SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) is based on the credits from the work you have done in your life. You must be found disabled before your date last insured (DLI) to be found eligible for SSDI. Your DLI is calculated by counting your “quarters of coverage” from your earnings record. You must have 20 “quarters of coverage” of the last 40 quarters. Simply put, you must have worked 5 years of the last ten years (in general). In addition to having enough credits you must also be found disabled under Social Security’s five-step sequential evaluation:
- Step 1 – Are You Working? The Social Security Administration defines work as “Substantial Gainful Activity” (SGA). SGA is roughly defined as work from earnings that average more than $1,260 (2020) a month. If you are making that amount you generally cannot be considered disabled.
- Step 2 – Is Your Condition “Severe”? Severe is defined by the Social Security Administration as: your condition must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
- Step 3 – Is Your Condition on the List of Disabling Conditions? The Listings are very hard to meet in most cases and not always interpreted as a common reading would suggest. If you meet a listing you are gravely ill. The listings are found here.
- Step 4 – Can You Do the Work You Did Previously? The Social Security Administration will look at your past work and determine if it was sedentary, light, medium, or heavy. They also will evaluate the skill level: unskilled, semi-skilled and skilled. For instance, an attorney would be sedentary skilled work. The Dictionary of Occupational Titles is found here.
- Step 5 – Can You Do Any Other Type of Work? If the Social Security Administration finds that you cannot do what you used to do, they then look to see if you can do anything else. This is where the “grids” come into play. The grids are the Medical-Vocational Guidelines. The grids are only for exertional impairments. Non-exertional impairments are not considered by the grids. If you are found to be capable of any other work, you will be found not disabled. The grids can be found here.
SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a need-based program and you must meet income/asset standards in addition to being found disabled under the five steps above. In 2020, SSI is $783.00 per month for an individual and $1,175 for an eligible couple. SSI will be reduced by 1/3 if you are receiving financial help from others. In NC, SSI recipients are also entitled to Medicaid.
SSI is also available for disabled children and is evaluated under a different standard than adults. Children must have a medically determinable physical or mental impairment or impairments (including emotional or learning problems) which result in marked and severe functional limitations, and the impairment(s) has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or be expected to result in death. Child SSI terminates when the child turns 18. The claimant will then have to reapply and be evaluated under the above adult sequential evaluation.
At the Bishop Law Firm, we are familiar with the types of Social Security Disability benefits and want to help you. We represent Social Security Disability clients in Raleigh, Durham, Rocky Mount, Wilson, Smithfield, Louisburg, Chapel Hill, Roanoke Rapids and surrounding areas in North Carolina. Call us today!