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Three questions in the quest for SSD benefits

In almost every claim for Social Security Disability benefits, there are three questions involved. The Social Security Administration asks the first two, namely: 1) Does the applicant have a qualifying disability?, and 2) Has the applicant participated in the Social Security program for the requisite amount of time? The applicant asks the third question: 3) How much will my monthly SSD benefits check be?

If an applicant doesn't get past the first two questions, the third question becomes irrelevant. And, as any of our Los Angeles readers who are familiar with previous posts here know, the majority of applicants are denied Social Security Disability benefits. The reason? The first two questions in this three-question application structure have some very stringent requirements that must be met.

For starters, the disability in question must be serious enough that the applicant can no longer work. Further, the disability must be expected to keep the applicant from working for at least a one year time period - or the disability must be expected to result in death. As our readers have probably guessed, not every injury or illness will fall into one of these categories.

The time of participation requirement is based on a somewhat complex equation, but the gist of this requirement is that the applicant must have been participating in the Social Security program for a substantial portion of the time they were eligible to work prior to the disability. If these first two steps are completed successfully, the applicant will usually be granted SSD benefits. The answer to the third question, what the amount of the benefits will be, is different for everyone. But, in 2014, the average amount is $1,148.00.

Source: Aiken Standard, "ON THE MONEY: Social Security disability benefits," Greg Roberts, July 20, 2014

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