Frequently Asked Questions About Social Security Disability

In these FAQs, find some of the most common questions about obtaining Social Security disability in New Mexico. Here, our knowledgeable legal team shares their thoughts and perspectives—whether you’re just getting started or you need help later in the process.
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  • What's the Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation Process?

    When you must file a claim for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), it's helpful to understand how the claims process works and the rules that apply to these cases. Knowing how the Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates a person’s medical condition or illness to determine disability helps predict what might happen with your claim.

    We explain the Social Security Sequential Evaluation Process that's used to evaluate whether or not you're entitled to benefits.

    Questions Asked in the Social Security Disability Sequential Evaluation

    In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, your medical condition must meet the requirements of a disability. It's defined as the inability to engage in any gainful activity due to a medically-determinable physical or mental impairment which is expected to last for at least 12 months or results in death.

    The Social Security Sequential Evaluation is a series of five steps in the process used to determine whether you're disabled. At each stage, the SSA worker assigned to your claim asks questions pertaining to eligibility.

    Here are the questions in the process:

    • Step 1. Are you working above the SGA level? SGA stands for Substantial Gainful Activity, which is working at a job. For example, in 2017, the SGA level income amount is $1,170 per month.
    • Step 2. Is your physical or mental condition severe? Your medical condition or illness must be severe enough to meet the definition of a disability, as discussed above. To be severe, the condition must interfere with basic work-related activities.
    • Step 3. Does your medical condition meet or equal the severity of the Listing of Impairment? The SSA lists many medical conditions and illnesses in its Listings of Impairments, which is also known as the Blue Book. If you can prove your condition is included in the Listing or is substantially as severe, you can establish a disability.
    • Step 4. Can you perform any of your past relevant work? If the answer is no due to your condition, it furthers your claim.
    • Step 5. Can you make an adjustment to any other work? The SSA has the burden of proving that work, other than what you performed in the past, exists in sufficient number; and that you can adjust to another form of employment given your age, educational level, work experience, and impairment.

    Do you have questions about filing your application for SSDI benefits? Has your claim been denied? Our experienced Social Security disability lawyers are here to help you prove that you are disabled under Social Security Administration laws. We have more than two decades of experience guiding our clients through the process of obtaining the SSDI benefits they deserved. To discuss your situation and rights to benefits, call our office or fill out our online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.


  • Who's eligible for Social Security Disability benefits?

    If you're disabled and unable to work, this doesn't automatically mean that you qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI), or that you won't have to fight for the benefits you deserve. Your eligibility for disability income depends on both your work history and disability. Here, we discuss basic eligibility requirements that you need to meet.

    What Are the Work History Eligibility Requirements for SSDI?

    To meet the work eligibility requirements to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked long enough and recently enough to qualify. Eligibility is based on the number of work credits you have earned. For each quarter of work with income of a certain amount, you can earn one work credit.

    The amount of work needed changes, but for example, in 2017, if you earn $1,700 per quarter or more in the year, you would earn four credits for the year.

    How many credits you will need to qualify for benefits will depend on your age. These general rules apply:

    • Generally, you must have earned 40 work credits with 20 of them having been earned in the last 10 years.
    • If you're younger than 31 years old, you may qualify for SSDI benefits with fewer work credits.

    Disability Requirements for Social Security Disability Benefits

    social security disability eligibilityYou must also be considered disabled to be eligible for SSDI benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines disability by the following requirements:

    • You can no longer perform your former job; and
    • You cannot perform other work due to your medical condition; and
    • Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year, or result in your death.

    The SSA maintains a Medically Approved Listing of Impairments. If your medical condition is on the list, you may automatically qualify for benefits. However, if your disability isn't on the list, this doesn't mean you're not entitled to SSDI benefits.

    If you don't qualify for SSDI benefits, you may be eligible for Supplement Security Income benefits (SSI). To be approved, you must be disabled and meet strict asset and income rules.

    Let Us Help You With Your Social Security Disability Claim

    Even if you clearly qualify for SSDI benefits, you shouldn't be surprised if your application for benefits is denied. Unfortunately, the SSA denies many legitimate claims. If you need help filling out your initial application for benefits or fighting for the benefits you deserve, our Roswell Social Security disability lawyers are here to help. Call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.