If you need Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must meet certain eligibility requirements.
You must have paid Social Security taxes through your employer and must be unable to work because of a physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
Impairments and benefit denial
Your eligibility for benefits will depend on your individual circumstances, however there are examples of impairments that may qualify for SSDI. These include back injuries, joint problems, amputations and heart failure or chronic heart disease.
You may qualify if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, also known as COPD, neurological disorders, certain mental health conditions, cancer and immune system issues.
If you apply for SSDI and your claim is denied, you can request a reconsideration by a different examiner. If your reconsideration is denied, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) may hear your case.
ALJ and hearing process
An ALJ is an impartial decision-maker, meaning they are tasked with evaluating cases fairly and without bias. They operate independently from the Social Security Administration.
Before you attend the ALJ hearing, it’s important to gather all medical records, documents or other evidence to support your claim. At the hearing, the ALJ will review your case and you may be allowed to present witnesses or experts.
The ALJ will issue a written decision that is based on the facts, legal conclusions and the reasoning behind your eligibility for benefits.
If the ALJ denies the benefits, you may have additional appeal options available.