Social Security disability payments are made to people who have severe medical conditions and are unable to work for at least a year, or that may result in death.  Individuals are eligible for Social Security benefits once they have worked long enough in jobs that are covered by Social Security. Usually, it is 10 years.

If you have access to workers’ compensation, insurance, savings, or investments, you may not qualify for disability benefits, in which case your application will be denied. When you turn 65, disability benefits convert to retirement benefits.

What Are Credits?

To apply for Social Security benefits, your total yearly earnings are used to calculate you Social Security credits. You earn a maximum of four work credits a year. The amount needed to earn a point will increase automatically when average wages increase.

  • This means the amount needed for one credit in 2015 will be $1,220.

To be eligible for Social Security benefits, you will need a certain number of credits. The number of credits needed for an application is determined by your age and the type of benefit you are applying for.

What Do I Need to File an Application?

When applying for disability benefits, your application should include:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your birth certificate
  • Doctors’ information, caseworkers’ names, and dates of hospital visits
  • The type of medication you are taking and the dosage
  • Medical records
  • Laboratory or test results
  • A summary of the kind of work you do
  • A copy of your latest W-2 Form

Once it is determined that you have enough work credits, your case is reviewed. Officials will examine your medical reports and may request an additional examination. If it is determined that you cannot work because of your condition you will be approved for benefits.

How Does the Social Security Administration Determine If I Am Disabled?

The Social Security Administration pays benefits for total disability, not for partial or short-term disabilities. The Social Security Administration uses a strict definition and considers the following to mean “disabled”:

  • You are unable to do the work you did before
  • The administration has determined that you cannot adjust to another line of work due to your medical condition

Your disability is expected to last for at least a year or result in death.

Can Other Family Members Qualify for Benefits on My Record?

Other family members may be entitled to benefits and are eligible in the following situations:

  • Your unmarried, children that are younger than 18 years of age
  • Your spouse, if he or she is 62 years of age or older
  • Your spouse, if he or she is caring for a child that is either younger than 16 years of age or disabled

How Long Will My Benefits Continue?

Your case will be periodically reviewed to see if you are still disabled. Typically, your benefits will stop when the Social Security Administration decides you are no longer disabled. As long as you are disabled your benefits will continue unless your income increases to over $800 per month.

Should I Get an Attorney?

Yes. Applying for and receiving Social Security disability benefits can be a long process, and a qualified government lawyer can help you submit your claim. If you are having a problem obtaining your benefits, a lawyer can help prepare and file an appeal. An attorney can also determine if a family member is eligible for benefits because of your disability.