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A closer look at how the SSA determines disability

Thanks to the efforts of the medical community, the government, advocacy groups and even the corporate sector, more people than ever are now cognizant of the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Indeed, more people are now ceasing their use of cigarettes and other products detrimental to their health, exercising on a more regular basis, and watching what they eat and drink.   

While this is an amazing and laudable development, the unfortunate reality is that sometimes people can still develop serious health problems despite their best efforts or see their health compromised by a serious accident. If you have a hard time believing it, consider that statistics show a 20-year-old worker has a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled prior to reaching their full retirement age.

As disconcerting as this information can be, particularly as it relates to finances, it's important for those who find themselves unable to work as a result of a disabling disease or serious injuries to know that they are not without options. In fact, they may be eligible for disability benefits via the Social Security disability insurance program.

The first question a person undoubtedly has concerning these SSDI benefits is whether they would be considered disabled by the Social Security Administration and, by extension, eligible for SSDI benefits.

In general, the SSA's definition of disability hinges on a person's inability to work. As such, a person will be considered disabled if they meet the following conditions:

  • They are unable to perform the work required in their previous position
  • They cannot perform other work as a result of their medical condition, and
  • Their medical condition that has lasted or is anticipated to last for at least one year or in their death

It's important to understand SSDI benefits only cover injuries or illnesses that are totally disabling. In other words, no benefits are available for partial or short-term disability.

We'll continue this discussion in future posts, including the earnings tests that must be satisfied in order to secure disability benefits and the five-step process relied upon by the SSA to determine if someone is disabled.

In the meantime, if you have questions about disability benefits or your initial claim has been denied, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional.

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Mr. McKellar was voted by his peers as a “Top Attorney” by Knoxville’s CityView magazine in its 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 editions. In 2014, 2015, and 2016, Mr. McKellar was selected as a member of the “Top 100 Trial Lawyers” by the National Trial Lawyers.

Ms. Easter was voted by her peers as a “Top Attorney” in Cityview Magazine for Family Law / Divorce / Child Support in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

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