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The basics about Social Security Disability benefits

When California residents imagine their old age, very few imagine they would become disabled or unable to work due to a chronic illness. However, one in four of people currently in their twenties is likely to become disabled before they reach the age of 67, according to the Social Security Administration. Since it is a real possibility, preparing for it is very important. One way to prepare is to know the basics about Social Security Disability benefits.

To qualify for SSD benefits, a person must be disabled according to the SSA's definition of "disability." The definition is a strict one and requires that the individual have a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last for 12 months or more, even resulting in death. The disability must be such that it prevents the disabled person from performing "substantial gainful activity." This means it must prevent the person from performing work-related activities. The SSA has a list of impairments it considers serious. If a person's ailment is on the list, that individual will automatically qualify for benefits. If not, then the SSA must evaluate the situation.

Disability is not the only matter at issue. In order to qualify, a person must have enough work credits. This means a baseline of credits must be accrued and this is based on the age at which a person becomes disabled.

When a case is being evaluated by the SSA, the agency looks at the applicant's ability to earn, their medical condition, past work experience, education, transferable skills and age. The agency also looks at whether the applicant can earn any income. If their income is above a certain level, an applicant will likely not be considered disabled.

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