Social Security Disability Claims: What is a Qualifying Condition and How Long Do They Last?


Unfortunate events can occur anytime anywhere. Being a victim of circumstances can often make you unable to continue your regular work or any work altogether. If you’re one of those unfortunate souls who’ve been disabled by accident or illness, the Social Security Administration (SSA) tries to ensure that your basic needs are fulfilled through monetary compensation. 

However, there is much to it. In this article, we’ll go through the basics of Social Security Disability claims and how you can apply for them. In some cases, you may need the legal services of attorneys specializing in social security disability claims. 

What Is Social Security Disability Claim

Frequently addressed as Social Security Disability Insurance, the scheme strives to pay a monthly benefit to workers who are unable to continue their regular work due to illness or serious accidents. The claim is a part of the Social Security program that benefits senior Americans after their retirement. 

The Social Security Disability claim is provided to disabled workers or their dependant family members as a method of compensation for what they’ve provided for the economy in their working years. The monetary benefits also depend on the lifetime average earnings before they were disabled. In the year 2020, 9.5 million disabled workers or their dependents benefited from this insurance. 

How do You Qualify 

Before we can talk about the qualification criteria, let’s talk about what’s considered a disability under Social Security.

If an individual is physically or mentally impaired in such a way that they can’t engage in any gainful activity (a dollar amount), they are defined as disabled. However, their impairment must be medically determinable.

To be eligible for Social Security Disability claim, you must: 

  • Have previously worked in jobs covered by Social Security. 
  • Be deemed disabled by the definition of SSA. 
  • Be or haven’t been unable to work for more than a year. 
  • Gain credit points between 6 to 20 depending on your age to be eligible for the claim. If you’re more than 31 years of age, you need at least 20 credits in the last 10 years before disability begins.  

In general, one credit is given to workers who’ve earned $1510 in wages or self-employment income. You can earn 4 credits at most each year. 

Learn more about the credits and work years from here

How Much Is the Claim

According to the Annual Statistical Report, the average monthly benefit received by disabled workers was $1227.05. As this is a mean value, depending on your employment period and earnings, this can vary between $1200-$3000.

The claims are paid from the Social Security taxes you pay as a worker. Both employers and workers pay their share of taxes to sustain the Social Security Disability benefits. However, the maximum taxable earnings are adjusted with the average wage. For instance, in 2022, if you earn up to $147,000, you’re liable to pay Social Security taxes.  

Benefits Associated With Social Security Disability Claims

The benefits associated with Social Security Disability claims are directed towards supporting the disabled worker and the family members dependent on them. The benefits include: 

  1. Monthly cash compensation. The worker and the family members get the full benefit from the service until they reach the age of retirement. Then the disability claims are converted into retired-worker benefits.
  2. In case the disabled worker dies, the eligible family members (widower, children, etc.) are entitled to their claims. However, the spouse is only entitled to the claims if they’re over 62 years of age or have children under 16 years of age. They also are able to claim the full benefits if they’re responsible for a disabled adult child. 
  3. In case the widower is also disabled, they’re eligible for the full benefits over 50 years of age.  
  4. If the children of the disabled workers are disabled before the age of 22, they’re entitled to claim the benefits. 
  5. Medicare benefits are available after 2 years of eligibility. 
  6. Vocational rehabilitation services are available for workers who could return to work with healthcare assistance. 

Disadvantages of Social Security Disability Claim

Some drawbacks are also associated with Social Security Disability claims. Such as: 

  1. There is a mandatory 5-month long waiting period after the application. In this period, the applications are reviewed through medical documents. Moreover, if the documents aren’t sufficient, they might also need to go through the consultative examination. Although it’s paid by SSA.
  2. The evaluation process is long and requires a lot of answers. For instance, if the disabled person is still working and earning more than the claim amount, they aren’t considered disabled. The severity of the disability is also considered. If an impairment doesn’t interfere with their regular work, they aren’t considered eligible. 
  3. If the person is capable of doing another sort of work not related to their previous job, they might get disapproved. However, it all depends on their age, experience, and skillset. If they’re close to retirement age, they aren’t expected to take on a different career with their disability and the application is often approved. 
  4. A person who is partially blind but has a vision better than 20/200, special rules apply to them.  

How Long Does the Claim Last

As long as the person is incapable of doing any gainful activity to support themselves, the claims are applicable. In case the disabled person is able to work again, the benefits stop existing. Moreover, if the beneficiary dies without leaving any eligible family members, the benefits stop. 

How to Apply 

At the initial stage, you’re required to file an application for your disabled family member at a Social Security office with all the necessary documents. An SSA employee verifies all the non-medical requirements like age, credits, and relation to the disabled worker. If the documents are verified, the files are forwarded to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office in the state where the worker lives. Then the whole evaluation process is performed to determine the eligibility of the claims. 

However, the applications are often rejected the first time. If possible, go through a social security disability lawyer to file your application to make it more effective. 

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, you’ve understood what Social Security Disability claim is and the eligibility requirements for it. We also discussed the benefits and possible claim amounts associated with the compensations. Although not very hard, it’s better to consult a lawyer to aid you in filing the application.  

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