Social Security Disability-Overview

I field many calls regarding Social Security Disability and many of these calls surround what is required in order to get approved for benefits. That is somewhat of a loaded question, as there are a lot of factors that go into answering, so this article will serve as an overview in order to hopefully answer some questions that people have.

First off, when applying for Social Security, you must demonstrate that you are disabled. According to Social Security Disability, disabled is defined as “inability to sustain full time competitive employment for a period of 12 months or longer.” Determining whether or not someone is disabled requires a thorough analysis of the applicant’s medical and employment history. Much of my initial consultations are spent going over the client’s medical history, employment history, and educational background. It’s also very important to understand that the applicant’s age when applying for Social Security Disability plays a crucial role in whether or not they will be approved. Essentially, the older the applicant is, the more likely they will be approved.

Secondly, the applicant must have “insured status” in order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. “Insured status” defines a working having put money into the system-typically by having money withheld from their paycheck and paid to the Social Security Administration. Without going into too much detail, an applicant needs to have worked enough hours and paid enough into Social Security Administration in order to be eligible for benefits. Also, depending on how much you’ve worked, there will be a “date last insured” for each applicant. The applicant must prove that he/she was disabled no later than the “date last insured”.  If you have questions regarding your “insured status” or “date last insured”, your local Social Security office is a great resource to answer these questions. You can also create an online account and the online portal will also provide the answers.

Now that you’ve got an understanding of some crucial aspects of Social Security Disability, the process is somewhat straightforward. There will be an initial application. This initial application is a lengthy document that attempts to explain why the applicant is disabled. The Social Security Administration will provide a written determination regarding the initial application and whether the applicant is deemed disabled or not. If the applicant is denied on their initial application, he/she may file what’s known as a Request for Reconsideration. The Request for Reconsideration is essentially like the initial application, but allows the applicant to provide additional information as to why the reasoning for the first denial was inaccurate. Similar to the initial application, the Social Security Administration provides a written determination to the Request for Reconsideration. Finally, if the Request for Reconsideration is denied, the applicant has a final appeal called a “Request for Formal Hearing”. The Request for Formal Hearing is the opportunity for the applicant to have a video conference with a judge who will make a final determination of disability. This is the first opportunity for the applicant to have a face-to-face hearing (albeit via video conference) with the judge who will determine whether or not the applicant is disabled.

Please send any request for topic suggestions to  Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know.  Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.