Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
In order to qualify to receive benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance, you must have worked for a long enough period at a job where your wages were subject to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax, commonly referred to as "FICA." Your payroll tax contributions are essentially the way that you pay premiums on this type of insurance.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks your earnings and assigns you credits based on this-for example, in 2012 you can earn a credit by earning $1,130, and you may accumulate up to 4 credits in one year. Your age will influence the number of credits required to be eligible, but for most people it is necessary to have accumulated a total of 40 credits, including 20 within the decade before you became disabled.
Next, you must demonstrate to the SSA that you have a qualifying disability. In the context of Social Security, "disability" has a very strict definition which may however be applied to a wide range of mental and physical conditions.
The basic elements of a disability are that you suffer from an injury, illness or other impairment with the result that you:
- Can no longer continue in the same line of work
- Will not be able to find another job that will pay you a suitable income
- Are expected to be disabled for at least a year
- Have been diagnosed with a terminal illness
Certain conditions will automatically qualify for benefits, such as many back injuries, cardiovascular illnesses, respiratory diseases and neurological disorders.
The Value of Your SSD Claim
The amount you can receive in benefits through Social Security Disability is based on your average lifetime wages. It is not a means-tested program which pays according to how much you need or in proportion to the severity of your injury. There are many factors which go into determining the value of any given claim, but the SSA reports that the average monthly benefit paid was $1,110.50 in 2011. As an example of how the worker's income determines the benefit amount, consider a worker born in 1965 who has been employed in a qualifying job throughout his or her career. If he or she earned $35,000 per year, the estimated benefit amount would be $823 per month, while the same worker earning $60,000 per year could be approved for a $1,166 benefit.
Helping You Obtain Benefits
To learn more about how much you may expect to receive in benefits, contact us now at Clawson & Clawson, LLP. An attorney from our team is prepared to meet with you for a free consultation to discuss your unique case and help you begin working on your claim. We have extensive experience with the entire claims process, and it is our goal to help you maximize the value of the benefits you can receive.