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How long do you have to be unable to work to get a favorable disability decision?

Posted on Thursday, November 11th, 2021 at 4:02 pm    

Are you thinking about filing disability, but you don’t know whether you would be considered disabled under the Social Security Administration? Here are some guidelines to clarify what Social Security means by disability.

Under the Social Security rules, someone is considered disabled if the all the following are true:

  • You cannot perform the same work that you did before because of your medical condition.
  • You cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition.
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.

Here are important things to clarify about those requirements.
How can work affect your disability case? If you are working, Social Security will likely determine that you are not disabled. But there is one exception to this rule: If you are working in 2021 and your average earnings is no more than $1,310 per month and you are not working full time, you can still be considered disabled. (Note that there are special rules for self-employed and blind persons).

What is required for your condition to be severe? For a medical condition to be considered severe, it must significantly limit your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as lifting, standing, walking, sitting, or remembering – for at least 12 months. For injuries that have caused obvious permanent disability, Social Security will decide on your case right away. But if the progression of your condition is not clear, Social Security might wait a few months to see if your condition improves. Normally, if your condition does not improve within three months, Social Security will understand that the condition is severe and will last for at least one year.

When can you apply? There is no requirement that you must be off work for a year to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. You can apply as soon as you stop being able to do a substantial amount of work. If Social Security does not believe your disability will last a full twelve months, it will send you a durational denial letter.

The process to apply for Social Security Disability might be complicated and confusing for someone that is not used to the process and steps that need to be taken. If you are interested in applying and still have questions about the process, call us! We will be more than happy to help you through the process.

Last Updated : November 11, 2021
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