Who Is Eligible For Social Security Disability?

Attorney Christopher Pashler discusses his work at the Social Security Administration:

Have you been denied disability? Frustrated with the system? I understand. When I worked for the Social Security Administration, I saw firsthand how the application and appeals process is often lengthy and wrought with bureaucratic requirements and red tape. We are committed to helping individuals understand more about how the Social Security Disability benefits program works.

Understanding Basic Eligibility Criteria

The most common questions my wife and I get when we talk with SSD applicants concern the basic eligibility criteria for disability. As your attorney, I will work with you to determine if you are eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. You may qualify if you are not working or earning less than $1,040 per month.

If you are not working, you can establish eligibility as a result of work history reflecting jobs covered by Social Security. When you are employed, you accrue Social Security credits congruent with your earnings or self-employment income. You earn up to four credits per year and, presently, one credit is earned per $1,160 received in wages or self-employment income. Once you have earned $4,640 in one year, you have earned your four credits for the year. From there, the SSA compares the number of credits you have earned against the age you were at the time you became disabled.

As a former staff attorney for the Social Security Administration, I used to review applicants’ work history records to determine whether they were ineligible for benefits. As your Amherst SSD attorney, during our initial consultation, I will help you calculate whether you have sufficient credits to qualify for disability insurance benefits.

Understanding Need-Based Eligibility

I have met many hard-working disabled individuals in Amherst who do not have the work history necessary for eligibility for Disability Insurance Benefits. Even if we determine that you are not eligible for Disability Insurance Benefits, you may be eligible for Supplemental Disability Insurance where income is a major factor. In other words, a claimant’s income must be below a certain level in order to establish eligibility.

Prior to establishing my disability law firm in Amherst, I became very familiar with how federal regulations define income as a staff attorney for the Social Security Administration. As your disability lawyer, I will use this experience to make sure the Social Security Administration properly calculates your income and resources for the purposes of establishing your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income.

Understanding The Disability Standard

Not every disabling condition renders an applicant eligible for disability. First, your condition must be one likely to result in your death (i.e., terminal) or likely to last longer than 12 months. Second, your condition must be so severe that it interferes with your ability to do the tasks required by your job. Third, the SSA will also review your education, age and background to determine if you are able to perform other types of work.

Seems pretty straightforward? Unfortunately, the disability application process is more complex than my description. Kathleen and I regularly talk to western New Yorkers who are thinking about applying for Social Security Disability benefits and many are discouraged by the horror stories they hear about applying for benefits.

Every year, over 2 million people file for Social Security benefits because they are disabled and are unable to work. Countless more don’t even bother to apply because they do not understand the basic eligibility criteria. As a former attorney for the Social Security Administration, I think it is important for you to understand a basic fact: you’ve worked hard all your life and paid your taxes. You’ve paid into the system. Applying for disability benefits is a benefit for which you have already made payments.

I tell disability applicants that the disability application process can cause you to lose hope. Of the 2 million claims each year, 65 percent of all initial claims are rejected nationwide. But only about 600,000 of those are appealed annually. That means that about a million people a year are so confused by the process or discouraged by their first denial that they give up! You need an attorney with an inside view of disability claims adjudication to help you through this stressful and dehumanizing process.

Kathleen and I have over two decades of experience in fighting for the disadvantaged, and we will use our knowledge of disability law to provide you with quality representation.

Call 716-246-1474 or complete our contact form today to see how we can help.