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Qualify for Social Security Disability benefits

Given the frequency of the rhetoric thrown around about how Social Security funds are being drained, many in Los Angeles may believe to currently be easy to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The fact that the Social Security Administration itself confirms that 10.1 million people received such benefits in 2017 alone seems to support this assumption. Yet in reality, the SSA has established very strict requirements for SSD qualification in order to prevent abuse. 

Most may think that a simple diagnosis of a debilitating condition from a doctor may be enough to justify federal benefits, yet even confirmation that one has a disabling condition right now does not necessarily mean that it's effects will not abate and allow whoever is suffering from them to be able to return to work in the future. If one's disability is not projected to be long-term, there may be other benefit programs that they can turn to for a few months of financial assistance. 

The question then becomes what does the SSA consider to be "long-term?" Typically, one calendar year is sufficient. Take the SSA's evaluation criteria for a general musculoskeletal injury: it states that one must be unable to ambulate effectively on a consistent basis (as well as have a clinical endorsement projecting that the condition causing such limitations is expected to last for at least 12 months) in order to qualify for SSD benefits. For the purposes of this regulation "ambulate" is defined as being able to walk. 

It should also be remembered that in many cases, SSD benefits are not meant to be permanent. Those receiving them are frequently re-evaluated to see if such assistance is still needed. Interestingly, the same data reporting the number of benefit recipients also showed that over 859,000 disabled workers stopped receiving them last year, as well. 

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Disability Rights Law Center
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