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What are the Social Security Disability Eligibility Criteria

by Mark Sander5 min read
Social Security Disability Eligibility

Being disabled and unable to work can be an extremely difficult. Which is why the Social Security Administration (SSA) provides protection for those too disabled to find gainful employment. However, to ensure that only those who really need help are given benefits, the SSA has a list of Social Security Disability eligibility criteria.


Social Security Disability eligibility for the disabled.


What are the Social Security Disability eligibility criteria?

Here are a list of criteria that you need to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits:

  • Proof of Disability

If you are planning to apply for Social Security Disability, then you need to prove that you are disable as per the SSA’s Definition of Disability. This means that you need to prove that you are either permanently disabled (according to the SSA definition), or, that you have been or will be disabled for more than 12 months.

This requires you to submit all documents related to your disability.

Another key decider will be your ability to do “substantial gainful activity’ as defined by the SSA. Basically, your disability should prevent you from being able to work not only in your previous job, but also prevent you from finding new avenues of employment.


Documents Required for Social Security Disability eligibility

According to the Social Security Administration, the following is a list of documents you will require to prove your eligibility for Social Security Disability:

  • Your birth certificate/document proving your birth
  • Proof of your being either a US citizen or a legal alien.
  • If you were in the American military before 1968, then you need to also submit your discharge papers
  • Self-employment tax return papers or/and W-2 Forms
  • A fully completed Adult Disability Report. This report collects all the details related to your disability as well as your work history
  • All medical evidences such as doctors’ reports, test results, medical records, etc.
  • You also need to submit all documents related to any form of temporary or permanent compensation you may have received from either the state or the SSA for your disability. This includes award letters, settlement agreements (for Workers’ Compensation), pay stubs or any other document that would act as proof of benefits paid out to you.


Questions asked of you when you are being assessed for Social Security Disability eligibility

The SSA will also interview you to check whether you are truly eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Some of the questions you will be asked are:

  • Name/ gender/ SSN
  • If your name at birth was different from what it is now, then the SSA will also ask you this question
  • Your date and place of birth
  • The SSA will also ask you if there was ever a record made of your birth before you turned 5
  • You will be asked about your citizenship status
  • Whether anyone else in your family applied for SSD/SSI or Medicare for you. If the answer is yes, then you will also need to provide the details of the Social Security records of that previous application
  • If you served in the military before 1968, then the details of your discharge as well as whether you were ever awarded any benefits upon discharge.
  • If you/your spouse have ever worked in the railroads

The list is a long one, however, it would benefit you to take the time to go through all the requirements to apply for Social Security using the Disability Starter Kit


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