Many people become disabled before reaching retirement age and are unable to work. If this has happened to you, you may be able to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Before you can apply for benefits, you must make sure you meet the earnings requirement. Generally, this means you must have worked a certain number of years based on the age when you become disabled. For example, if you are 46-years-old, you must have worked for approximately six years to qualify.

Once you have determined that you do qualify for disability benefits, you can apply for benefits online or set up an appointment for a disability claim interview. You will need to provide information regarding your medical condition, hospital records, test results, a W-2 form from your employer and a detailed description of your job. It may be very beneficial for you to have an attorney represent you throughout the process to give you the best chance at recovering benefits.

Once you have provided all the necessary documentation and information, the Social Security Administration will make a decision regarding your claim. The decision will be based on multiple factors, including the amount of time worked, the severity of your medical condition and how the condition affects your ability to work. In many cases, your condition may be severe enough to be listed in the SSA’s Blue Book and automatically be considered a qualifying disability. If your condition is not listed in the Book, the agency will evaluate whether your impairments prevent you from doing your past job.

If you are not satisfied with the SSA’s decision, you may decide to file an appeal. Both the applications and appeals process can be complicated, so an attorney can be extremely helpful.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Benefits,” accessed on Sept. 18, 2017