Q&A: How do I qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

The criteria for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits are the same in Wisconsin as they are elsewhere in the country. The first requirement is that an applicant must have sufficient work history before they are eligible to receive benefits. In certain circumstances, an applicant may receive benefits under a parent’s Social Security record.

For those with sufficient work history, the first determination is whether the applicant is working. Individuals earning over $1,070 per month generally are not considered disabled. If an applicant is not working or is earning less than $1,070, the next step is demonstrating that the applicant’s medical condition interferes with basic work activities.

The third requirement for obtaining Social Security Disability is that the applicant’s medical condition must appear on a list maintained by the Social Security Administration, or the applicant must demonstrate that his or her medical condition is equally as severe as medical conditions that do appear on the list. Applicants who meet this requirement as considered disabled. If an applicant’s medical condition is not considered sufficiently severe under the third requirement, the Social Security Administration next considers whether the applicant’s medical condition interferes with his or her ability to perform the job the applicant did previously. If so, the next determination is whether the applicant is capable of performing another type of work. Applicants who are unable to adjust to another type of work are deemed disabled.

Navigating the disability benefits application process, and trying to persuade the Social Security Administration that a disability exists, can be a challenging task. Specialized lawyers assist applicants through this process and serve as an advocate for clients before the Administration. Although each case is unique, experienced counsel can offer important assistance throughout this process.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: How We Decide If You Are Disabled“, October 24, 2014


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