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Orlando SSD Eligibility Attorney

Maitland & Orlando Disability Lawyer Explains Criteria for Social Security Disability

There’s no question about it; getting SSD benefits is hard. The vast majority of applications are initially rejected because the individual is denied either for medical reasons or reasons related to their work history. The documentation and evidence you provide in support of your application are relied on heavily in determining whether to accept or deny your request, so it’s incredibly important to understand the criteria for SSD eligibility. Learn more below about the strict requirements in place for social security disability benefits, and contact our Orlando SSD eligibility attorney at the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. in Maitland or Orlando if your application for SSD benefits has been turned down.

Sequential Evaluation – The Five-Step Process

The Social Security Administration (SSA) utilizes a five-step process to determine eligibility for SSD. These steps are sequential, meaning the process could stop if at any stage the SSA determines you are or are not disabled. These steps look at factors such as your medical condition, age, education, skill levels and work history. In brief, the five steps ask the following questions:

  • Can the claimant perform Substantial Gainful Activity?
  • Is the medical condition severe?
  • Is the condition listed on the SSA’s list of impairments, or is it equal in severity to a listed disability?
  • Can the claimant perform any Past Relevant Work?
  • Can the claimant perform any other work?

Each one of these steps is very complex and involve a series of further inquiries and investigation, such as a Residual Functional Capacity assessment.

The medical basis for SSD eligibility

The medical definition for SSD eligibility is very strict. Basically, you must be able to prove the following through medical evidence and supporting documentation:

  • You are permanently disabled from working, or your earning capacity has been significantly and permanently diminished
  • You have medical evidence that certifies your injury is permanent, is expected to last for at least a year, or is likely to eventually cause death

Qualifying for SSD based on work history

Besides having a condition that meets the SSD medical definition of disability, you must also qualify for SSD based on your earnings over your lifetime and how much you have worked recently. For this determination, the SSA uses both a “recent work” test and a “duration of work” test.

These tests are based on the concept of a “work credit.” You acquire work credits based on your earnings, and you can earn up to four work credits in a year. The value of a work credit is adjusted annually. For 2019, a work credit is equal to earning $1,360. So, once you have earned $5,440, you have obtained your four work credits for the year.

Generally speaking, you must have earned 40 work credits, including 20 work credits in the last ten years, to be eligible for SSD. Disabled workers who are 30 years old or younger may qualify with fewer credits.

While not a part of determining eligibility for SSD, your lifetime average earnings are also important, as they play an important role in determining how much you can receive in SSD benefits.

Our Experienced Orlando Disability Attorney Can Help You with Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits

We can help you determine if you are eligible for SSD and file an application or appeal on your behalf. Call the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. for help with social security disability benefits in Maitland and Orlando.

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