unique requirements. However, the process of proving that a disability is sufficient to meet the eligibility standards is similar for both programs. An experienced social security attorney may be able to help clarify what is necessary to meet the eligibility requirements.
The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) sets many of the standards and determines whether applicants qualify for benefits. However, the agency’s decisions may be reviewed by administrative law judges and federal courts and overturned if the evidence indicates that the staff made an improper determination.
Two SS Disability Programs
SSA administers two disability benefit programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI pays benefits to employees who can no longer work due to disability. To qualify for benefits under this program, an employee must have earned enough work credits. Because SSDI is an insurance program, workers must essentially pay the premium through taxes before they become eligible for benefits. The number of work credits needed varies according to the age of the worker at the onset of the disability.
In contrast, SSI does not have a work requirement. Instead, candidates must meet resource requirements to qualify for SS disability in Dunedin. Specifically, in addition to the disability, applicants must show that they have very low income and limited resources on which to support themselves.
The Definition of Disability
To receive Social Security disability benefits under either program, applicants must demonstrate that they meet the SSA’s definition of disability. First, they must demonstrate that they suffer from a “medically-determinable” physical or mental condition. Qualifying conditions must be expected to last continuously for at least one year or to result in death.
In addition, the disability must impair activity levels to the extent that it prevents the applicant from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity.” Notably, even part-time work may be considered substantial under SSA standards.
Evaluation of a Disability
The SSA uses a five-step process to assess whether an applicant’s condition constitutes a disability under agency guidelines. First, the agency considers whether the applicant is currently working and how much they are earning. If the amount earned is above the benchmark for substantial gainful activity, then the applicant will not be considered disabled.
The Severity of the Impairment
Next, the SSA examines the severity of the physical or mental condition. Qualifying for SS disability in Dunedin requires an impairment that interferes with basic work activities, such as walking, sitting, standing, and following instructions.
During the third step in the process, the agency considers whether an applicant’s condition meets one of the listed medical criteria maintained in the SSA guidelines. The agency will also review the applicant’s Residual Functional Capacity, which is a measurement of the ability to perform full-time work.
In step four, the SSA compares the applicant’s current abilities with past relevant work. If the applicant has no prior relevant work experience or is unable to perform previous work, the evaluation continues to step five.
The final step in the process involves a consideration of whether the applicant could perform other work. SSA considers the availability of other appropriate jobs and the applicant’s ability to adapt to new work.
Discuss Your Disability Qualifications with a Dunedin Attorney
Demonstrating that an applicant’s condition meets the SSA disability standard can be a challenging task. To increase their chances of success, many applicants choose to consult an attorney for help qualifying for SS disability in Dunedin. If the qualifications are not fully demonstrated in the initial application, they may be documented during a reconsideration or a hearing before an administrative judge.