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How does Social Security determine if I'm disabled?

If you have been ill or injured and are unable to return to work, you may be feeling the pinch of the loss of your income. As days go by, you know the situation will only get worse until you are able to get back on your feet, if that ever happens. You may be considering pursuing alternative sources of income to get you through this difficult time.

Many in North Carolina and elsewhere who are in a similar situation seek relief through the Social Security Administration. Applying for disability benefits can be a challenging and frustrating process, but if the SSA approves you, you may have the financial support you need. However, before going through the process of applying for benefits, it is important to understand whether your situation matches the SSA's definition of a disability.

How do I qualify?

If you expect your symptoms to improve so you can return to work, Social Security Disability may not be for you. SSD is for long-term assistance for those whose physical or mental illness makes it impossible for them to hold any type of gainful employment. The SSA will evaluate your case to see if you can do any type of work, not just the work you did prior to your illness or accident. If you cannot earn the minimum amount designated by the SSA, agents will review the following factors:

  • Have doctors said your condition will last at least one year or will result in your demise?
  • Is your medical condition or a combination of its symptoms included in the list of conditions approved by the SSA?
  • Do you have the ability to do any kind of work, despite your condition?
  • Are you visually impaired?
  • Are you a veteran of the U.S. military or a wounded warrior?
  • Does your age, level of pain, medications, education or lack of work experience prevent you from seeking work in another industry?

The SSA does not approve most people who apply for disability. This is because many who seek these benefits do not meet the eligibility standards, and others are simply trying to defraud the government. As a result, qualifying is difficult, and rejection is common. To increase your chances of approval for disability benefits, you may wish to work with an attorney who has a history of success helping those seeking assistance from the SSA.

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