Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits

To obtain Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, people must first prove that they qualify for them by establishing that they meet the specific requirements that have been established by the Social Security Administration (SSA). This process can be quite complicated in some cases, and making mistakes along the way can:

  • Delay a decision for a given claim
  • Result in benefit reductions
  • Possibly even lead to unfair claim denials

At Murphy & Associates, PLC, our Louisville SSD attorneys are experienced at establishing people’s eligibility for disability benefits to the SSA to help them secure the financial support they deserve. At every stage of our clients’ cases, our lawyers will work diligently to facilitate the process, overcome any challenges that may arise and advocate disabled people’s rights so they are able to obtain the benefits to which they are entitled.

How the SSA Determines Eligibility for Disability Benefits

The SSA has a five-step process1 for determining that someone qualifies for disability benefits (when that individual has a qualifying work record). This process specifically involves determining:

  1. Whether an applicant is currently working – If so, the earnings from this work must not exceed a certain amount. For 2015, the designed maximum earnings are $1,090 per month. So, if an applicant’s income exceeds this amount, that person will generally not qualify for benefits.If the earned income is less than this amount (or if applicants are not working), the SSA will send the application to its Disability Determination Services office for continued review.
  2. The severity of the medical condition or impairment – Namely, this will involve assessing whether the condition is severe enough to inhibit basic work-related activities.
  3. Whether the condition is on the SSA’s list of disabling conditions – If a person’s impairment is not specifically included on this list of medical conditions, the SSA will determine whether the impairment is of “equal severity to a medical condition on that list.”
  4. Whether the applicant can perform the same work he previously did – Specifically, this determination will focus in evaluating whether the impairment is preventing a worker from carrying out the same type of work he did prior to the impairment.
  5. Whether the applicant can do other work – With this determination, the SSA will take into consideration the applicant’s age, education, experience and any potentially transferrable work skills.

Qualifying for SSD Benefits: More Important Info

  • In general, a person will have a qualifying work record when (s)he has worked in a job covered by Social Security for a minimum amount of time (and this is usually 10 years).
  • Once all necessary forms and supporting documents for a disability benefits application have been submitted to the SSA, it can take between three (3) and five (5) months for the SSA to grant a decision for that claim.
  • This time frame can be sped up in some cases via the SSA’s “compassionate allowances”

Contact a Louisville Disability Lawyer at Murphy & Associates, PLC

Do you need help obtaining disability benefits? Have your attempts to get benefits been met with denials? If so, you can rely on a trusted Louisville disability lawyer at Murphy & Associates, PLC for help obtaining the Social Security disability benefits you may deserve. Our team of lawyers is effective at:

  • Helping our clients navigate the complexities of the Social Security Administration
  • Pursuing appeals when their prior attempts to secure benefits have been wrongfully denied
  • Doing what it takes to help our clients obtain the full amount of disability benefits to which they are entitled


1: SSA eligibility determination process