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How Social Security disability works

On Behalf of Christian Ayers
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You may be familiar with workers’ compensation benefits in North Carolina, but there is also a separate system to compensate people who have been injured in their employment: Social Security disability. This post covers some of the characteristics of how you may qualify for Social Security disability, and what it provides.

One key qualifier for disability benefits under Social Security is that you must be totally disabled. This form of disability will not compensate you for temporary or partial forms of disability. This means that you must be unable to return to the work that you were doing when you were injured, and cannot adapt to perform other kinds of work for at least one year because of your medical condition.

A second threshold requirement is that you must have been working long enough to qualify for disability benefits. Social Security uses a system based on “credits” that you earn while you are working, up to four credits per year of employment.

If you have accumulated sufficient credits, the general rule is that at least 40 credits are needed, half of which must be accumulated in the 10-year period that ended when you became disabled then you meet this requirement. Note, this credit calculation is subject to variations, such as how old you are.

A third factor in determining eligibility for Social Security disability is whether your work injury matches any of the medical conditions that Social Security determines qualify as disabling. This is based on a list of conditions for each major system of the body, but if your injury is not on the list that is not necessarily disqualifying.

If you meet all of the qualifying criteria then there is a good chance that you may be able to receive Social Security disability. There are also some other, special situations that you may also qualify under, such as being wholly or partially blind, or if you are the surviving spouse of a deceased worker.

Because much of the process of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits depends on interpretations by Social Security of your physical condition and other claims, you may want to have the assistance of a law firm experienced with the disability claim process as you go through it. This may be able to expedite the consideration of your claim, and to resolve any potential problems that may arise.