How to Qualify for Social Security Disability

Doug Mann

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Table of Contents
  1. Who Qualifies For Disability In Ohio?
  2. Ohio Disability Benefits
  3. Social Security Disability: Ohio Eligibility
  4. How To Get Disability In Ohio
  5. Appealing a Denial of Benefits
  6. Do you Need an Attorney?
  7. Social Security Disability Contact Information

If you suffer an injury or illness that leaves you disabled and unable to work, you may be entitled to benefits from the Social Security program. Those benefits are designed to make sure you and your family are provided for when you can’t work. So, who can get benefits? Read on to learn how to get disability in Ohio.

Who Qualifies For Disability In Ohio?

According to the Social Security Administration, more than 10 million Americans received Social Security disability benefits in 2013, the most recent year for which data are available.

Disabled workers make up almost 90% of SSD cases. The balance is made up of disabled adult children and disabled widows and widowers. About 5.4% of the population of Ohio receives Social Security disability benefits.

However, it’s much more common for middle-aged people to qualify for disability benefits than young or elderly people – about 50% of benefits go to people between the ages of 55 and 64. The most common reason workers claim disability benefits is an injury to the musculoskeletal system or connective tissue – that accounts for more than 60% of the claims by men and almost 60% of claims by women.

Ohio Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability benefits are available for people who are disabled such that they can’t work for at least a year and for people whose disabilities are expected to be fatal. The amount of benefits you receive will depend on the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) and your income. The CPI is a measure of the cost of living for an average person in the US. For example, the 2020 benefits are $783 for an individual and $1,175 for a couple. If you earn some income, the amount of your benefits will be lower.

The state of Ohio also offers supplemental benefits to people with disabilities. The amount of supplement benefits you receive in Ohio depends on your living situation. For example, those living at home, in a community alternative home, or in an adult residential care facility, may receive supplemental benefits of up to about $783 for a single person and $1,175 for a couple.

Note that if you are receiving other payments, such as Worker’s Compensation payments or other benefits, you may receive lower federal and Ohio disability benefits.

Social Security Disability: Ohio Eligibility

In order to be eligible for benefits, you must meet two main requirements. First, you have to have worked for long enough in recent years to qualify. Second, the Ohio Division of Disability Determination must determine that you are disabled according to the legal guidelines.

The Work Test

The work test has two parts. First, you must prove that you’ve worked recently enough to qualify for benefits. This is called the “recent work test.” The guidelines depend on the age at which you became disabled. If you were disabled before you turned 24, you must have worked for at least 1.5 of the 3 years before you became disabled. If you’re disabled between the ages of 24 and 31, you must have worked for half of the time between when you turned 21 and when you were disabled. In other words, if you became disabled at the age of 29, you’d have to have worked for at least 4 years; that’s half of the time between when you turned 21 and when you were disabled. If you become disabled after the age of 31, you must have worked for at least 5 out of the 10 years before your disability started. If you’re disabled at the age of 55 but haven’t worked since you were 30, you don’t qualify.

If you have been employed recently enough to satisfy the first part of the test, you’ll need to show that you’ve worked enough over your entire life to qualify. This is called the “duration of work test.” For this part of the test, it doesn’t matter when you worked. You just have to have enough total time employed to satisfy the requirements. The requirements for work duration depend on your age. Below is a partial list of the requirements:

  • Disabled at 28: 1.5 years of work
  • Disabled at 30: 2 years of work
  • Disabled at 34: 3 years of work
  • Disabled at 38: 4 years of work
  • Disabled at 42: 5 years of work
  • Disabled at 44: 5.5 years of work
  • Disabled at 46: 6 years of work
  • Disabled at 48: 6.5 years of work
  • Disabled at 50: 7 years of work
  • Disabled at 52: 7.5 years of work
  • Disabled at 54: 8 years of work
  • Disabled at 56: 8.5 years of work
  • Disabled at 58: 9 years of work
  • Disabled at 60: 9.5 years of work

If you satisfy the recent work and duration of work tests, the Social Security Administration will forward your case along to the Ohio Division of Disability Determination.

The Disability Test

In order to determine whether you are legally disabled, the Ohio Division of Disability Determination will look at your medical history and all the records pertaining to the injury or illness that has left you disabled. They may require you to submit to a special examination; they’ll pay for that testing and for some of your travel costs to get to the appointment. Then, they’ll use 5 questions to determine if you meet the legal requirements for disability.

