The Social Security Administration governs two benefit programs: Retirement benefits
for workers who have reached the prescribed retirement age; and disability benefits for people who are unable to work due to illness or injury but have not yet attained the prescribed retirement age.
There are two disability benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance
, also known as SSDI; and Supplemental Security Income, also known as SSI. SSDI pays benefits to you and certain family members if you are disabled, worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. It includes Medicare insurance. SSI pays benefits to disabled adults and children who have limited income and assets. It includes Medicaid insurance, but it does not pay benefits to family members.
Because SSDI is funded by the Social Security tax find, even individuals who qualify as disabled must also have sufficient Social Security work credits to qualify.
In the case of need-based SSI, there are no work requirements because the program is financed through general tax revenues and not by the Social Security tax.
The Social Security Administration determines disability using a five-step evaluation:
If you are working and your earnings average more than a certain amount each month, you are not disabled. If you are not working, or your average monthly earnings do not exceed that amount, then your medical condition is reviewed.
Is Your Medical Condition 'Severe'? Does it Meet a Listing of Impairments?
Your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities for at least one year. If your medical condition is not severe enough, you are not disabled. Is your medical condition on the list of impairments? The list of impairments describes medical conditions that are so severe they are automatically disabling as defined by law. If your medical condition is not on the list, it is reviewed to determine if it is as severe as one that is on the list If the severity of your condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, you are disabled. If not, you can still be found disabled if you can't do any work.
Can You Do the Work You Did Before?
Your medical condition must prevent you from being able to do the work you did before. If not, you are not disabled.
Can You Do Any Other Type of Work?
Your medical condition must prevent you from doing other work If you can do other full-time work, you are not disabled. If you cannot do other work, you are disabled. Having a qualified lawyer who specializes in Social Security Disability law to help you to determine if you meet the disability requirements is critical before you contact the Social Security Administration.
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