Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration pays monthly cash benefits to disabled workers and their families. In general, your monthly benefit will be equal to about what you would have received if you had retired at age 65. Disability benefits are paid for as long as you are disabled or until you reach full retirement age when your benefits will be automatically changed to retirement benefits.
In general, you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits if you worked at least 5 out of the last 10 years before you became disabled. There are different rules for younger workers. If you don’t meet these requirements, you may still be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
A disability can be physical or mental and must be severe enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 consecutive months.
There are many rules for establishing proof of disability under Social Security regulations. In general, you are entitled to monthly disability benefits if you are unable to work due to a physical or mental condition that is expected to last for at least 12 months in a row. You must be unable to do your regular job as well as any other type of work. Some rules can allow you to establish disability based on your medical condition alone (the “Listings”) while others allow you to establish disability based on your physical or mental condition as well as your age, education and work history (the “Grids”). There are also rules that allow someone over the age of 50 to qualify for benefits even if they are able to perform some types of work.
Proof of Disability
- The "Listings"
The Social Security regulations include a list of medical conditions (the “listings”) that are deemed to be disabling. You must only prove that you meet the criteria for the listed condition to prove that you are disabled. The criteria to “meet or equal” the listings is not always easy. Your medical records must include specific information to meet the criteria to win a case using the listings. You can still prove your case in other ways even if you do not meet the criteria for a listing.
- The "Grids"
The Social Security regulations also include a set of Medical-Vocational Guidelines (the “Grids”) that include charts for proving disability based on your physical disability as well as your age, education, and job skill level from your work experience. The “Grids” allow someone over the age of 50 to prove disability even if they are able to perform some types of light work.
- Other Proof
All rules for establishing disability require specific medical evidence. The Listings and the Grids are basically shortcuts to proving disability. Even if your condition does not meet a Listing or qualify under the Grids, you can still be found eligible for benefits if you can prove that you are not able to work. The proof would be within your medical records. It is important that the medical records and reports of your doctors include specific information to support your claim of disability. It is often necessary to request that doctors provide additional information that is not included in the medical records to meet the requirements of the rules.
Applications can be completed on-line or at your local Social Security office. If you are denied benefits on your application, you may request reconsideration by filing a form called “Request for Reconsideration” within 60 days. The records of your claim will be re-examined and you may submit additional evidence to support your claim. If the Request for Reconsideration is denied, you may appeal by filing a form called “Request for Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge” within 60 days. Your case will then be transferred to the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review where you will have the opportunity to present additional evidence and testify before a Judge who will decide your claim. From that decision, additional appeals may be made to an Appeals Council and then to Federal District Court.
Gary Levine has over 25 years of success in representing clients in Social Security Disability cases.
Call or send an e-mail to schedule a free phone or office consultation about your case. There is no fee unless you receive compensation for your injury. Home and hospital visits are available for your convenience.
For more information: Visit the Online Social Security Handbook