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Becoming unable to work, whether due to a catastrophic injury or a chronic illness, places a great strain on your life. You may be responsible for not only yourself but also for the well-being of your family. Fortunately, the federal government’s Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program exists to reward a lifetime of hard work with a much-needed leg up.

People may assume that they simply need to submit an application and the benefits will be granted. The truth is that most applications are denied at the onset and obtaining these benefits can be a lengthy process. A Burlington SSDI lawyer is here to assist applicants through this complicated system. Speak with a distinguished personal injury lawyer that can give you a better chance at a positive outcome.

SSDI Past Work Requirements

The SSDI program requires that applicants have a substantial work history. This is in contrast to the Social Security Income (SSI) program that carries no work requirement. Workers earn credits that are issued for every quarter year that the applicant is employed. These credits require that the worker actually work for a certain number of hours over that time and for a certain income level.

The exact income level needed to qualify for a credit changes over time, but in 2017 it was set at $1,300.  In order to qualify for the program, a worker needs to accumulate 40 credits, 20 of those being earned in the past 10 years. For applicants with less than 10 years of work due to their youth, the math does change. The most important part of calculating work credits is recent work history.

For example, if an applicant has worked full-time for the past 12 years, they will certainly have acquired sufficient credits. However, if they only worked part-time for 18 credits over the past 10 years, they can no longer claim SSDI, even if they worked full-time for the prior 30 years. More information about these requirements can be found here, and can be explained thoroughly by a Burlington SSDI lawyer.

Available SSDI Benefits

The amount of benefits issued on a monthly basis varies depending upon a person’s earning history. The calculation is mainly determined by the level of income prior to disability. A worker who earned $50,000 per year may expect to receive greater benefits than a worker who earned $40,000 per year. People may also think that they cannot claim disability benefits if their spouse is still working. While this is true under the SSI program, people eligible for SSDI benefits cannot be disqualified due to family income provided by other family members.

Medical Requirements for SSDI

The main phrase that we need to remember when considering medical evidence is the ability of a person to perform substantial gainful activity. This means working any job on a full-time basis. There is also a severity element as to whether or not a medical condition is disabling. The injury or illness must be expected to result in death. Alternatively, it must last or be expected to last, for a continuous 12 months.

There is a list provided in the law that contains many of these conditions that are assumed to be disabling. However, most people applying for this program have conditions that place them into the gray area of the law. They need consistent medical treatment, that shows minimal improvement despite following doctors’ orders. Only then may a condition be considered truly disabling.

People may also assume that they need a debilitating physical condition to be ruled disabled. This could not be farther from the truth. Many people’s claims are successful based on purely mental conditions such as severe depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. In these cases, an applicant will need to demonstrate that the effects of the mental condition are severe enough that they cannot perform any job on a full-time basis.

How a Burlington SSDI Attorney Can Help

Applying for SSDI benefits is a complicated process. The applications are confusing and require constant contact with both the Social Security Administration (SSA) and treating doctors. Once the initial application is received, the SSA will send applicants additional paperwork that must be completed correctly and on time. On top of all this, most applications are denied when they are first received.

A Burlington SSDI lawyer can help applicants keep paperwork organized, and can ensure that the process runs smoothly. The attorney handles all of the submission of paperwork, as well as the gathering of medical evidence from doctors, and ultimately arguing the case before a judge. Whether a claim has recently been denied, or a worker is thinking of applying for the first time, they should contact an experienced social security lawyer today.