Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance

Contrary to what people believe, you need not be permanently disabled to qualify for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Disability under the SSDI is defined as a medical condition that prevents the applicant from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA).  However, you do need to be totally disabled.

For example, if you are a construction worker and you hurt your back, you may be unable to work for a considerable period of time. However, the condition does not need to be permanent to qualify. For SSDI, the applicable condition is that the disability is expected to last for a minimum of 12 months, such as when recovering from major surgery or a broken limb, and that the disability is total.

This is an important distinction, because unlike workers’ compensation insurance which covers temporary, permanent, partial, total, short-term, and long-term disability claims, SSDI only applies to workers who are 100% unable to do SGA. There are certain conditions that will come into play to define “substantial” as a claimant can continue to work while receiving SSDI benefits.

There are instances when an SSDI claim takes so long to process that the claimant makes a full recovery and went back to work before it is approved. However, if the claim is eventually approved, the claimant can still get the benefits that would have been given for the period in which the claimant had been unable to work. This is called the “closed period.”

According to the website of South Carolina personal injury lawyers, the length of time that one can received SSDI benefits depends on the reason for the disability and if there is an expectation of full recovery or at least to return to SGA. Some medical conditions are provided with a finite length of time to get benefits i.e. organ transplant warrants one year. However, when the disability is permanent, beneficiaries may be approved to receive SSDI benefits until they qualify for retirement benefits.

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