Do I qualify
for benefits?

Understand the Social Security
Administration’s evaluation process.

Do I Qualify?

Whether you are first applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or if you have been denied benefits and need to file an appeal, you need to understand the Social Security programs and the Social Security Administration’s evaluation process.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While the medical determination for these programs is identical, the programs are not the same.

Types of Disability Benefits


The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program pays benefits to you and certain family members if:

1) You are disabled according to the SSA 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process.
2) You have earned enough work credits through paying Social Security taxes or FICA as they appear on your payroll deductions.
3) Your disabling conditions prevented you from working prior to your date last insured (DLI), generally 20 quarters after you stop working.

SSDI does not consider a claimant’ assets or other household income or resources when awarding benefits. The typical example is when one spouse becomes disabled and unable to work. If that person is has enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, it does not matter if the other spouse continues to work and has a steady income. Remember, SSDI is an INSURANCE policy. You paid your premium every time taxes were taken from your payroll.


Supplemental Security Income (SSI) pays a fixed monthly benefit amount (currently $710.00/month) if:

1) You are disabled according to the SSA 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process.
2) You have resources less than $2,000 dollars.

SSI is a financially needs based program for disabled adults and children who have low or no income and resources. While this program does not require that the claimant has earned the requisite work credits as with SSDI, this program considers household income as a whole when awarding benefits. An individual’s SSI can be reduced by household income or assets.

Disability Defined

Social Security uses a 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process to determine if you are disabled.

Your conditions prevent you from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA), currently less than $1,040/month.
Your conditions are “severe” and have lasted 12 months or longer or are expected to last that long or result in death.
Your conditions meet one of the medical listings in the Social Security regulations for disability. (If SSA determines you medically meet a listing, the evaluation is over and you are found disabled, but if not…)
Your conditions prevent you from performing your past relevant work. (The jobs you have performed during the last 15 years)
Your conditions prevent you from performing any competitive work in the national economy.
It is important to seek a qualified attorney to assist you with the disability application process. The 5 Step Sequential Evaluation Process is just the skeletal outline of the SSA disability process and volumes of analysis, legal argument and arcane rules published by SSA exist that are often obscure and difficult to research. This is your life, get the help you need to protect your rights!

Medical Conditions for Disability

Nearly any medical conditions that prevent you from working or ANY COMBINATION OF IMPAIRMENTS that prevent you from working can qualify for disability. The following list is just a partial list but provides a number of common medical conditions addressed by SSA.

Chronic Pain
Chronic Fatigue
Heart Disease
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Bipolar Disorder
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Hepatitis C
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Spinal Injuries
Lung Disease
Osteoarthritis of the joints
Lumbar and Cervical Spine disorders
Lyme Tick Disease
Connective Tissue Disease
Auto-immune Disorder

Gustad Law Group can help!

Remember that SSA does not consider your medical conditions individually or in isolation. If all your medical conditions in combination prevent you from working, you may qualify for disability. Please contact a Social Security Disability lawyer from Gustad Law today for a FREE CONSULTATION about your disability case. Our experience can make all the difference in getting your claim approved as quickly as possible.

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