Defining Disability for SSDI and SSI Benefits

The question as to whether someone has a disability is essential to knowing whether or not they can obtain disability benefits. However, many people do not know what a disability is, in the context of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). So what does it mean to have a disability, for the purposes of SSDI and SSI benefits?

Defining Disability for SSDI and SSI

    Legally speaking, someone is considered disabled for the purposes of SSDI and SSI benefits when they have a severe physical or psychological condition that substantially impairs their ability to work or perform daily tasks. This disability must have prevented someone from working for a period of twelve months or more, and they must make below a certain amount of income per year (depending on whether they are applying for SSDI or SSI). This is because Social Security disability benefits are intended principally for those that are unable to support themselves by working.

What Qualifies as a Disability

Theoretically any medical condition can qualify as disability, provided that it causes enough impairment that someone can no longer work. This includes both physical and psychological conditions, and any conditions that are temporary but which last for one year or longer. Critically, someone who wants to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits must show they have attempted to have their condition treated by a doctor, and that they have followed their doctor’s prescribed treatment, or else they may be denied benefits.

Getting a DDS Interview

Unfortunately, the decision about whether or not you are actually disabled is not left to your doctor. Instead, you must be separately interviewed by a medical examiner working for Disability Determination Services (DDS). If you successfully apply for SSDI or SSI benefits and make it past the initial interview, you will need to go in for an appointment with a DDS examiner to ascertain your condition. Only if they give their approval can you then obtain disability benefits.

What This Means For You

If you are someone who is struggling with a disability and want to know if you may be eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits, you should speak to a lawyer with experience handling Social Security disability claims. They can help you with filling out your application, and help you to explore potential legal options if your application is denied. The sooner you call, the sooner they can get to work helping you.

If you or a loved one need assistance applying for SSDI or SSI benefits, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced Social Security Disability benefits lawyer. The lawyers at Sullivan & Kehoe, LLP have over 50 years of combined experience between its attorneys and are available to you or your loved one in obtaining Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits. To schedule a consultation with our New York Social Security Disability benefits lawyers, call (631) 823-7155.

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