How do I know if I am eligible for Social Security Disability?The rules can be found here: https://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/cfr20/404/404-1520.htm
In short, Social Security determines disability in a 5 step sequential evaluation.
Step 1, are you engaged in substantial gainful activity? If you are working close to 40 hours a week, or making over $1, 350.00 (2022) then you may not qualify. Ultimately you are proving to the Social Security Administration that you are unable to functionally work full time.
Step 2: Do you have a medically determinable psychological or physical impairment? If yes, it must be severe and objectively proven through medical records through testing and must last or be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
Step 3: Social Security has a listing of impairments that considers the medical severity of the conditions. One may meet or equal a “listing”. Please see the listings of impairments here : https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm
Step 4: If you do not meet or equal a listing at step 3, SSA will determine your residual functional capacity (what you can still functionally do, despite your impairments). An assessment of your past work and its exertional and non-exertional demands will be evaluated, to determine if you can still do that type of work, SSA will find that you are not disabled if you are able to return to past work.
Step 5: Is an assessment of your residual functional capacity and your age, education, and work experience to see if you can make an adjustment to other work. 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.
What kind of benefits are available to me?There are two types of disability from the Social Security Administration, Social Security Disability (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is disability that you pay into, through full-time gainful employment. Once you stop working, your work credits begin to expire. If your work credits are in the near past, you may still be eligible to apply for this benefit. Call your local Social Security office to find out what your “Date Last Insured” is. In addition under SSDI, you may be able to receive benefits under another number holder, including: Widows benefits, Disabled adult child benefits and Parents benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available for people who do not have enough work credits, are indigent, or for a child who is disabled. SSI is an income based program. This means that if you have income below a certain amount, you may qualify for SSI financially. If you receive food stamps it will not count toward income. If you receive cash aid or GR, it will count, and if approved benefits, your back pay in SSI or SSDI will be used to pay back what GR gave you. SSI can be supplemented with SSDI, if your payments for SSDI are below a certain threshold. For both benefits, SSDI and SSI, you must prove disability through recent medical records as well as records from your alleged onset date (the date you became disabled) that are objective (testing and imaging).