How to Qualify for SSDI
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How to Qualify for SSDI

If you have been injured resulting in a disability that prevents you from returning to your job, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The amount of benefits you will be eligible for depends on your work record. This means that you will likely receive what your Social Security retirement benefit would have been if you continued to work until retirement age.

The following information will help you determine whether you qualify for SSDI and what benefits you can expect to collect.

First, you must establish whether or not you qualify for disability benefits. Generally speaking, benefits are paid to people who are unable to work due to an injury or illness that is expected to last at least a year, or result in death.

Five-Step Process in Determining Eligibility

If you are able to work and earn more than a specified threshold each month as determined by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you are not considered to be disabled. It is possible, however, to collect SSDI and work at the same time.

Your injury or illness must prevent you from being able to perform basic work activities, such as standing or walking, for a minimum of one year.

If above criteria are met, the SSA compares your medical condition to a list of impairments that they deem severe enough to prevent someone from being able to work. If it is, you qualify as having a disability.

The SSA will need to determine whether or not your disability is preventing you from doing your specific job. For example, if your disability prevents you from doing any heavy lifting, but most of your job is done while sitting at a desk, your disability may not qualify for benefits.

The SSA will decide if you are able and qualified to perform other job responsibilities in order to remain employed.

The next step in determining whether you qualify for benefits is to determine whether you have worked long enough. To do so, you will need to pass the following two tests:

Recent Work Test: This depends on your age and how much you have worked in a period of time before you became disabled. For example, you can pass the recent work test if you became disabled at age 31, and you worked during five out of the 10-year period prior to becoming disabled.

Duration of Work Test: This tells you how many years you need to have worked in order to qualify for SSDI benefits. The test is based on a sliding scale determined by your age. 

How Much Will You Receive in Disability Benefits?

You can get a realistic idea of what your disability benefits would be if you review your latest Social Security statement and set up an account on the SSA’s website. An example of estimated disability benefits for an individual who worked long enough to qualify, and whose expected retirement benefit is $1,762, would be $1,596. Our Maryland Social Security disability lawyers can also help you with this.

Processing SSDI claims can be a time-consuming process, often taking up to five months to resolve. In order to avoid delays, make sure that you have the following information available when you apply:

Your Social Security number
Contact information for doctors, hospitals, and any other individuals that are relevant to your disability
Medication information
Medical records
Laboratory/test results
Employment records
Your latest W-2 and tax records

One of Maryland’s “Super Lawyers,” Paul Tolzman received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Loyola University Maryland and earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Baltimore School of Law. He was admitted to practice before Maryland Courts in 1977. Mr. Tolzman has extensive litigation experience in criminal/DUI defense. In addition, in the personal injury arena, his firm has recovered over $100 million for his clients.

Copyright LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, PA
By LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton, PA 
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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.
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