Social Security has its own precise definition of disability and it is not the same as a workers’ comp or LTD carriers’ definitions. If there is a severe impairment of any kind, the only SOcial Security questions are:
1. Whether the person can work full-time at any kind of work (not just past work)
2. Whether the condition has lasted, or is expected to last for at least twelve consecutive months.
Eligibility also depends on age, education and work experience. A big difference is that a claimant might be eligible for Security or SSI even if there is no liability – for example, an injury that was unrelated to work, or even the client’s own fault, such as a one-car accident.
People who can’t work full-time often present with a combination of conditions – rarely the neat packages of cleanly defined conditions that make them immediately eligible for Social Security and SSI disability. They sometimes seek legal advice for a personal injury, but they may not be advised about eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. Attorneys who specialize in other areas of the law such as personal injury or workers compensation may not be fully aware of eligibility criteria.
It is also important to know that for Social Security disability, the injury does not have to be permanent. Even an injury or condition that resolved after (at least) 12 months can create eligibility for what is called a “closed period” of disability.
All of us pay into this Social Security disability system out of the FICA deductions from our paychecks. If you work until your retirement age, benefits are paid out in relation to what you paid in. However, if you become disabled before your retirement age, even if you are over 62, you may be able to draw out of that fund as a disabled person. The FICA system is like an insurance program that all workers pay in to. A lifetime of work earns the right to support if disability occurs.The alternative SSI program provides protection for people without a work history.