When we think of “disability,” most people naturally think of injuries. When you become handicapped or lose a limb, of course you would be unable to work – disabled – and thus eligible for social security disability benefits.
However, when serious illnesses occur, many people wonder if they are still eligible for social security disability benefits.
Will SSDI cover you if you are unable to work due to serious illness?
The short answer is yes. Throughout the literature on SSDI, disability conditions are referenced as injuries or illnesses. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA) website, “Social Security pays disability benefits to you and certain members of your family if you have worked long enough and have a medical condition that prevents you from working for at least 12 months or is expected to end in death.”
So yes, illnesses are included under SSDI benefits.
However, there is more to it than that.
How do I get SSDI benefits?
It is notoriously difficult for people to actually obtain benefits, even with qualifying conditions. In general, there are three main things you need in order to get your benefits:
- Have a qualifying medical condition: As noted above, you need to have a qualifying disability, which is a condition that prevents you from working. There are layers of nuance to this, but in general, any injury or illness that prevents you from working could potentially qualify you for benefits.
- Have enough work credits: To qualify for benefits, you need to have been working steadily over the past five or 10 years. There are detailed charts of how work credits are earned over time. Only if you have adequate work history will you be able to get the benefits you need.
- Go through the process: A surprisingly large percentage of SSDI applicants are denied benefits. There is a lengthy, detailed and extremely complicated process that SSDI applicants must go through in order to obtain benefits.
If you have suffered an illness or injury that prevents you from working, the most important thing you can do is work with an experienced SSDI lawyer who can walk you through the process and help you get benefits. Most benefits denials are due to simple clerical errors or missing information. Sometimes denials result from incomplete medical language or medical reports lacking the specific terminology the SSDI assessors are looking for. With an experienced attorney you can usually avoid these errors and get the benefits you need.