Here's What You Need to Know About Qualifying for Social Security

Older couple holding a piece of paper

When a disability becomes so severe that you can no longer work, you may consider filing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI.) But how do you know if you will qualify for Social Security? If you’ve paid into the Social Security system throughout your lifetime and are disabled before you reach retirement age, you may be eligible for benefits through SSDI. But you don’t have to go it alone. With the right partner, you’re more likely to be awarded the benefits you deserve. 

At Affleck & Gordon, we understand that this is a trying time. Perhaps you’ve been out of work for months. You’re adapting to life with a disability, and you need help. We’re here to make sure that you get the benefits you’re eligible for in a timely manner. 

The Social Security Administration generally pays monthly benefits to those who can show that their condition will keep, or has kept them out of work for 12 months or longer. 

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

Social Security pays for total disability, and does not have programs for partial or short-term disability benefits. The SSA considered someone unable to work if they meet the following criteria

  • You can’t do the work you were able to do before your disability worsened.
  • It’s determined that you can’t do other work because of your medical condition.
  • In addition to your past work history, you must also provide documentation that you cannot do any work in the economy either now, or in the future.
  • Your disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year, or to result in your death.

Does My Medical Condition Satisfy the Requirements for Disability?

The SSA has created a list of qualifying disabilities, both mental and physical, that qualify for full monthly benefits. You may still receive benefits if your condition is not on this list, but only if you can prove that your condition is severe enough that you are unable to work in the national economy. 

It’s common for the Social Security Administration to deny claims for disability. In fact, up to 64% of all claims are denied on their first attempt at benefits. Having the best legal representative can help you know your rights, prepare your medical evidence, and prepare you for a hearing regarding your claim. 

How Does the SSA Determine if I’m Disabled?

The SSA goes through a series of steps to determine your ability to work. After all, every case is unique. By seeking legal representation, you can align yourself with specialists who can help you navigate the steps to gaining full disability benefits. 

The thought of not working for a year due to your disability may feel unmanageable. However, once you qualify, you may be eligible for past-due benefits. Your disability attorney will only receive payment if you win your case, and their fee will come from the past-due benefits you are awarded, with a maximum fee of 25% not to exceed $6000 in most cases. By having the right Social Security disability attorneys working for you, you are more likely to have your claim approved.

Here are the questions asked by the SSA to determine if you can be considered disabled: 

  1. Are you working?
    If you’re currently earning $1220 or more per month in 2019, you aren’t considered disabled by the SSA, and the agency will not even review your medical records to determine your medical disabilities. In addition, if you are working at amounts less than $1220, the SSA has every right to consider how your work activity shows your ability to function. This is true for part-time work, as well. 
  2. How severe is your condition?
    If your medical impairments have more than a minimal impact on your ability to work, then you have a severe impairment. If you’ve been unable to perform basic job functions like lifting, standing, walking, sitting, and remembering for 12 months, your condition is considered severe enough for you to receive benefits. 
  3. Is your condition on the list of disabling conditions?
    If your disability meets the extremely high thresholds for listing levels severity, you will be considered for disability. If not, you’ll have to move on to Steps 4 and 5 of the process. If you meet a listing according to SSA, the analysis ends, and you will not move on to Steps 4 or 5. 
  4. Are you able to do the work you’ve done in the past?
    If you can no longer work in a field where you have previous experience because of your disability, this is only half the battle. 
  5. Can you do another type of work? 
    Even if you can’t work in a field where you have previous experience, but you can do other work as defined by the SSA, you are not considered eligible for disability benefits. Attaining the ages of 50 and 55 can change the need to prove that you cannot do any other work. The SSA recognizes that it is harder to transition to other work as a person ages. This is a complicated legal standard that a skilled attorney can navigate for you. 

What are the Benefits of Hiring a Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney?

There are three major benefits to you in hiring the right Social Security attorney to represent you and your case. 


Look for an attorney with experience in obtaining benefits for other clients in situations similar to yours. If you retain representation before presenting your case, statistics show you are much more likely to be approved for your benefits without first being denied. This is because your attorney knows the correct medical evidence you’ll need to strengthen your case. They can communicate with social security representatives on your behalf and smooth the flow of communication.


The second reason to work with a Social Security attorney is that they are skilled in helping you prepare for a hearing. By easing your fears regarding your claim, your team can lead you through the process so that you know what to expect at every turn. This can expedite your claim, meaning you’ll receive your benefits, and back-pay benefits, faster.  Your attorney can also seek to help you get an expedited hearing if you fall on severe financial and economic difficulties while waiting for your claim to be decided. 

Local Knowledge

The third reason that Affleck and Gordon are the right firm to hire for your Atlanta area Social Security disability claim is that they’re a local firm that knows the best way to navigate the complex web of Social Security systems and processes in Georgia. As an established firm that has handled Social Security claims in Georgia for four decades, they will treat you like a person, not a number. They’re here to help you obtain the disability benefits that you deserve. 

If your Social Security Disability claim has been denied, or you’re thinking about filing and don’t know where to start, Affleck & Gordon can help. We’ve been helping people in Georgia just like you for over 45 years. Sign up for a free case evaluation here, or call us (404) 990-3945.

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