An attorney Social Security can help disabled Americans seek benefits

Disability affects millions of people in the U.S., including many Chicago residents, as any attorney Social Security knows. A recent report indicates 37 million Americans suffer from some type of disability. Many of these individuals cannot work and may struggle financially. However, some of these individuals may find relief by seeking Social Security Disability benefits.

Living with disabilities

The 2012 Disability Status Report, which was released in 2014, is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. The report identifies people as disabled if they suffer from ambulatory, cognitive, auditory or visual impairments. The report also considers people disabled if their conditions impede self-care or independent living.

The report states that 12.1 percent of all Americans suffer from a disability. Ambulatory and self-care disabilities are the most common. The report also indicates the prevalence of disability increases with age. One-quarter of people between ages 65 and 74 suffer from a disability, as do half of people over the age of 75.

The report shows that disability often impacts a person’s income and employment. Just 33.5 percent of disabled individuals between ages 21 and 64 are employed, and just 20.9 percent work full-time. The poverty rate among disabled individuals in this age group is 28.4 percent. Many of these individuals may benefit from financial support, such as SSD benefits.

Claiming SSD benefits

The Social Security Administration employs strict standards to determine whether an individual qualifies for benefits for disability. The individual must demonstrate all of the following:

  • An adequate earnings record — people who have not paid enough in Social Security taxes in recent years or over their lifetimes cannot collect benefits.
  • Inability to work at a gainful level — if an individual earns over $1,070 a month, the SSA considers the work “substantial gainful activity,” and the individual cannot receive benefits. Work with lower income can also be considered SGA, depending on the job duties.
  • A disabling condition — the condition must be expected to last over 12 months or result in death. Additionally, it must prevent the individual from performing past jobs or adapting to new work.

The SSA recognizes various conditions as disabling if they meet certain requirements. These conditions and criteria are published in the SSA’s “Blue Book” of impairments. The SSA directly evaluates the functional impacts of conditions that do not appear in the Blue Book.

To prove a condition is disabling, people seeking SSD benefits should provide extensive medical documentation. These individuals should also supply information about their education, past work and relevant skills. The SSA may use all of this information to determine whether a disabled individual qualifies for disability benefits.