If you are injured in an accident, you may find yourself wondering, “can partial disabilities qualify for SSDI?” SSDI benefits are paid only for total disabilities, not partial disabilities. To qualify for SSDI benefits, individuals must have a physical or mental impairment that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity and is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. Partial disabilities that do not meet these criteria may not qualify for SSDI benefits.

If you need help with Social Security disability benefits in Illinois, contact Ankin Law disability attorneys for a free case evaluation. Call us today at 872-529-9377.

What Are Partial Disabilities?

Partial disabilities refer to impairments that affect an individual’s ability to perform certain tasks or activities, but do not completely prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful activity. Unlike total disabilities, which significantly limit a person’s capacity to work, partial disabilities may allow individuals to continue working in some capacity, although their ability to do so may be limited or restricted. Examples of partial disabilities include chronic pain, mobility limitations, cognitive impairments, and sensory impairments.

Partial disabilities can vary widely in severity and impact, ranging from mild limitations that require minor accommodations to more significant impairments that affect daily functioning and work performance. While individuals with partial disabilities may face challenges in some aspects of their lives, they often possess skills and abilities that allow them to remain productive and contribute to the workforce.

The classification of a disability as partial or total depends on various factors, including the individual’s specific impairments, functional limitations, and ability to perform work-related tasks. Assessments of partial disabilities may consider factors such as the individual’s education, training, work experience, and transferable skills when determining their eligibility for disability benefits or accommodations.

SSDI Eligibility for Partial Disabilities

SSDI eligibility for partial disabilities is a nuanced area, primarily because SSDI benefits are typically awarded for total disabilities, not partial ones. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a severe physical or mental impairment expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. This definition emphasizes the total inability to work, rather than the presence of partial impairments.

However, individuals with partial disabilities may still qualify for SSDI benefits under certain circumstances. Here’s how partial disabilities could potentially factor into SSDI eligibility:

Consideration of Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

The SSA evaluates an individual’s residual functional capacity (RFC) to assess their ability to perform work-related activities despite their impairments. RFC considers the functional limitations caused by the individual’s impairments and determines his or her capacity for work-related tasks, such as sitting, standing, walking, lifting, and concentrating.

Impact on Work Capacity

While SSDI benefits are typically reserved for individuals unable to engage in SGA due to total disabilities, partial disabilities that significantly limit an individual’s ability to work may still meet the eligibility criteria. If the individual’s impairments restrict his or her work capacity to the point where he or she cannot perform substantial gainful activity, he or she may qualify for SSDI benefits.

Duration and Severity of Impairments

The severity and duration of the individual’s impairments play a crucial role in SSDI eligibility. Even if the impairments are partial, they must be severe enough to prevent the individual from engaging in SGA for at least 12 months or result in death. The SSA evaluates medical evidence, including diagnosis, treatment history, and functional limitations, to determine the severity and duration of impairments.

Age, Education, and Work Experience

The SSA considers factors such as age, education, and work experience when evaluating SSDI eligibility. Individuals with partial disabilities may qualify for benefits if their impairments, in combination with other factors like age and work history, prevent them from adjusting to other work that exists in significant numbers in the national economy.

Medical-Vocational Guidelines

In cases where the individual’s impairments do not meet the criteria of a listed impairment in the SSA’s “Blue Book” (Listing of Impairments), the SSA may use the medical-vocational guidelines to assess SSDI eligibility. These guidelines consider the individual’s RFC, age, education, and work experience to determine his or her capacity for work and eligibility for benefits.

While SSDI benefits are primarily intended for individuals with total disabilities, those with partial disabilities may still qualify for benefits if their impairments significantly limit their ability to engage in substantial gainful activity. Understanding the criteria for SSDI eligibility and how partial disabilities are assessed can help individuals navigate the application process and pursue benefits to which they may be entitled. Consulting with a qualified SSDI attorney or representative can provide valuable assistance in presenting a strong case for benefits based on partial disabilities.

An experienced attorney who handles partial disability claims can show you how to prove you can’t work enough to earn the same income you were earning before your injury.

Tips for Applying for SSDI Benefits

According to Social Security statistics, approximately 2 million people apply for disability benefits each year in the United States. In 2022, 4.8% of adults living in Illinois were receiving disability benefits. In 2022, about one in three processed disability applications were approved. Many denials were due to applicants not meeting the Social Security Administration’s nonmedical, or “technical,” requirements. For those who did meet these initial requirements, the approval rate was approximately 53%.

When you apply for SSDI benefits in Illinois, your chances of approval can be increased by working with Social Security disability attorneys who understand how disability works. The SSA has strict guidelines related to disability claims, and if you don’t follow their guidelines, you can make mistakes that can destroy your Social Security disability case.

Before you apply for disability benefits, take note of tips that will help you get approved:

1.      You must have a medical condition that prevents you from performing your normal work duties and reduces your normal income.

2.      Your physical or mental impairments must be diagnosed by a licensed physician and must have lasted or be expected to last for at least one full year.

3.      You must show proof of your physical or mental impairments by providing medical records from a licensed physician. Records must show a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan.

4.      You must have worked long enough and recently enough in jobs that were covered by Social Security, and you must have paid Social Security taxes.

5.      You need work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. The number of work credits you need to qualify for benefits depends on your age when your disability began. Generally, a worker must have worked 5 of the last 10 years to have enough work credits.

Avoid These Common SSDI Mistakes

According to the SSA, at least 50% of disability claims are denied because of common mistakes, so pay close attention to what type of information is required in your application.

Common mistakes include:

  • Incorrect or incomplete personal information
  • Incorrect or incomplete work history
  • Lack of medical history and medical records
  • Proof of other temporary or permanent benefits
  • Failure to follow medical advice from a licensed physician
  • Failure to file a claim within the SSA required time limit

What to Do if Your Disability Claim Is Denied

If your claim for disability is denied, contact an attorney to help you file an appeal. In Illinois, your attorney can file three different types of appeals to get your claim approved. These include a Request for Reconsideration, a Request for an Administrative Legal Hearing, and a Request for Review by the Appeals Council. The appeals process can take up to 9 months, depending on how many appeals you have to file and the court’s availability to hear your case.

If you’re disabled and need help getting benefits, contact us. Our experienced Chicago Social Security disability attorneys can help you get approved.