Sustaining a life-altering injury is damaging in many ways; besides from taking away your former mobility and freedom, a disability comes with additional expenses and possibly results in an inability to work, which means you will face the added stress of no longer having an income.

Thankfully, all hope isn’t lost. The United States Social Security Administration offers disability payments to those who have been injured and are no longer able to earn an income or operate at their previous, uninjured level of mobility. In past years, people have abused the system and collected payments when they were not as disabled as they claimed, making it much harder for those who really are injured to get disability.

It’s best to do some research before bothering to file to spare yourself any hassle. Here are the Social Security disability requirements:

You Worked Before Your Injury

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must have previously worked a job that was covered by Social Security. If you aren’t sure about this, you can call your former employer and speak to the HR department.

You Don’t Work Now

Disability benefits are not instantaneous. That is, you cannot apply for them if you get hurt and can’t go to work for a few weeks. Instead, you must have proof that your disability will prevent you from working for at least 12 consecutive months.

Some people who work are still able to collect disability. However, there are restrictions. If you work and make more than $1,130 a month, you will not be considered disabled and therefore ineligible to receive disability payments.

If you have worked or are having trouble proving your disability to the SSA, you should consult a SSD attorney who can represent your case.

You Match Social Security’s Definition of “Disabled”

according to an SSD Attorney in Phoenix AZ, Social Security defines “disabled” as someone who is injured to an extent that they are no longer able to work entirely or at the level they once did.

There are certain medical conditions that will allow you to be considered automatically disabled. You can read the full lists for both adults and children here.

You Cannot Do the Work You Once Did

If you can’t do the work you did before your injury but are able to adapt to new work, then may not qualify for disability. Your age, medical condition, past work experience and transferable work skills will be taken into account by the Social Security Administration to determine whether or not you are eligible for disability.

So how do you qualify for Social Security disability payments?

In order to receive disability payments, you must:

  • Have sustained a serious injury.
  • Be out of commision and no longer able to perform your past work.
  • Be working and earn more than $1,130 per month.
  • Have transferable work skills that would allow you to earn an income even with your disability.

For further information, check out the official Social Security Administration’s website for FAQs, a full breakdown of disability criteria and additional resources.

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