Can I collect disability if I have been seriously injured and unable to work?

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Experiencing an injury so severe that it takes you out of the workplace can be devastating. People who find themselves suddenly injured or who must begin to take more time off due to a chronic illness or other medical condition are often stunned to find out just how woefully underprepared many employers are for such circumstances. One of the options to keep yourself afloat during the time you cannot earn any income due to any of the aforementioned conditions is by collecting disability benefits.

Sure, that may sound simple and straightforward, but unfortunately, it can be a complex process that drags individuals on and on until they either receive their benefits or give up entirely. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to streamline your chances of being approved for disability benefits and receiving these benefits.

What Disability Benefits are Available?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is the governmental entity that is responsible for determining your eligibility for disability income (also known as Social Security Disability Income, or SSDI, and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI). These benefits are available to two main groups of people:

  • People who have a substantial history of work and payment into the system over a long period of time can qualify for SSDI depending on how much their taxes have paid.
  • Those who either do not have a strong work history or none at all and have not paid into the system, but do not own assets or have a steady stream of income qualify for SSI. These benefits are typically less than that offered to SSDI-recipients.

How Do I Qualify for Disability?

Applying for disability benefits is perhaps one of the most stressful processes to endure in relation to any governmental authority. Only about 1/3 of applicants are approved at the “Initial Application” level, leaving the rest to have to hire an attorney for the appeal. Since there are so many applicants for disability benefits (more than 2 million people in 2019), SSA has set strict guidelines on what does and does not qualify for disability benefits.

To name a few, anyone who is considering applying for disability benefits must conform to the following:

  • A physical or mental impairment
  • This impairment must in some way prevent you from fulfilling standard work responsibilities
  • The impairment should have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months or result in death

SSA will determine whether your disability leaves you unable to complete “substantial gainful work,” which, by their definition, amounts to work that earns you $1,220 monthly or more. In order to make a well-informed decision, the SSA takes into consideration your age, education, job-related training, and past work experience. If you meet all these qualifications, you have a strong chance of being able to receive disability benefits.

The unfortunate truth, though, is that at times, the system does make mistakes. People who fully qualify for disability benefits are often rejected for unexplained reasons, forcing them to hire legal help to find a solution. Be aware of the possibility of rejection when applying for disability and always have a plan in the event that things do not pan out.

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