What to Do If You Physically Cannot Work

Submitted by pec on

If you have become physically or mentally disabled due to an injury or illness and cannot work anymore, even if you think you might get better in the future, you may be able to obtain disability benefit payments. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides benefits payments to disabled people who cannot work for at least 12 months, but the application process is quite lengthy and often frustrating. To help you with the application process for social security disability benefits read on below for useful information about the process.

Determine Why You Cannot Work

For the SSA to approve benefits payments, your medical condition must match one or more of the criteria established by the SSA. It must be a known medical condition which is severe enough to prevent you from working for at least the next 12 months or is possibly going to result in your death. Before you apply for disability benefits you should have had a clear diagnosis from a medical professional that establishes the nature of your disability and why it stops you from working.

In many cases, disability benefits applicants have already established a history of diagnosis and treatment for a developing medical condition, so you may have a number of documents that show how the condition developed and deteriorated. The SSA will not approve your application unless you have evidence of your disability in the form of medical documents. It is also important to continue with whatever medical treatment you have been having so far.

Determine How Long You Will Be Out of Work

Because the SSA will only approve disability benefits payments for applicants who are expected to be unable to work for at least the next 12 months, you will also need proof that your medical condition is severe enough to show that you would not be able to keep working. In some instances, the SSA may ask you to complete a residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment by your own doctor or by the SSA’s own Disability Determination Services (DDS) examiners. An RFC is a series of tests of your physical capacity, and establishes what you can and cannot do such as manually lifting weights, standing, bending, walking, etc.

If your medical condition is potentially receptive to treatment and you think you may be able to return to work within the next 12 months period, you may still be able to get financial help to help pay bills while you are off work. If your injury or illness happened while at work or was due to your workplace conditions, you should be able to apply for workers’ compensation. You may also be able to obtain short term disability benefits payments if you had disability insurance with your employer. Short term disability benefits typically pay between 40 to 70% of your average weekly earnings for several months while you are off work.

Establish If You Qualify For Disability

Once you know you will be unable to work for at least the next 12 months or have a medical condition which is likely to be fatal, you need to consider other criteria for disability benefits. This includes the nature of the medical condition itself and your work history. The SSA has a manual called the “Blue Book” which categorizes all the conditions that are considered disabilities from the SSA’s point of view. You can check how your symptoms match the description in the relevant section of the Blue Book to see whether your own medical condition is covered and whether your symptoms are severe enough for your application to be accepted.

Calculate Work Credits

Apart from the severity and nature of your disabling medical condition, the SSA will need to have evidence of your work history and accumulated work credits before they will approve an application for SSDI disability benefits. Work credits are accumulated for each year of employment in which you have paid social security insurance contributions as part of your payroll taxes. Evidence can be submitted in the form of payroll stubs and tax returns.

Speak With a Disability Lawyer

Applying for disability benefits can be a challenging task and in many cases, applications are initially rejected by the SSA. This is usually because of the lack of documentation supporting the application. Your chances of obtaining benefits could be improved by hiring a disability lawyer to help you, especially if you have to appeal a negative application decision.

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