Social Security Process: Are You Eligible For Benefits?

Determining Social Security Eligibility

There are several factors in deciding whether you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will make five determinations, including:

  • Whether you are currently working
  • Whether your condition is considered “severe” within the meaning of the law
  • Whether your particular illness or condition is within the list of legally disabling conditions
  • Whether you are able to do the work you previously did
  • Whether you are able to do any other kind of work

An important thing to know about Social Security disability benefits is that your condition must fall within the legal definition of “disability.” You will meet this definition if you cannot do the work you did before, the SSA determines that you cannot do other work because of your particular condition, and the disability is expected to last (or has lasted) for at least one year (or is expected to end in death). The SSA will only pay benefits for total disability. Benefits are not available for short-term or partial disability.

Another factor the SSA will take into consideration is how long and how recently you have worked. In order to qualify for benefits, you must have worked recently enough and long enough to meet eligibility requirements. The work credits assigned to you by the SSA will be based on your yearly income from wages or self-employment. This amount will change each year.


How are Social Security Disability Claims Processed?

The SSA processes claims through local field offices or State agencies. Your application for Social Security disability benefits will be filed through your local field office either in person, by mail, by phone, or online. The application will include information related to your impairment, any treatment you may be receiving, and other information relevant to your disability. It is the field office’s responsibility to verify all non-medical eligibility information (including age, marital status, employment, and/or Social Security coverage). The application will then be sent to a Disability Determination Service (DDS) for evaluation and classification. The DDS will verify medical information and make a determination as to whether or not you meet the legal requirements for disabled status. The DDS will return your file to your local field office for further action. If you are found to be disabled by the DDS, the SSA will begin to pay benefits to you. If the DDS finds that you are not legally disabled, your local office will keep your file in the event you appeal the determination made by the DDS.

If you think that you or a loved one may be eligible for these benefits, or if you have been denied benefits, the advice of an experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you with the complicated application and appeal process. Consult with the attorneys at Napoli Shkolnik PLLC today and get more information on your rights and the benefits to which you may be entitled. It can be difficult to know where to begin and how to proceed in these situations. It is imperative to seek counsel today if you think you may be entitled to these benefits. Call (212) 397-1000 to schedule your free consultation today.