1. Are you working?

People who are working and earning a certain amount of income typically do not qualify for disability benefits. That amount changes annually. In 2014, for those under retirement age, the cutoff was $15,480 For those at retirement age, it was $41,400. Those over retirement age do not have an income cap. If you earn more than those amounts in a year, your benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $2 you earn over the limit. For those who are in the year of their retirement, benefits will be reduced by $1 for every $3 over the limit.

So, if you earn more than $16,946 (for a single person) and you’re under retirement age, you won’t qualify. If you earn more than $43,599 (for a single person) in the year of your retirement, you won’t qualify. Everyone over retirement age will pass this part of the test.

2. How severe is your medical condition?

In order to be considered a disability, your condition must prevent you from doing normal working activities for at least a year. For example, you must be prevented from walking or remembering basic information. If you can do basic tasks, your condition may not be severe enough to merit benefits. If it is severe enough, you’ll go on to the next question.

3. Is your condition on the List of Impairments?

The state maintains a List of Impairments. This list covers disabilities that automatically qualify for benefits. If your condition is not on the list, the Division of Disability Determination will compare your disability to conditions on the list to decide if it’s equally severe. If it’s not, you may not qualify. If it is, you’ll go on to the next question.

4. Can you do your old job?

If you can still do your old job, you won’t qualify as disabled. If you can’t do your old job, you’ll go on to the next question.

5. Can you do any other kind of work?

You may not be able to work as a fireman, but you may be able to do other types of work. The Division of  Disability Determination will consider your work history, education, age, and other factors to determine whether you’re capable of doing a different job. If you are, you won’t qualify for benefits. If you can’t do any other work, you do qualify.

If you pass all of these tests, you qualify for federal disability benefits. The Division of Disability Determination will examine your living situation and your needs to determine whether it will award you any state supplemental benefits.

How To Get Disability In Ohio

You can apply for benefits online at the Social Security Administration website. You can also call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213 to make an appointment at the local office to apply. In order to apply, you’ll need the following:

  • Social Security Number
  • Birth Certificate (or baptismal certificate)
  • Contact information including names, addresses, and phone numbers for all doctors, nurses, caretakers, hospitals, and clinics involved in your treatment
  • Dates of all doctor’s visits and medical procedures
  • Medical records pertaining to the disability
  • Any lab or test results
  • Information on previous places of employment and positions held
  • Most recent W-2 form or, if you’re self-employed, most recent federal tax return

Once you’ve applied, it can take anywhere from 3-5 months to process your application. Unfortunately, only about ⅓ of applications in Ohio are approved on the first try. If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision.

Appealing a Denial of Benefits

The first step after your benefits are denied is to file a “Request for Reconsideration.” Another 12% of applicants are approved after filing that form and having their cases looked at again. If you’re denied again, you can request a hearing in front of a judge. The success rates in front of a judge are much better; over 60% of applicants receive approval from the judge after an in-person hearing. However, it takes a long time to get an in-person hearing. Wait times in Ohio are in excess of 14 months.

Do you Need an Attorney?

The process of applying for benefits can be complicated and confusing. An attorney can help you navigate the paperwork and present the best possible case to the Social Security Administration and the Division for Determination of Disability. An attorney also gives you an even better chance of being approved for benefits on appeal. If you need to file for Social Security disability benefits, contact one of our experienced attorneys for a free consultation to learn how we can help you through the process.

Social Security Disability Contact Information

If you want more information on disability benefits or other Social Security programs, you can find it on the Social Security Administration’s website, here, or you can call the SSA toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. You can find their nearest office using their field office locator.

What Questions Will the SSA Ask?

Are you working?
How severe is your medical condition?
Is your condition on the List of Impairments?
Can you do your old job?
Can you do any other kind of work?

What Do You Need to Apply for Diability?

Social Security Number
Birth Certificate (or baptismal certificate)
Contact information including names, addresses, and phone numbers for all doctors, nurses, caretakers, hospitals, and clinics involved in your treatment
Dates of all doctor’s visits and medical procedures
Medical records pertaining to the disability
Any lab or test results
Information on previous places of employment and positions held
Most recent W-2 form or, if you’re self-employed, most recent federal tax return

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