“The doctor says I can’t work.” That’s not what you want to hear when you are trying to support your family, so what’s next? If your doctor says that you cannot work and are disabled, you could be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits.

It is important to remember that Social Security has a very strict definition of disability. Even if your doctor says you are disabled, that doesn’t mean SSA will automatically approve you for benefits.

You cannot obtain disability benefits solely on the basis of your doctor’s report. They will consider your physician’s assessments, but it must be supported by clinical observations, test results, or other supporting medical evidence. Your doctor will need to explain how he or she arrived at their diagnosis and the assessment of your capabilities and limitations.

*Note: If your doctor says you are disabled but you are struggling with the disability application process, call us at the number above. Our social security experts can guide you through the process of applying for Social Security Benefits.

Requirements to Receive Benefits If You Can’t Work

To receive benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA), you must meet all requirements to qualify.

  • You must have a disability.
  • You must have worked within the last 10 years.
  • You must have enough work credits.

You must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security’s definition of disability and must have been unable to work for a year or more.

You will also need to have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. Your work credits are based on your total yearly wages and you can earn up to four credits each year. The amount of credits you need changes from year to year.

– For example, in 2019, you earn one credit for each $1,360 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $5,440, you’ve earned your four credits for the year.

The number of work credits you need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age and when you become disabled. Normally you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.

You must also keep in mind that if you qualify now but you stop working under Social Security, you may not continue to meet the disability work requirements in the future.

How Does SSA Decide If You Are Disabled?

You are considered disabled under Social Security rules if:

  • You cannot do the work that you did before;
  • SSA decides that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s), AND
  • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or will result in death.

If you have enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits, SSA uses a step-by-step process involving five questions. They are:

  1. Are you working?
  2. Is your condition “severe?”
  3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
  4. Can you do the work you did previously?
  5. Can you do any other type of work?

1. Are You Working?

If you are working in 2019 and your earnings average more than $1,220 a month, you generally cannot be considered disabled.

2. Is Your Condition “Severe?”

Your condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work for at least 12 months. If it does not, the SSA will find that you are not disabled.

3. Is Your Condition Found In The List of Disabling Conditions?

For each of the major body systems, the SSA maintains a list of medical conditions that are considered so severe that it prevents a person from completing substantial gainful activity. If your condition is not on the list, the Social Security Administration will have to decide if it is as severe as a medical condition that is on the list. If it is, you will be found as disabled.

4. Can You Do The Work You Did Previously?

In this step, SSA will decide if your medical impairment(s) prevents you from performing any of your past work. If it doesn’t, they will determine you do not have a qualifying disability.

5, Can You Do Any Other Type Of Work?

If you can’t do the work you did in the past, SSA will see if there is other work you can do despite your impairment(s).

The Social Security Administration considers your medical conditions and your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have. If you can’t do other work, SSA will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, SSA will decide that you don’t have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied.

Let Us Help You!

If your doctor recently diagnosed you with a disability and said you can’t work, reach out to our Social Security Disability experts so that we can assist you and answer any questions you may have. Call us at the number at the top of the page.