Who Can Get Social Security Disability Benefits

There are a number of ways to continue receiving a check if you become disabled and can no longer work.

If you are a veteran, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Veterans Benefits Administration. Some employees, like those employed by the City of Tucson may qualify for a disability benefit through their employers. Others pay into a short-term or long-term disability insurance plan that pays out when they are unable to work.

If you are not in any of those categories, you still have options.

Specifically, the Social Security Administration has two programs that give disability benefit payments to individuals who are disabled, SSDI and SSI. Both programs use the same core definition and criteria to evaluate your case and determine whether you qualify. To be disabled for the purposes of the Social Security Administration, you must prove the following:

  1. You are not working at the level of “substantial gainful employment.” If your average monthly earnings from work activity are more than $1170 per month, or $1950 per month for blind individuals, you do not qualify.
  2. You have a severe medically determinable impairment that interferes with basic work-related activities and is expected to last at least twelve months.
  3. Your medical impairment meets or equals one of the listings of impairments used by Social Security to evaluate disability

If Social Security determines that you do not meet or equal a listing of impairments, they proceed to a vocational analysis. First, they will determine what your “residual functional capacity” (or the abilities you still have, despite being disabled) is. Once they determine your residual functional capacity, they compare that to your prior relevant work (work that you did in the 15 years before becoming disabled) and determine if they think you can do that prior work. If they think you can do your prior relevant work, despite the limitations from your disability, Social Security will deny your claim. If they decide that you cannot do your prior relevant work, they continue on to the final step of their analysis to determine whether you have the residual functional capacity to perform any other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.  That typically means “any job that’s available.”

Social Security’s process is complex and can be difficult to understand.

If you would like more information, or advice about whether you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits you can call Menard Law, PLLC at (520) 276-1576, or send us an email.  We’d be happy to discuss your particular circumstances to help you determine whether this may be a good option for you and your family.

Angela Menard is a Tucson attorney practicing in the areas of Social Security Disability, Veteran Benefits, Personal Injury, and Criminal Defense.  She is a Tucson native and U.S. Army Veteran.