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Lehighton Estate, Family & Workers’ Comp Lawyer > Blog > Social Security Disability > Basic Eligibility Rules For Social Security Disability In Pennsylvania

Basic Eligibility Rules For Social Security Disability In Pennsylvania


When you suffer from a disabling medical condition that carries significant physical or mental limitations, it is likely that you will be able to earn a living through working. A key financial resource is not available, and you cannot support your basic needs without an income. Fortunately, you may qualify for monetary benefits under one of two Social Security Administration (SSA) disability programs. If you qualify, you can receive payments to cover living expenses. Depending on your situation, you may also be eligible for medical treatment under Medicare and Medicaid.

The criteria to qualify for Social Security disability are strict, and it can take months or longer to get approval from SSA. The best strategy is to provide meticulous, organized documents and other information, without errors or omissions. Your Lehighton Social Security disability lawyer will handle details on preparing your application, but keep in mind the two important criteria you must meet. 

  1. Medical Eligibility: Social Security disability programs only pay benefits to those who are truly disabled, either because of an ailment or injury. SSA will consider you to have a qualifying disability if:
  • You cannot engage earn a basic income because of your medical condition, in an amount SSA terms Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA);
  • You are unable to do the job tasks you did before becoming disabled and cannot adjust to another position to accommodate your medical condition; AND,
  • Your disabling medical condition is expected to persist for at least 12 months or result in death.

The specifics for the medical requirement are contained in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments, known familiarly as the Blue Book. There are hundreds of conditions, and you may qualify under this rule if you equal or meet one. You will need extensive, exhaustive medical records – far more detailed documentation than a simple diagnosis.

  1. Criteria Under Social Security Disability Programs: The rules are different for the two SSA programs, which are:
  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): Eligibility for this program is based upon your work history. For every quarter you are employed, you earn work credits through payroll taxes. These represent deductions from your paycheck taken through the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). SSA will review your work credits to determine eligibility for SSDI.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI): This program is needs-based, so you may qualify if your net worth is under a threshold amount established by regulations. SSA will look at your income from all sources, including interest and investments. Plus, the fair market value of your assets must be less than the designated amount, though some items are excluded from consideration.

Discuss Eligibility Rules with a Carbon County, PA SSDI/SSI Attorney

Applying for Social Security disability benefits may seem as simple as filling out some forms and supplying information on the two criteria above. However, many initial applications are denied, so it is wise to get legal help. For additional details on eligibility for SSDI/SSI, please contact the Law Office of Kim M. Gillen, P.C. to set up a consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer.



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