The current economic climate in the US has resulted in a dramatic change in the employment landscape. As a result, the number of people considering filing for Social Security Disability has steadily increased over the last several years. Your clients may be asking “Does my current medical condition meet the criteria for disability?” or “Would Social Security Disability be something I should pursue?” There are several issues you should be aware of when trying to determine if now is the right time to file for Social Security Disability.
In order to be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits, an individual must have enough ‘quarters of coverage’ that have been paid into Social Security over time. More specifically, the general rule of thumb for most adults is that an individual must have worked enough in 5 of the last 10 years prior to the onset of disability to be ‘insured’ or eligible to file for disability benefits. This eligibility is based on the individual’s own personal earnings record in most cases. Of course, there are always exceptions. Once it has been determined that an individual has enough earnings reported to be insured for benefits, Social Security then begins a sequential-step process when analyzing a new application for disability benefits. This process includes the following questions:
- DOES THE INDIVIDUAL HAVE A MEDICALLY DETERMINABLE IMPAIRMENT THAT IS EXPECTED TO END IN DEATH OR THAT IS EXPECTED TO KEEP HIM/HER FROM WORKING FOR AT LEAST 12 MONTHS
- IS THIS MEDICALLY DETERMINABLE IMPAIRMENT SEVERE AS DEFINED BY SOCIAL SECURITY?
- IF AN INDIVIDUAL HAS A SEVERE IMPAIRMENT ACCORDING TO SOCIAL SECURITY’S DEFINITION, DOES THAT IMPAIRMENT MEET ONE OF THE LISTED IMPAIRMENTS AS OUTLINED IN THE SOCIAL SECURITY REGULATIONS?
- CAN THE INDIVIDUAL PERFORM ANY OF HIS/HER PAST RELEVANT WORK?
- CAN THE INDIVIDUAL PERFORM ANY OTHER WORK THAT EXISTS IN THE ECONOMY TODAY?
These questions encompass a host of issues such as physical vs psychological impairments, continuing to earn wages vs working as a self-employed individual while pursuing benefits, documentation by a physician of a medical diagnosis, work skills that may transfer to other occupations, and the ability to sustain work activity as defined by Social Security. For example, you may be a small business owner who suffered injuries in an accident which now prevent you from perform the work activities necessary to maintain your business; therefore, you have had to hire outside help. How is your eligibility for benefits impacted by this need to hire from the outside? Or, you may have been a corporate executive for many years before being diagnosed with a debilitating disease such as multiple sclerosis which has resulted in significant cognitive as well as physical impairments. How does Social Security evaluate your ability to return to substantial gainful employment?
There are many issues to consider when contemplating an application for Social Security Disability. For a free consultation, submit a request on our Contact Us page or call us directly at 813-495-8787. We’re here to help!