Disabled individuals who are unable to work often consider applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI” or “disability benefits”) benefits. And, naturally, one of the first things they want to know is: what criteria do they have to meet to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance in Florida?
There are two main criteria you must meet to qualify for disability benefits.
But don’t let the apparent simplicity of that number fool you.
Without the assistance of an experienced disability attorney, applying for SSDI is frequently a difficult, time-consuming and frustrating process.
It’s no secret that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) denies far more applications than it grants. In fact, statistics show that overall, between 2010-2019, the SSA denied 67% of all applications —and the highest amount granted was a mere 23%.
These statistics point out that while the criteria required to qualify for disability benefits may not be a long list, the eligibility requirements are very specific and can be —even though you are disabled and unable to work—very difficult to meet.
Two Federal Disability Programs
Before we look at the two criteria you need to qualify for SSDI, however, it is important to clarify a few facts to avoid unnecessary confusion.
First, SSDI is one of two federal programs that provide benefits to disabled individuals. The other one is the Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) program.
While the abbreviations may look similar, these are two very different programs.
SSDI provides disability benefits to disabled individuals who paid into the Social Security system and paid Social Security taxes on money they earned while working.
SSI, on the other hand, is a needs-based program. It pays benefits for children or adults who are blind or have income or resources below specific financial limits.
With that said, here are the criteria you need to meet to qualify for SSDI.
Two Criteria You Must Meet to Qualify for Florida Disability Benefits.
- You must have worked for a specific period of time, and you must have paid Federal Insurance Contributions Act (“FICA”) premiums while you were working.
Perhaps the easier eligibility criteria to meet for SSDI is that you must have worked long enough, and recently enough, to qualify for benefits.
This means that you must have worked in a job covered by Social Security, and you must have paid Social Security taxes on your earnings.
FICA taxes are payroll taxes. They were originally part of the Social Security program but were made a part of the Internal Revenue Code in 1939. The FICA tax is the tax that pays for Social Security Disability, Social Security retirement and Medicare benefits. Therefore, to be eligible for SSDI, you are required to have contributed to the Social Security fund and to have paid a minimum amount of FICA taxes.
- You must meet the SSA’s strict definition of “disabled.”
You cannot get SSDI for either temporary or short-term disabilities.
Nor can you get SSDI if you do not meet SSA’s very strict definition of “disabled.” You may indeed be disabled and unable to work, however, it is critical to understand that the SSA has its own definition of “disabled,” and unless you meet this definition, you will not qualify for benefits.
According to the SSA, to qualify as “disabled,” you must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) that prevent you from engaging in any “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). Substantial gainful activity is determined by how much money you make working.
Also, your medically determinable condition(s) must either be: (a) expected to result in death, or (b) have lasted, or be expected to last, for a continuous period of 12 months.
Understanding this definition and determining whether or not your condition meets it, is only one of the hurdles to obtaining disability benefits. The other is proving to the satisfaction of the SSA that your condition(s) meet this definition. This is only one reason why you may want to enlist the assistance of an experienced disability attorney.
Disability Attorneys in Orange Park, Florida
If you are disabled and unable to work, John Fagan can help you determine whether disability benefits may be available to help you. Our practice is dedicated to helping those who are injured and disabled or victims of another’s negligence. Contact us here or simply call our firm at: 777-JOHN. We serve clients throughout Florida. Our main office is in Orange Park, but we have consulting offices in Palatka, Middleburg, Keystone, Starke, Gainesville, and Ocala.