Do I Qualify for Benefits?

The Five Step Disability Determination Process

Social Security asks five questions to determine whether you are disabled:

  1. Do you have sufficient quarters of earnings to qualify for SSD or are you SSI eligible only? (When is that date you last qualified for SSD?)
  2. What are your “chronic” and “severe” impairments?  (These are the physical and mental conditions diagnosed by a doctor that have lasted twelve months or more and pose more than minimal limitations on your ability to function in the workplace.)
  3. Do you satisfy the criteria for disability in the back of the Social Security Act?  (Do you meet or equal one or more of the “listings“?)
  4. Can you perform your past relevant work?  (This is the work you performed for longer than three months within the last fifteen years.)
  5. Is there any other work in the national economy that you can perform?

If you can prove your medical conditions keep you from performing any full-time work then you are disabled.

Other Important Factors:

  • Your age: It gets easier to get your disability benefits when you turn fifty years old, fifty-five, and sixty years old.
  • Your background: The less education and skills you have the less “other” work there is available to you.
  • Your spouse: If you were married ten years or more, you may be able to rely on your spouse’s work history to qualify for SSD.
  • Your ability to speak English: Inability to communicate in English will further restrict your employment options.

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