Answers to Social Security Disability Benefits Questions

On the Home page, we answered some frequently asked questions regarding Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits. Below are the continuation of the answers to those SSDI questions.

Applying for SSD Benefits


It it important to have your W-2 form from the last year as well as an original or certified copy of your birth certificate. 

For the Adult Disbility Report, you will need name, address and contact information for those who know about your condition, information about your illnesses and conditions; names and addresses of your medical providers; names of the medicine you are taking; and names and dates of medical tests you have had.

A list of up to five jobs and dates you worked during the last 15 years will also be required.



5 Step Process for SSD Benefits

If you have average earnings of more than $1,010 a month, you failed the first step and are not entitled to SSD benefits. Next, your condition must be severe enough to interfere with basic work-related activities in order to be eligble for Social Security Disability benefits. If it does not, we will find that you are not disabled.

Next, it will be determined if your condition meets a listing. For each of the major body systems, SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that are so severe they automatically mean that a person is disabled. If your condition is not on the list, you must go through the next step to determine if it interferes with your ability to do your past relevelent work. During this step, SSA looks at the type of work you did in the 15 years prior to your hearing. If it is determined that you cannot do the work you did in the past, you must provide that you cannot adjust to other work based on your age, education, past work experience and any transferable skills you may have.

If you cannot adjust to other work, your claim will be approved. If you can adjust to other work, your claim will be denied.


Qualifications for SSD Benefits


The number of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. In general, you need 40 credits to be entitled to SSD benefits. Twenty of those credits must be earned in the last 10 years. The amount need for a credit changes from year to year. In 2012, you earn one credit for each $1,130 of wages. Thus, when you have earned $4,520 in one year, you have earned your 4 quarters for that year.

In addition to the required quarters, you need to have a disability. Social Security will consider you disabled if you cannot do work that you did before and you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s). Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

Working and Getting SSD Benefits

After you start receiving Social Security disability benefits, you are not forever barred from working and earning additional money. The Social Security Administration allows a recipient of SSDI benefits to earn $1,010 a month without impact on your Social Security Disability benefits. 

In addition, Social Security permits a trial work period to test your ability to return to the work force. During a trial work period, A SSD recipient will receive their full Social Security benefits regardless of how much you are earning as long as you report your work activity and you continue to have a disabling impairment. Thus, you can earn more than $1,010 a month during the trial work period without impact on your Social Security Disability benefits. In 2012, a trial work month is any month in which your total earnings are over $720. The trial work period continues until you have worked nine months within a 60-month period.  

It is important that you let the Social Security Administration know if you are working or become self-employed. Failure to do so could result in the suspension of your SSD benefits. You can report changes in your work activity by phone, mail or in person.

© 2012 by Social Security Attorney Matthew Noyes


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