Even if you have a qualifying disability as listed in the Listing of Impairments – Adult Listings, published by the Social Security Administration (SSA), you may not be able to receive Social Security disability benefits if your disability will not last long enough to qualify.
How Long Does a Disability Have to Last?
In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your disability must have lasted, or be expected to last for, at least 12 months or result in death. The 12 months must be a continuous period, which means that if there were any times during the past year that your condition was not disabling, the time on the 12-month requirement clock was reset.
How to Prove the Duration of a Disability
The Social Security Administration recognizes that waiting an entire year to receive benefits can be far too long for some people; you may need the benefits as soon as possible to help you start supporting yourself. Which is why you can submit evidence that proves that your disability is expected to last for at least 12 months, if not longer, even if fewer than 12 months have elapsed up until that point. In order to prove that your disability is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death, you will need solid medical evidence from an expert (a certified doctor or specialist) that explicitly states this.
What If the Social Security Administration Disagrees?
Disability Determination Services (DDS), a division within the Social Security Administration, is responsible for making a determination about a claim. The DDS agent assigned to your claim for Social Security disability benefits will evaluate your medical records to determine if you are disabled, and what the extent of that disability is. If the Social Security Administration needs additional information, they may request that you attend a consultative exam, which is an exam with a doctor whose services are paid for by Disability Determination Services. If your claim is denied, you can request a claim reconsideration. If your claim is still not approved, you can request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Why the 12-month Requirement?
The 12-month requirement is part of the definition of what it means to be disabled. In addition to lasting 12 months or resulting in death, a disability must also prevent a person from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. The Social Security Administration wants to ensure that a person who is seeking benefits is truly disabled and cannot work, and will not be able to work in the immediate future. If a person is only disabled for a few months, the Social Security Administration assumes that at the conclusion of this brief period, they will be able to resume working.
The 12-month requirement is strict; there are no exceptions to it. It is essential that when you initially apply for benefits, you make sure that your claim includes medical evidence that proves that your disability has lasted or will last for at least 12 months. If not, your claim will likely be denied, or delayed at the very least. If you need assistance with your claim, it’s in your best interests to contact an Illinois Social Security disability lawyer for immediate help.