What is Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) pays monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work due to a significant illness or impairment that is expected to last at least a year or to result in death within a year. It is part of the Social Security program that also pays retirement benefits to the vast majority of older Americans.
Can I get Disability Insurance?
The SSA has created a five-step process to determine whether an application for SSD is approved. The criteria include the following:
Step One: Is the Applicant Working?
The SSA will not consider a person for disability if they make more than a specified amount each month. If they make less than the designated amount, the SSA will take a more in-depth look at the applicant’s medical condition.
Step Two: Is the Applicant’s Medical Condition Severe?
For the SSA to rule the applicant “disabled,” the medical condition must prevent the applicant from performing basic functions of work for at least a year. If this is the case, the SSA will look at step three.
Step Three: Is the Applicant’s Medical Condition on the SSA’s “list of disabling conditions?”
If the applicant’s medical condition is not
on the list of illnesses that automatically
qualify for disability, the SSA will check to
see if the condition is as severe as those on
the list. If the condition does not fit the
list, the SSA will look at step four. Some of
the SSA’s disabling conditions include:
Mental disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, schizophrenia, PTSD;
Musculoskeletal system problems such as back and spine conditions, arthritis, amputations, fractures, carpal tunnel syndrome, scoliosis, fibromyalgia;
Skin disorders such as psoriasis, burns, ichthyosis;
Respiratory illnesses such as asthma, emphysema, PPH, cystic fibrosis, lung transplant;
Immune system disorders such as MS, HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis;
Digestive tract problems such as Crohn’s Disease, liver disease, hepatitis, IBD;
Impairments that affect multiple body systems such as lyme disease, metabolic disorders;
Senses and speech issues such as vision, hearing, and speech loss;
Endocrine disorders such as diabetes, thyroid problems, neuropathy, obesity;
Cardiovascular conditions such as heart failure or coronary artery disease;
Neurological disorders such as cerebral palsy, stroke, traumatic brain injury (TBI) Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy;
Genitourinary impairments such as chronic renal (kidney) disease, chronic hemodialysis;
Hematological disorders such as sickle cell disease, hemophilia, myelofibrosis; and
Malignant neoplastic diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma, most kinds of cancer.
Step Four: Can the Applicant Perform the Work They Did Before?
The agency will review the applicant’s claim and decide, based on the applicant’s injury, whether they are capable of performing the work they did before the injury. If they cannot, the SSA will move to step 5.
Step Five: Is the Applicant Capable of Performing Any Other Work?
The SSA will review the applicant’s age, medical condition, education, past work experience, and skills to determine if they can perform gainful employment in a different capacity. If the applicant is not physically capable of performing other work, the SSA will rule the applicant “disabled.”
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