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A few facts about Social Security disability

Navigating the complex maze of the Social Security disability system can be quite a challenge. While the technicalities may seem overwhelming, there are some facts that those seeking benefits should keep in mind, as they are critically important.

The first fact that a disabled individual should know is that SSD benefits are earned through work experience. Those who have the requisite work history and later become disabled may be able to recover benefits. However, those who have not worked will be disqualified from recovering benefits. Second, an individual should understand that the Social Security Administration is very strict about granting claims. It will look at each and every aspect of its regulations to see if a claimant is deserving of benefits. Therefore, those thinking about pursuing a claim, as well as those who have had a claim denied, need to look to see how best they can show that their medical condition meets the SSA's definition of "disabled."

Third, individuals need to recognize that SSD benefits, while extremely beneficial, may only account for a fraction of their losses. For example, in 2015, the average disability benefit payment was $1,165 a month. Although this can be a true financial lifesaver for a disabled individual who is unable to work, it certainly won't leave them living high on the hog. The SSA minimizes these payments to encourage those who are able to get back to work.

It is estimated that approximately 56 million Americans have a disability. Those who find their disability interfering with their ability to work and earn the wage they need to survive should consider whether seeking SSD benefits is right for them. These individuals will need to assess whether they meet federal requirements and, if so, how best to present their evidence. A legal advocate may be able to give such an individual the facts and assistance they need to make the legal decision they believe supports their best interests.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Facts," accessed on Nov. 21, 2016

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