Important: We updated this article in December 2022 to include the latest income limits from the Social Security Administration. So, you filled out LegalASAP’s online evaluation form to see if you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. However, your SSD case does not qualify for legal assistance based on the answers you gave LegalASAP during your evaluation. Below are eight reasons why some people don’t qualify for help filing a claim for Social Security disability benefits.
Reason #1: You Haven’t Worked Recently or Enough Years to Earn 40 Social Security Work Credits
Social Security disability is a federal insurance program that covers most people who work full-time jobs in the United States. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), 89% of women and 94% of men are fully insured for SSD benefits. This means you worked at least five out of the last 10 years full-time while paying Social Security payroll taxes. Once you stop working for more than five years (60 months), then your SSD insurance policy coverage automatically lapses.
Reason #2: You Don’t Expect to Be Out of Work for 12+ Months Because of Your Health Problems
The SSA doesn’t pay temporary or short-term disability benefits to anyone for any reason. In fact, no federal program pays disability benefits unless your health problems make you unable to work for one year. If you said “no” on this question during your evaluation, that’s why we said your SSD case may not qualify. No attorney will evaluate your SSD case for free unless your condition(s) prevent you from working more than 12 months.
Reason #3: You’re Still Working or Earn Too Much Money for Your SSD Case to Qualify
In hindsight, this reason might seem more obvious to you. However, if you’re still working when you apply for Social Security disability, then the SSA doesn’t see you as disabled. It’s possible your SSD case could qualify if you only work temporary jobs, or just part-time. But then, the SSA’s substantial gainful activity (SGA) rule also applies: Do you earn too much money? In 2023, you can’t earn more than $1,470/month. That’s not just true for your SSD case – it’s also true if you apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Learn how unearned income (like alimony and child support) can hurt your SSI claim.
Reason #4: Your Doctor Doesn’t Prescribe Medication or Regularly Treat Your Condition(s)
Unfortunately, a lot of people tell us they can’t afford to see a doctor or pay for their medicine. This is, sadly, a real issue that could make the SSA deny your SSD case outright. You see, you need to submit convincing medical evidence that supports your SSD case to get monthly disability benefits. If you don’t see a doctor and take no medication to treat your symptoms, they can’t evaluate your SSD case. The SSA has no evidence to prove your condition(s) or symptoms won’t improve if you received regular doctor’s treatments. You need to show proof you’ve done everything possible to control your symptoms but still cannot work for 12 months.
Reason #5: You Already Get Some Social Security Benefits Each Month
What does this even mean, and why would it make your SSD case ineligible for benefits? Well, think of SSD as an “early withdrawal” program for regular Social Security benefits you can draw once you retire. If you start drawing early retirement between 62 and 66, then your SSD case is automatically not eligible for benefits. That’s because you already elected to draw your regular Social Security, so the SSA reduces your payments for life. Once you start drawing regular Social Security, then your SSD case can’t qualify for benefits on the same work record.
This also applies to people who get SSI benefits each month. If you applied for SSI and currently get those payments, then that also means your SSD case did not qualify. Why? Because the SSA automatically evaluates every person who applies for disability benefits for both SSD as well as SSI payments. If your SSD case qualifies, then you won’t get SSI payments. And if you get SSI payments, then that means you’re not eligible for SSD benefits.
The only exception is people who get one benefit payment through a spouse or ex-spouse’s work record. This can happen if you receive Social Security from a deceased spouse, ex-spouse, or became disabled before your 22nd birthday. It’s rare – only about 4% of people have “dual entitlement” to both SSI and SSD benefits each month.
At any rate, receipt of any other monthly Social Security benefit will automatically disqualify your SSD case for disability payments.
Reason #6: You Already Have a Lawyer or Advocate Handling Your SSD Case
Unfortunately, this means that LegalASAP cannot match you with a local attorney to complete your SSD case evaluation. Even if you’re unhappy with your current attorney or advocate, you signed a retainer for that person’s legal assistance. Because you signed what’s basically an exclusive contract for that attorney or advocate’s services, legally, LegalASAP cannot break it. If you tell us someone else is already helping you with your SSD case, we must respect that agreement. For this reason, we cannot match you with another nearby attorney who can evaluate your SSD case free of charge.
Reason #7: There Are No Attorneys Near You Available to Review Your SSD Case
We hate to say it, but LegalASAP can’t always match you with local attorneys for a free SSD case review. Sometimes it’s because you live in a rural area where very few (if any) attorneys specialize in SSD case law. Or, maybe none are available because they have the maximum number of SSD clients that they can help right now. This last reason is basically the “it’s not you, it’s me” answer, and we at LegalASAP don’t like it, either. Since we honestly cannot help you get a free SSD case evaluation at this time, you have two options:
- Call the 1-800 number at the top of this page if you have additional claim questions. We can at least try to answer some of them for you!
- Call the SSA’s national, toll-free number: 1-800-772-1213 Monday through Friday, 7am to 7pm EST. Be warned, though, that it might take you a while to get through to an actual person when you call. That said, those agents can potentially start filing your SSD case directly over the phone. These SSA agents can also look up your SSN and answer some SSD case questions that apply specifically to you.
Ready to see if you may qualify? Complete your free online SSD benefits evaluation now!
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.