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What are the Criteria for Social Security Disability Benefits in Orlando?

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Getting approved for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits can be challenging. Most applications that are submitted wind up rejected, primarily due to medical reasons or because of issues related to the applicant’s work history. This is why it’s so important to thoroughly review the documentation and evidence you are providing with your application. This plays an important role in whether or not your application will be accepted.

An Orlando Social Security disability eligibility attorney can help you prepare and understand all the eligibility criteria. At the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A., we specialize in helping clients with their Social Security disability eligibility if they have been turned down before.

Understanding the Five-Step Process for SSD Eligibility

In order to establish an applicant’s eligibility, the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses a five-step process. These are sequential steps. What this means is the process could stop at any stage if the SSA determines you’re not disabled. These steps consider factors like your age, work history, medical condition, and education.

To understand the eligibility process, there are questions that you must answer:

  • Can you perform Substantial Gainful Activity?
  • Is your medical condition severe?
  • Is your medical condition included on the list of SSA’s impairments, or is your disability one that is equal in severity to a listed disability one?
  • Can you perform any Past Relevant Work?
  • Are you able to perform any other work?

SSD Eligibility: Medical Basis and Work History 

To qualify for SSD benefits on a medical basis, you need to show documentation that proves:

  • You are now permanently disabled due to your job, or that your earning capacity has been severely and permanently diminished.
  • You are in possession of medical evidence that will certify your injury is a permanent one, or it will last at least a year or more, or is likely to eventually cause your death.

In addition to having a condition that meets the definition of disability, you also have to qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on your lifetime earnings, and how much you have worked recently. To meet the criteria for work history, the Social Security Administration will use two tests — a recent work test and a duration of work test.

These tests use work credits. You will receive work credits based on your earnings. You can earn a maximum of four work credits in any one year, and values will be adjusted annually. For example, in 2019, one work credit equaled $1,360. For 2020, the value of each work credit is $1,410. Once you have earned $5,640 this year, you will receive four work credits.

The general rule is you must earn 40 work credits, 20 of which must be in the last 10 years. If you are under the age of 30, you may be able to qualify with fewer credits. Lifetime average earnings are not part of your eligibility criteria, but reviewers look at them to determine how much you will receive in benefits.

Contact an Orlando Social Security Disability Lawyer

If your Social Security disability benefits application was denied, you need to speak with an experienced Orlando SSD eligibility lawyer. Contact the Law Offices of Shea A. Fugate, P.A. today to schedule an initial consultation.

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