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Understanding how Social Security Disability works

If you are a Missouri resident who suffers from a severe impairment – physical, mental, or a combination thereof – that prevents you from working, you may be able to receive Social Security Disability payments. You must, however, meet strict eligibility requirements.

To begin with, while you need not have an outright disability as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act, your impairment must be such that you are “unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months.”

Additional eligibility requirements

Also, your impairment or combination of impairments must be of such severity that not only can you not perform your previous job duties, but also cannot, perform any other kind of substantial gainful work. But notice the word “substantial.” Your impairment need not prevent you from working at all, only from working for substantial gain. The Social Security Administration sets a limit on the amount you can earn each month and still remain eligible for SSDI. The 2017 amounts were $1,170 per month for a non-blind person and $1,950 per month for a blind person.

Finally, at some time in the past you must have worked in a job that required you and your employer to contribute to Social Security.

Qualifying impairments

The Social Security Administration lists numerous disabilities, illnesses and conditions for which you can receive SSDI payments, including the following:

  • Spinal cord injuries and musculoskeletal conditions
  • Mental illnesses
  • Cancer, respiratory diseases, diabetes, infectious diseases
  • Nervous system conditions
  • Circulatory system conditions
  • Blindness

Waiting period

You can expect to wait at least five months from the time you apply for SSDI until the time you begin receiving monthly checks. You can also expect the SSA to thoroughly review your medical records and work history before deeming you eligible.