October 11, 2013   Disability & Illness

Navigating Your Way: Social Security Disability Benefits

Most people do not realize how common disability is, or how likely it is that they will become disabled at some point during their working career. In fact, studies show that one in three 20-year-old workers will become disabled at some point before they reach their full retirement age. For those workers who do become disabled, Social Security disability benefits may be available. Unfortunately, however, many people do not understand how the get the benefits they deserve.

Social Security disability benefits are reserved for more serious disabilities. For example, if you catch a virus and are out of work for a week, you are not eligible for benefits. However, for those who suffer a medical condition that is expected to keep them out of work for one year or result in death, Social Security disability benefits are available.

Not only must you have a qualifying disability, but you must also meet rigid earnings requirements. These requirements employ two tests, the “recent work” test and the “duration of work” test, to determine whether your employment history entitles you to benefits. If the tests reveal that you have not worked close enough to your disability date, or long enough before you became disabled, you will not qualify. For example, if you become disabled at age 44, you will not receive disability benefits unless you have worked for 5.5 years.

If you qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must apply to receive them. You can apply either online at www.socialsecurity.gov, or by phone at 1-800-772-1213. You will need to schedule an appointment for a disability claims interview, which can happen over the phone or in person at your local Social Security office. The interview will last approximately one hour.

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