Why Your Neighbor's Sister's Son Is Getting 'Disability' And You're Not

By Barbara J. Artuso, Esq.

If it seems to you that the Social Security Administration's process for determining who is disabled is unpredictable and complicated, you're correct. Sometimes a client, stung by initial denial of a claim, protests that "my neighbor's sister's son is getting disability benefits, and he's in really good shape compared to me." And that may be a true statement!

There are many factors that affect the decision of whether someone is disabled for purposes of receiving Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, such as:

(a) Financial eligibility - The federal government administers two disability programs. Work history, income and resources affect financial eligibility for each of them. You must establish financial eligibility for one of the two programs before your medical condition is even considered. Individuals with no work history may still be eligible for SSI benefits, while some people who are very ill may not be financially eligible for either program.

(b) Age and education - The system for awarding disability benefits is structured so that the older a person is, the easier it is for him or her to receive disability benefits. On the other hand, people with more education are often less likely to receive disability benefits.

(c) Work history - A person's past work history has an enormous effect on the process of determining whether he or she is entitled to disability benefits. A history of working at a skilled job, or at one that was not very physically demanding, can prevent even someone with significant limitations from collecting disability benefits.

Keep in mind when thinking about your neighbor's sister's son that you may not be seeing the full picture, including details of all of the factors listed above. Many of those factors, especially education and work history, are difficult to see but may have a significant impact on the decision in your neighbor's sister's son's case. Furthermore, there are many limitations that cannot be seen, such as heart disease, lung disease or mental illness.

For all of these reasons, it's best not to make assumptions about who is entitled to Social Security Disability or SSI benefits. If you would like to discuss whether you might be eligible, please contact a Pennsylvania Social Security Disability benefits Lawyer via email or phone us at 724-837-0080 in Greensburg or toll free at 888-534-6016 and we will review your individual circumstances with you in detail.

For more information on Social Security, please visit our expansive Social Security Information Center or our Social Security Frequently Asked Questions.

Related articles about Social Security Disability and long-term disability:

What's the Connection between Social Security Disability and Private Disability Insurance?

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