There are two primary requirements that must be met in order to qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The first is that the person to receive coverage must have worked in a job that was covered by Social Security – in other words, must have worked in a job in which the person contributed part of earned wages to the Social Security system. This is how the system is funded, through the collective efforts of the American workforce, and anyone who contributes to the system is generally allowed to recover the benefit of the system should they ever need them. Social Security Disability compensation is intended for individuals whose injuries will prevent them from working for a period of at least one year.
Failure to provide adequate proof of an injury or disability is one of the biggest reasons why an application for benefits will be denied. Even if an application has been denied, an attorney can still help an applicant for benefits file an appeal to the decision and ensure that all of the proof that the Social Security Administration (SSA), the government body that regulates Social Security Disability benefits, will need to make an appropriate decision is included in an application packet. If a person has yet to file for benefits, then partnering with an attorney now is a great way to ensure that an application is submitted properly the first time, and to make sure that there are as few delays in the application process as possible. The attorney will review the case and will determine what type of evidence would be appropriate to provide in support of an application. Once this is decided, the attorney will help the applicant compile that proof and submit it to the SSA for a decision.
For meeting employment requirements for benefits, the applicant will have to determine how many work credits he or she has earned. One credit is awarded for every dollar amount of income earned in a year. For example, one credit is earned for every $1,160 of wages earned in 2013, but the value of a credit changes from year to year – which is why an experienced SSD benefits attorney should be consulted for help with calculating the number of work credits a person has. A person is generally required to have 40 work credits saved up with the SSA in order to qualify for SSD benefits, with at least half of those credits needing to have been earned in the last decade, but younger workers who become disabled may be able to qualify for SSD benefits with much fewer work credits. Again, an experienced disability benefits attorney should be consulted for more case specific advice.
Technically, SSD applicants are allowed to represent themselves through the initial filing of an application and through any appeals that may be necessary, but this is rarely advised. This is rarely advised because there is simply too much on the line to risk trying to handle the legal process without the help of an attorney. A case can only be appealed so far before a person loses his or her right to make a claim for compensation.