Question: I Can't Work, Why Can't I Get Disability Benefits??

By Jessica M. Friedman of Friedman Law Firm, P.C.

Thursday, October 26, 2023

Guest Post by our paralegal Sheri:

Many people who call us for help getting Social Security disability have chronic, debilitating, medical conditions (Lupus, MS, Cancer, Heart Failure). Often, their doctor has told them that they cannot work, but SSA says they don’t qualify for benefits—why is that?

Well, you can qualify for disability in a few ways:

  1. Have worked and paid Social Security taxes from your paycheck substantially for at least the last 5 out of 10 years prior to your alleged disability onset date. (If you don’t have enough work history, you don’t meet the qualifications established by SSA.)

  1. If you don’t have enough work credits, and your income is below limits established yearly by SSA, then you may qualify for SSI. The amount of SSI paid to you is based on ALL other household income (including your spouse and others who reside in your home). This is like the food stamp program. You must meet a household and dependent threshold to even be considered eligible for this income-based program.

  1. If you are a disabled widow/er, between age 50-60, apply within 7 years of your spouse’s death, and are considered disabled based on SSA’s terms, then you may qualify.

In each situation, you have to play by SSA's rules. If you do not meet any of these basic qualifications, then unfortunately you are more than likely not eligible for these benefits—you might not have worked enough to qualify (see #1 above) and have too much income/resources, (like a spouse who works, see #2 above). Or, you may have missed the window for applying after your spouse’s death (see #3).

When someone calls us asking for help, these are some of questions we will ask so that we have a full understanding of that person’s eligibility. If you don’t meet these eligibility requirements, your medical information won’t be considered by the Social Security Administration.

Being told that you do not qualify, in No Way Invalidates the fact that you are disabled. These are just the rules that must be applied when considering taking on your case. These are not OUR rules – we wish we could help everyone who needs our assistance. These are rules established by the Social Security Administration. They are not personal, nor meant to discredit your condition in any way. They are just the rules.


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