Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federally run program that was created to provide both temporary and permanent supplemental income to those with physical and mental disabilities. Even though the SSDI program is administered by the federal government, it is largely up to each state to determine how much an applicant is entitled to receive and for how long. For example, in North Carolina, beneficiaries are not eligible for temporary relief. Filing for disability benefits can be a complex process, so if you or a loved one suffer from a disability that makes it impossible to retain employment, it is vital to speak with an experienced Charlotte social security attorney who can help explain your legal options.
Federal guidelines dictate the eligibility standards under which applicants can qualify for social security benefits. To be eligible for benefits, a person must have a medical condition that is expected to last for at least a year or to result in death.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) then analyzes five main components of each petitioner’s application, including:
- His or her work history;
- The severity of the medical condition;
- Whether the condition is present on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions
- Whether the applicant is able to perform the same type of work that he or she previously did; and
- The applicant’s ability to perform other types of work.
To demonstrate work history, applicants must satisfy two earnings requirements tests, known as the recent work test and the work duration test. To satisfy the recent work test, an applicant must be able to provide evidence that he or she was employed for a specific amount of time in the years preceding the disability. According to the terms of this test, if an applicant’s disability began:
- Before the age of 24 years old, he or she must have worked for at least one and a half years during the previous three years;
- After turning 24 years old, but before the age of 31 years old, he or she must have worked for at least half of the time from age 21 years old up to the date of disability; or
- After turning 31 years old, he or she must have been employed for at least five years out of the previous ten years.
Under the work duration test, an applicant must demonstrate that he or she worked a certain number of years before the injury was sustained. For example, if an applicant was injured before the age of 28 years old, he or she must have worked for at least one and a half years before that. However, unlike the recent work test, the work duration test does not require employment to fall within a specific time period, as long as it occurred prior to the disability.
Along with this information, each applicant must also submit identifying information with his or her application, including:
- His or her social security number;
- His or her birth certificate;
- The names, addresses, and phone numbers of all treating doctors, hospitals, therapists, or other medical professionals;
- The dates of all hospital and doctor’s office visits;
- The names and dosages of all prescribed medication;
- Medical records from all of his or her treating doctors, therapists, caseworkers, and hospitals;
- Copies of laboratory and test results;
- A summary of his or her employment situation; and
- A copy of his or her most recent W-2 Form.
This information can be provided by phone, in-person, or through an online application. Once the information has been reviewed, the North Carolina Disability Determination Services office will analyze a series of factors, including:
- The applicant’s medical condition;
- When the condition was diagnosed;
- How the condition limits the applicant’s activities;
- The applicant’s medical test results; and
- What treatments the applicant has received.
Based on this information, the agency will determine whether the ailment is on one of two lists of qualifying disabling conditions, one of which is only for minors under the age of 18 years old. The lists include:
- Problems with the respiratory, cardiovascular, and digestive systems;
- Neurological disorders, such as epilepsy, Huntington’s Disease, and Alzheimer’s;
- Mental disorders, including paranoia and psychosis, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse addiction;
- Autoimmune disorders;
- Various cancers;
- Musculoskeletal disabilities, such as infectious, inflammatory, or degenerative diseases;
- Thyroid and pituitary gland disorders; and
- Genitourinary disorders, including chronic kidney disease.
If an applicant’s illness is not on the list, the SSA assesses whether his or her disability is of equal severity to those listed. The SSA will also attempt to discover each applicant’s ability to participate in work-related activities, such as:
- Walking, lifting, sitting, reaching, and carrying;
- Remembering and being able to carry out instructions;
- The ability to see, hear, and speak;
- The ability to use sound judgment; and
- The ability to adjust to changes in routine.
If a disability does not impede these basic activities, it will most likely not reach the threshold of disability under federal standards. However, if an illness makes these activities impossible for an applicant, the SSA will determine whether the applicant could do another type of work by considering his or her medical condition, education, age, experience, and skill set. If the SSA finds that an applicant cannot adjust to performing other work, the claim will most likely be approved.
If an application is approved, the SSA will give the petitioner a monthly living stipend until he or she is able to retain steady employment. Furthermore, the applicant will automatically qualify for Medicaid.
Contact an Experienced Charlotte SSDI Lawyer Today
Being diagnosed with a serious medical condition can be stressful, especially if it is so severe that a person is unable to retain steady employment, so if you were recently diagnosed with a medical condition and have questions or concerns about obtaining SSDI relief, please contact the law firm of Ted A. Greve & Associates, P.A. by completing and submitting one of our contact forms and we will help you schedule a free consultation with an experienced Charlotte, NC SSDI attorney.