Although it is not a quick resolution, as typically the approval process can take a year or longer, you could apply for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
One of the most important rules for Social Security disability is that your medical disability must have lasted, or be expected to last, for at least one year for benefits to be awarded. There are no temporary disability benefits through Social Security. In addition, Social Security disability is for fully disabled, not partially disabled, people.
To qualify for benefits, under either SSDI or SSI (SSI is Supplemental Security Income for people with little or no work history but pays far less, you must have a medical condition that is severe and either:
- meets the strict requirements of a Social Security impairment listing, or
- makes working at any of your past jobs impossible, or
- makes working at a less physically or mentally strenuous job impossible. (Social Security takes into account your education, age, and skill set, but not whether there are jobs in your area, when making this determination.)
Most people will not meet a specific "listing" criteria. therefore, you need to have evidence that your medical condition causes specific functional limitations that keep you from being able to perform job duties. Functional limitations can include things like how well you can see and hear, how long you can sit or stand, how well you can stoop, crouch, bend, and how well you can grasp things. There are other things that are factors - for example, a person who is only able to work one day a week or needs frequent rest breaks wouldn't be productive enough, and would miss too many days, to be considered employable. This article talks a little bit about qualifying disabilities.
On the legal/financial side, if you earn a certain amount of money per month (called the "substantial gainful activity," or SGA level), you are considered to be gainfully employed, and therefore not eligible for disability benefits. In 2016, the SGA level is $1,130 per month. Therefore, a person could technically work part-time and still qualify; however, doing so runs the risk of an examiner determining that because a person can do "X" job for so many hours, they are capable of doing other work -maybe even an easier, less strenuous job, on a full-time basis.
Applying for SSDI involves making an appointment with your local Social Security office and going in person. Most people are denied at the initial level, which can take several months to hear back on. The next level of appeal (which not all states have) is called "Reconsideration" -a second look at your case by another examiner. That can take another couple months to review. If you are denied at that level, you have the right to ask for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Believe it or not, most people who are approved qualify at hearing, where a judge can hear from the person (you are allowed representation) and their representative can question the medical and/or vocational experts. However, the wait for a hearing can be long - waiting a year for a hearing wouldn't be atypical.
Navigating SSDI is tricky, and you want the best chance at getting your case approved as soon as possible. My recommendation, that while it is not required, is that you hire a social security disability lawyer to represent you. Such lawyers work on contingency, meaning you pay nothing unless they recover money for you.
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