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Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits


Episode 37: Attorney Jeff Roberts handles social security disability insurance claims (SSDI), Kentucky workers’ compensation claims and personal injury claims.  Today’s episode will focus on SSDI and the various considerations regarding whether a person receives SSDI benefits.

The Insured Status Requirement

Jeff began practicing in 1992.  Social security disability claims have been a significant part of his practice, from the beginning.  SSDI is a program from the Social Security Administration and it’s for people who have been working.  Another program is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is also handled by the Social Security Administration, but this one doesn’t have a work-requirement.  If you qualify for disability under one of the programs, you will meet the disability requirement for both programs.

For social security disability insurance cases, you must meet the Insured Status Requirements.  This means you’ve worked enough and contributed enough (usually through your FICA contributions) to receive SSDI benefits, if you’ve been disabled.  SSDI is basically an insurance policy. 

qualifying for social security disability benefits

However, like an insurance policy, if you have stopped working there is a defined period (generally 5 years) before you are no longer eligible to receive the disability payments under SSDI.  Note, this is different from a potential SSI benefit and different from the retirement payments you may receive.  We are strictly addressing social security disability insurance benefit payments. 

Problems can occur if you have a sporadic work history or have been working for cash (and not reporting paying taxes on that income).  The social security system may decide you haven’t worked enough to qualify for SSDI benefits.  Jeff explains this issue can also arise if a husband and wife are working on the family farm, but only one spouse is reporting the income.  The other spouse may not have a record of having paid FICA, which could mean the spouse doesn’t meet the insured status requirements for SSDI.

Can You File for SSDI and Workers’ Compensation?

Yes.  You may qualify for benefits under SSDI and the Kentucky workers’ compensation system.  If you’ve suffered a work-related injury, you typically qualify for workers’ comp benefits.  Depending upon the extent of your injuries, you may also be able to receive SSDI benefits.  However, it’s important to understand that the wording of your claims can impact the amounts you receive, because there is an off-set consideration. 

Can You File for SSDI and a Personal Injury Claim?

Yes.  It’s possible you may qualify for SSDI benefits, in addition to the settlement you may receive in a car wreck case (or other type of injury claim).  Automobile accident claims are often the cause of disability claims. 

Is some specific cases, Jeff Roberts is able to file a social security claim, a Kentucky workers’ compensation claim and a personal injury claim, all stemming from the same accident.  The Roberts Law Office can handle all 3 types of claims for you.  Many injury law firms handle car wreck claims, but might not handle either the workers’ comp or SSDI claim. 

Qualifying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Jeff explains that there are a couple of ways that an individual may qualify for SSDI benefits.  The first is by meeting the Listings of Impairment.  This is defined by the Social Security Administration and is a set of specific regulations discussing medical conditions and complications.  If you meet them, you may automatically qualify for SSDI benefits.

These conditions and complications include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Kidney disease and on dialysis
  • Certain types of cancer that are not treatable

The other way you qualify for SSDI involves your education and work history.  If you’ve been injured, depending upon your educational background, the type of work you’ve done and your age, it may be easier to qualify for SSDI benefits. 

For instance, if you have a high school education (or less), it may be easier for you to qualify for benefits, because the job market may be more limited.  Likewise, if you’re older it may be more difficult for you to take on a new type of job, verses if you’re younger (age 18-49).

Obviously, an important factor involves your physical (and mental) capabilities, after recovering from the injury?  The nature of your injuries may limit, or eliminate, your ability to perform work.  This referred to as your “residual, functional capacity.”

The Doctor Said I’m Disabled

Jeff discusses how some people are confused as to why they were denied benefits, even when the doctor says he/she is disabled.  In reality, the judge handling the claim needs to see specific information to rule in your favor.  While the opinion of a physician is important, there are still certain factors the judge uses to evaluate your case, as we’ve already mentioned.

Jeff Roberts has almost 30 years of experience handling Social Security Disability claims.  He uses this experience to ensure the specific documentation is included in the medical documentation.  This documentation will combine with the specific legal arguments he’ll make on the behalf of his client.  Having a thorough understanding of the legal definitions and how they are applied plays a critical role in the success of the SSDI claim.

Jeff goes on to explain that the determination of disability is ultimately the responsibility of the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, not the physician.  This a vocational determination; not simply a medical determination.  This is a key consideration in qualifying for social security disability benefits.

Can Jeff Roberts Handle My Claim if I Live Outside of Calloway County?

Yes.  Jeff has a regional practice.  However, in terms of Social Security Disability claims, these are federal programs.  He is licensed to handle social security cases in all 50 states.  He’s handled social security cases in Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Oklahoma, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Alabama and others.  If you are interested in qualifying for social security disability benefits, the Roberts Law Office in Murray, KY is ready to speak with you.

We hope you found this episode insightful and helpful.  Thank you for listening!

Is It Time to Speak with an Attorney about Your Social Security Disability Claim?

The office phone number is (270) 753-0053.  For more information, visit This podcast is meant to provide information and is not legal advice.  Jeff’s principal office is located at 509 Main Street, Murray, Kentucky.  Co-host Jim Ray is a non-attorney spokesperson.  This is an advertisement.