Abromson & Carey, Attorneys at Law
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How does a person's past work relate to disability benefits?

The Social Security Administration provides Social Security disability benefits for injuries or illnesses that prevent beneficiaries in Newark and nationwide from working. Federal rules do not allow a person to receive disability benefits unless an illness, injury or condition prevents them from doing past work or being able to adjust to other work when they have enough work credits.

These credits are based upon recent work and total yearly wages or self-employment income. Four credits may be earned each year. This requirement changes each year. In 2016, a worker earned one credit for every $1,260 of income and four credits were earned for $5,040 in income.

The number of credits for eligibility for disability benefits depends on a person's age when they become disabled. The general requirement is 40 credits of which 20 were earned in the previous 10 years. The requirement may be lower for younger workers.

After evaluating work credits, the SSA first determines whether the claimant is still working. A person is not disabled for the purpose of receiving disability benefits if that person worked in 2016 and earned, on average, over $1,130 each month. For claimants who are not working, the SSA will send their application to the New Jersey Disability Determination Services office which will decide whether there is a disabling medical condition.

Next, the condition must be severe and interfere with basic work-related activities. A condition which does not interfere with these activities, does not meet the SSA's definition of a disability.

If a condition does not meet that requirement, it must be contained on the SSA's list of medical conditions for major body systems. When it is not on this list, the condition must be classified as being as equally severe to other conditions on this list.

When a severe medical condition does not meet the previous requirement, the SSA determines if it interferes with the claimant's ability to perform earlier work. If not, the SSA will review whether the claimant can adjust to other work by evaluating the claimant's medical condition, age, education, work experience and any skills that are transferable. The SSA will deny a claim when a person does not have an inability to work in other areas.

Eligibility requirements may be complicated. An attorney can help claimants understand their options and meet eligibility. When benefits are denied, a claimant may have an attorney assist with appeals.

Source: Social Security Administration, "Disability planner: How we decide if you are disabled," and "Disability planner: How much work do you need?" Accessed May 19, 2017

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