If you have a physical problem, mental health condition or a combination of problems severe enough that you are unable to work at a regular job for at least one year or that is likely to result in your death, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
A complex set of regulations considering your age, education, past work experience and medical conditions are used to determine whether or not you are eligible for SSDI benefit. Let our firm help you navigate your Social Security claim.
- SSDI benefits are available to disabled workers, dependents and surviving spouses living in Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. There are certain minimum past work requirements that need to be met.
- You are disabled if you are unable to “engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which:
- can be expected to result in death, or
- has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
A Social Security applicant must possess “physical or mental impairments of such severity that they are not only unable to do their previous work but cannot, considering their age, education, and work experience, engage in any other type of substantial gainful work existing in the national economy.”
Qualification for Social Security Disability Benefits
The SSA uses a five step test to determine eligibility for disability benefits:
- Current employment—At the first step, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider your work activity, if any. If you are doing Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), a determination will be made that you are not disabled. Here is a link to an SSA website that further explains SGA and the maximum amount that someone can earn and still be considered to be disabled: http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/COLA/sga.html
- Severe impairment – At the second step, SSA will consider the medical severity of your impairment(s). If you do not have one or more severe medically determinable physical or mental impairments which, singly or in combination, has lasted or can be expected to last at least 12 months OR that will result in death, a determination will be made that you are not disabled.
- Disabling impairment list—At the third step, SSA has a list of specific impairments for individual body systems which are so severe that they automatically entitle an applicant to disability benefits. SSA may also decide that your condition is equally severe to those conditions on the list. If so, you will be found disabled. If not, your claim will be evaluated at the next step.
- Prior work—At the fourth step, SSA will evaluate the work that you have done within the 15 years prior to the date that you say you became disabled and compare it to your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). Your RFC is the level of work activities that you can still do in a work setting despite the physical or mental limitations caused by your impairment(s). If SSA determines that you are capable of performing any of the jobs that you have done in those prior years, you will not be disabled.
- Equivalent work—At the fifth and last step, SSA will consider the assessment of your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to other work. The test here is not jobs that you’ve necessarily done in the past or even jobs that are available in the immediate area in which you live. The test will be whether you can be employed in a job available in the national economy. If you can make an adjustment to other work, SSA will find that you are not disabled. If you cannot make an adjustment to other work, SSA will find that you are disabled.
INJURED? DISABLED? GET ACTION!
We can help complete and file your Minnesota, South Dakota and Iowa Social Security Disability application and forms. Contact us to get started on resolving your Social Security Disability claim. Remember, consultations with prospective clients on Social Security Disability cases are free of charge.