If you got injured while doing your job, then you might just qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits. In theory, this all sounds easy. In reality, however, disability applications are routinely denied for the most mundane of reasons.
In 2018 alone, the SSA received over 20 million applications for disability benefits. Unfortunately, only 35% of them were granted that same year. This means that over 13 million applications were either rejected or subjected to further review.
There are various reasons why an application can get denied. Most of the time, applications get rejected because:
- their conditions did not meet the SSA’s definition of disability, or
- they’re not insured for disability benefits
To increase your chances of getting approved, here are the top questions you need to ask before applying for disability in Florida.
Will You Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Basically, the SSA looks at two crucial factors to evaluate your application: your medical condition and social security credits.
As a rule of thumb, the SSA can only consider your medical condition a disability if:
- it prevents you from doing “substantial gainful activity”
- it’s expected to last for more than a year
- it’s expected to result in death
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) is any type of work with an income that exceeds the amount set by the SSA. The SGA amount changes each year and for 2020, it’s at $1,260. If the work you’re doing does not earn you more than that amount, you may still qualify for disability.
The SSA also maintains a list of disabling conditions (both physical and mental). It includes various diseases that the SSA considers severe enough to warrant a disability benefit.
Social Security Credits
If you haven’t paid social security taxes, you can’t expect to receive social security benefits. Thus before you can claim for disability, you must have earned the required social security credits.
To earn these credits, you must have worked in jobs covered by social security. Your credits will depend on your total yearly wages. For 2020, an income of at least $1,410 is required to earn credits. You can only earn up to 4 credits a year.
In general, you need to have at least 40 work credits to qualify for disability. Twenty of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. But younger workers may still qualify even if they have fewer credits.
How Much Will You Get?
The SSA calculates your social security disability benefits based on your covered earnings. This is your average income from which you’ve paid social security taxes.
The SSA applies a complicated formula to your average covered earnings to come up with your monthly disability payment. For a more detailed calculation, please refer to the SSA’s online calculator.
Since covered earnings vary for everyone, the benefit amount can also differ for each person. According to the SSA, the average SSDI benefit in 2019 is $1,234 per person. But most beneficiaries only receive between $800 to $1,800.
Benefit payments may also fluctuate each month as the SSA considers other income you’ve earned during the month.
When Should You Apply For Disability?
In general, the SSA advises that you should apply for disability benefits as soon as possible.
Disability benefit applications can take months to get approved. And there’s a very big chance that it can get denied. While waiting for the SSA’s decision, you need to pay for your medicine, food, and rent. With no work and no income, making ends meet might not be possible.
Thus, it’s best to apply for disability benefits at once to avoid missing out on benefits.
Can You Apply For Disability After Age 62?
Yes, you can as long as you haven’t reached your full retirement age. Between the ages of 62 to 66, Americans can opt between early retirement or filing for disability. At full retirement age, disability benefits will automatically convert to retirement benefits.
The chances of your disability claim getting approved also increases as you age. That’s because it’s usually harder for older people to find gainful employment – making disability easier to prove.
How Can You Apply For Disability in Florida?
There are three ways you can apply for social security disability in Florida: online, by phone or in-person.
To apply online, just sign-up for an SSA account. If you already have one, you only need to complete the disability benefit application and the medical release forms.
If technology isn’t your strongest suit, you can also apply by phone. Just contact the SSA at 1-800-772-1213 or at 1-800-325-0778 if you are hard of hearing. This hotline is available from Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For in-person applications, you can visit the local SSA office. Just enter your zip code to locate the ones nearest you.
Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Yes, you should. Dealing with a debilitating medical condition and unemployment can be too much to handle already. The last thing you need is to get stressed out with your disability claim application.
An experienced workers compensation lawyer like Victor Malca can help ensure the approval of your disability claim. With his more than two decades of experience, he can help you more easily navigate the complicated disability claims process. He will guide you throughout the entire process up until your case is won and you get the benefits you rightfully deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.