How does one qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

It can be financially devastating when one is unable to work and earn an income. If you have physical or mental limitations that preclude you from holding gainful employment, it can be difficult to meet even your own basic needs, such as paying for food, shelter and clothing. However, if you meet certain requirements, you could be eligible for financial support through the Social Security Administration. Disability benefits are available to qualified applicants, but it is not always easy to secure this type of support. 

If you are currently unable to work or have never been able to earn sufficient income due to your disabling condition, you could be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. Before you move forward with this application, however, you may benefit from seeking a complete understanding of qualifications and eligibility requirements before you move forward. 

Determining if you qualify 

There are certain things the Social Security Administration looks for when reviewing a disability benefits application. According to the SSA, the definition of a disability is something more than a short-term illness that will keep you from working temporarily. In order to qualify, you must expect that your disabling condition will last for a period of at least 12 months or will likely result in death. The following documentation is critical for validating a disability claim: 

  • Medical records 
  • Laboratory findings 
  • Test results 
  • Treatment plan for symptoms 

In addition to the medical documentation you need to provide, it will be necessary for you to prove that you have a condition that prevents you from participating in substantial gainful activities. The SSA will determine, based on evidence provided and other details of your application, whether you are able to perform any type of useful work. It is common for Illinois applicants to receive a denial upon their first attempt at seeking disability benefits. 

Help along the way 

You do not have to navigate the process of seeking disability benefits alone. An assessment of your specific and unique situation with an experienced professional can provide you with insight regarding the legal options available to you. This assistance may give you a better chance of success with your initial claim or provide you with useful guidance if you must seek a reconsideration of your claim or pursue an appeal. 


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The Law Office of William C. Wombacher

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Peoria, IL 61602
NELF | National Elder Law Foundation
CAP | Council of Advanced Practitioners | NAELA | National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, Inc.
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