The social security system allows some people with disabilities to receive financial assistance, apart from any private disability payments rendered by their employer. Such government assistance is usually referred to as “Social Security Disability Insurance."

Only persons with certain disabilities are eligible to receive social security disability assistance. Eligibility depends mainly on the severity of the disability or illness in relation to the person’s line of work. An eligible person can begin collecting social security disability payments even if they have not yet reached the age of retirement.

How Is “Disability” Defined under Social Security Programs?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a complex body of requirements that define “disability” and disability eligibility requirements. One of the main factors is whether the person’s disability prevents them from both obtaining a job and maintaining that job for a set period of time.

The eligibility requirements for social security disability insurance are very complicated; however, the SSA usually follows a three-step determination process:

  1. Some very severe disabilities automatically qualify the person for social security assistance. The SSA maintains a list of such conditions that result in automatic coverage, which include heart disease, severe arthritis, kidney failure, brain damage, and mental illness
  2. For disabilities that are not so severe, the SSA will determine whether the disability prevents the person from performing their current or former work
  3. For less obvious cases, the SSA will determine whether the condition prevents the person from finding other work available under economic conditions

In some cases you may need to consult with a lawyer if you need assistance with the eligibility requirements for social security disability, and to make sure you file the proper paperwork so that your application is not denied.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance with Social Security and Disability?

The assistance of a qualified government lawyer may often be necessary when filing for social security disability insurance. For instance, you may need the help of an attorney if you have been denied social security disability insurance and wish to appeal your application.  Or if your current disability payments have stopped without a clear reason, you may need to contact a lawyer for advice or representation during legal proceedings.