With Social Security Disability (SSD) claims on the rise, a crackdown on bogus claims is imminent. Absent a more stringent approach, the national welfare budget will become severely stretched and, as a result, genuine claims may suffer. To qualify for SSD benefits, it is therefore crucial to obtain legal assistance early in the process, and to be aware of the following:
Your condition must be a recognized disability
The Social Security Administration maintains a definitive list of recognized disabilities, which entitle individuals to SSD benefits. Known as the Blue Book, the Administration’s catalogue categorizes various medical conditions, each with a range of severity. Under certain conditions, an individual illness may not be sufficient to qualify one for benefits. However, a combination of listed impairments taken together may be sufficient. Also, medical impairments that prevent your return to past work or alternative work may entitle you to SSD benefits.
Your disability must be long term or terminal
The condition or conditions for which you are claiming benefits must be expected to last for at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. Short-term disabilities lasting less than 12 months are not covered. A mandatory waiting period of five months helps to ascertain whether a disability is long-term or not. Payments to eligible claimants usually commence in month six after a claim has been approved.
You must have paid your taxes
To be eligible for SSD benefits, claimants must have paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes. Workers accrue credit for the amount of time that they have worked. As a rule of thumb, one year of work equals four quarters of “credit.” Generally, you must have paid FICA taxes for five out of the last 10 years to qualify for benefits, but there are exceptions for certain disabilities such as blindness and for younger workers who have not had time to build up sufficient credits. FICA taxes are paid by all employees and employers, including the self-employed, in order to provide a budget for Social Security and Medicare payouts.
If you believe that you are eligible for SSD benefits, a law firm experienced in workers compensation and Social Security Disability can help you. Hoffman DiMuzio is a New Jersey law firm large enough to provide the services that you need from a big law firm with the caring approach of a small one. Call us for more information. Should you need our services, we are ready to assist you.
Publication approved by Christine DiMuzio Sorochen, Esq., Associate of Hoffman DiMuzio