Becoming disabled and losing the ability to provide for a family must be one of the worst situations in which a Florida person can find him or herself. While most people are aware of the availability of Social Security Disability benefits, many are unfamiliar with the requirements to be eligible for this assistance. Different criteria must be met in order to qualify.

The first aspect to consider is the level of disability. Benefits are only paid to those who are entirely disabled. The disability cannot be partial, nor can it be temporary. With that in mind, the level of disability will be measured based on the individual’s ability — or inability — to work and earn an income. Even if the person cannot do the job he or she did before, but can adjust to another type of employment, the applicant will not be regarded as totally disabled.

Furthermore, the disability must have lasted — or be expected to last — at least 12 months or be expected to lead to death. The length of time that a person spent working before becoming disabled will also play a role. There are rules related to the number of years worked, and also how recently the applicant was still employed. This is based on work credits earned over time, and the details are quite complicated.

Any Florida resident who is in the unfortunate position of suffering a medical condition that renders him or her disabled will likely have many questions about the work credit system and the availability of Social Security Disability benefits in his or her circumstances. The most appropriate step might be to consult with an attorney who is experienced in dealing with Social Security laws. A lawyer can assess the person’s circumstances and answer all the questions while evaluating potential eligibility for benefits.

Source: ssa.gov, “Disability Planner: What We Mean By Disability“, Accessed on Sept. 1, 2017