Social Security Disability Insurance was created to aid those who are unable to work to support themselves and their families due to disability. Every income-earning US citizen contributes to the program through taxes, and it’s seen as a safeguard organized by the government to support citizens who meet tragic and unforeseeable circumstances. 

Most developed countries have a similar program or way of supporting disabled citizens; however, the US’s Social Security disability program has extremely harsh rules for qualifying. With fewer than 4 out of 10 applicants being approved for benefits, the program’s eligibility criteria are claimed to be “among the strictest in the world.”

The Strictest System Worldwide

The Social Security program in the US uses an extremely strict definition when it comes to disabilities, and it has the shortest duration for claimants to receive benefits. One analysis completed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US has the least generous system for disability benefits of all OECD member countries except Korea.

And the Trump administration has recently proposed even more cuts to the program, from calling for a new disability revision program in November that would require claimants to have their cases reviewed more frequently to his 2021 fiscal plan reducing Social Security disability funds.

Such cuts could make an already tight system impossible for many. Applicants are required to have an impairment so severe that it can affect their ability to perform any substantial work, and the impairment also needs to be expected to result in death or last at least a year to qualify.

These standards ensure that those who have severe medical conditions find getting their Social Security benefits very difficult, especially as more than 80% of applications are denied at first. Applicants have the right to appeal, but appeals don’t always get accepted, which means that the process for Social Security hearings must be applied, resulting in a long wait for claimants who may desperately need benefits. Applicants often find it extremely difficult to successfully claim benefits without the help of a Social Security disability lawyer.

Eligibility Standards

Social Security disability requirements must be proven in order for applicants to receive Social Security benefits. Workers who become disabled or sick must be suffering enough that they can no longer support themselves. The SSA regulations state that eligible claimants must be unable to engage in work that earns more than $1,200 per month, meaning claimants must be unable to perform any job that could earn $300 a week.

Workers have to have earned money for a certain length of time to be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, although Supplemental Security Income is available for individuals with disabilities who have never worked or haven’t worked long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. 

You may be eligible if you have worked for most of your life before becoming seriously injured or disabled, but it still may take up to two years of paperwork and applications to get a rejection, for which a hearing can then be requested. The strict and onerous process of proving disability can place a lot of stress on vulnerable adults and even children. 

The standards to prove disability and receive benefits can feel hard enough to meet, and when so many claims are turned down, it can be very disheartening for those who need help the most.