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A glimpse into Social Security disability criteria

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be confusing. Those who are entitled to receive disability often wonder what information is needed and what to do if denied. Considering the fact that more than 50 percent of applicants are denied the first time, the latter is a question that comes up time and time again. 

Recently, an article was posted in the Chicago Tribune that focused on the basics of applying for Social Security disability. Since Social Security disability insurance is a federal program, this is information can be useful to anyone in the country, including those living in New Jersey. 

In the most basic of terms, there are four criteria a person must meet in order to be eligible for SSDI.

The medical impairment must be severe enough that it prohibits a person from substantial and gainful employment. The condition or impairment must also have last for a year or be expected to last for at least a year or until the person passes away. 

The impairment must also interfere with the job the person had at the onset. For example, if a New Jersey resident worked hard and long hours as a construction worker, with no problems, but has since been diagnosed with a lung disease and simply cannot work the job anymore; this may be a reason to file for SSDI.

Lastly, the impairment must be one that makes it impossible to adjust to another type of work. 

In terms of qualifying for SSDI, the person filing must also have a certain number of work credits. These credits are based on yearly wages or self-employed income. The younger a person is, typically, the less work credits earned. 

However, the issue with needing work credits is for SSDI. There is also the federal Supplemental Security Income program. With the SSI program, a person without any or enough work credits can apply to receive benefits for basic living expenses. 

Those applying should keep in mind more than half of those who apply are denied the first time. Luckily, there is an appeals process and many do go on to receive benefits after an appeal. When it comes to appeals, an advocate or an attorney with experience handling Social Security disability benefits can be of great service. 

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Applying for Social Security disability is a complicated process, but worth it," Elliot Raphaelson, Oct. 15, 2013. 

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