The Social Security system includes benefits for people unable to work due to disability. Many working-age people in West Virginia rely on these payments when injury or illness prevents them from earning a living. More than 10.5 million disabled workers nationwide or their families collect disability benefits. People who lose their ability to work must meet certain requirements to receive payments, and their status will change when they reach retirement age.
The Social Security Administration defines disability as a medical problem that will prevent employment for at least one year or cause death. Applicants must pass the recent work test and duration of work test to qualify. Adults need to have worked in covered employment for at least 10 years. People need to show that they worked at least five of those ten years before the disability arose. When applicants meet all conditions, the SSA should approve benefits. After collecting disability payments for two years, a person then becomes eligible for Medicare.
When a disabled person reaches retirement age, the SSA reclassifies disability benefits as retirement benefits. This switch does not alter the monetary amount of payments. For people born between 1943 through 1954, the federal government sets their retirement age at 66. Full retirement age for people born after 1960 is 67.
A person approaching the Social Security Administration alone might encounter difficulty when applying for Social Security Disability. Someone who has questions about the process or has already been denied benefits could ask an attorney for information. An attorney could evaluate the claimant's medical records and work history and explain how to answer application questions. The claimant could rely on the attorney to prepare paperwork. An attorney could also appeal a denial and organize records so that the administration might recognize the claimant's legitimate need.