If you suffer from a total disability and cannot work, you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. These monthly payments can make a big difference for you and your family. Here, our Texas disability benefits lawyers provide a brief overview of these benefits and the requirements that you must meet to qualify for them.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Programs
First, you should understand the two basic types of benefits programs that the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides to eligible disabled citizens in Texas and throughout the country:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – If you have worked long enough and paid enough into the system, you may be eligible for these disability benefits regardless of your assets or income prior to the onset of your disability.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – This is a needs-based program for those who have not paid into the system long enough to be eligible for SSDI benefits, including children.
So, if you fail to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may still be eligible for SSI benefits. You should consult with an experienced lawyer to determine all options available to you.
Total Disability Requirement
The term “disability” can mean different things. For instance, your condition may qualify you to receive disability benefits through the workers’ compensation system. However, the condition may not meet the SSA’s definition of a disability.
Generally, the SSA defines a qualifying disability as one that prevents you from earning a certain amount of income each month – or engaging in “substantial gainful activity” – and which is:
- A mental or physical impairment that can be medically proven; and
- Has lasted (or is expected to last) for at least 12 months or to result in death.
When you apply for Social Security disability benefits, Texas Disability Determination Services (DDS) will review your information and determine whether you suffer from a qualifying disability. To make this determination, DDS will go through the SSA’s five-step sequential evaluation process. Those five steps are:
- Are you engaged in substantial gainful activity? If you work and earn above a certain amount each month – in 2018, that amount is $1,970 for statutorily blind individuals and $1,180 for non-blind individuals – the SSA will consider you to be engaged in substantial gainful activity and not disabled.
- Do you suffer from a “severe” condition? In other words, does your condition interfere with basic work activities? If it does, your evaluation will move to the next step. If not, then you will not be considered to be disabled.
- Do you have a listed impairment? The SSA has a list of impairments that are so severe that, if you suffer from one of those impairments or have a condition that is equal in severity to one, you will be deemed to be disabled. If you do not have a listed or equal impairment, your evaluation will go to the next step.
- Can you do your previous work? DDS will conduct what is called a “residual functional capacity” assessment. First, DDS will want to know if your condition prevents you from doing the work you did before the onset of your condition. If so, DDS will move to the next step. If not, then you will not be deemed to be disabled.
- Can you do any other work? Given your age, education, work experience and transferable skills, could you adapt to any other type of work? If not, then you will be considered to be disabled and medically eligible for benefits. However, if you can adjust to different work, you will not be eligible for benefits.
In conclusion, if you accumulate a minimum of 40 work credits from the SSA, you may qualify for SSDI. Half of those credits need to be been earned within the last 10 years before becoming disabled. But under other circumstances, younger individuals may need less than 40 work credits.
Kraft & Associates Can Help You Pursue SSD Benefits
Regretfully, many people face obstacles when they apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, and they must appeal a denied application. At Kraft & Associates, P.C., we have helped injured and disabled Texans since 1971. We can work with you to appeal a denied claim and fight for the benefits you deserve. To get started, contact us today and receive a free consultation.