Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

People often wonder if they are disabled enough to apply for and receive Social Security benefits. To be found disabled, you must
be unable to do any substantial work because of your medical condition, and the condition has lasted (or is expected to last) for 12
months or is expected to result in death.

Federal law provides a strict definition of disability, but, generally speaking, it is easier to be found disabled as you get older. For
example, if you are over the age of 50 and have a severe impairment that prevents you from doing most work, you probably qualify. If
you are over age 55 and are unable to perform any of the jobs you have performed in the past 15 years, you likely will qualify as well.

If you are younger, then it becomes a bit trickier. While you don’t have to be totally incapacitated to be found disabled, if you are
under age 45 or 50, you’ll have to show that you cannot do any of your past work and cannot work full-time at any other regular job.
If you cannot do other work, you will probably be found disabled and receive benefits. However, if you can do some alternative type
of work, your claim will be denied.

If you are truly disabled and unable to work, go ahead and apply for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. It
will probably be necessary to appeal several denials, at least in the hearing before an administrative law judge. Even if you are denied
benefits at that stage, an experienced disability attorney can often devise a way to prevail in your claim in an appeal before the
Appeals Council.