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5 things you should know about applying for disability benefits

Social Security Disability benefits sound simple enough. If you can't work, they help cover the costs. In an ideal world, you can eventually get back in the workforce, but they're there for you when you'll be out for a significant amount of time.

The reality, though, is that getting benefits is usually very difficult and complex. You must do your homework. Below are five things you should know as you start the process.

  1. All work has to be impeded. You can't work at all due to severe injuries. It's not enough for you just to be uncomfortable at work. It has to be bad enough that you're out of the workforce.
  2. You'll probably get denied at first. Two out of every three applicants do. That doesn't mean there's no hope -- a lot of people are rejected for paperwork errors that can be corrected -- but it's important to know how this tends to play out.
  3. You must be facing at least 12 months of impairment. Again, these are serious injuries. In the worst-case situation, you expect the disability to eventually lead to your own death.
  4. It has to be so bad that you can't just get a different job or find a different role within the company. The Social Security Administration (SSA) wants to know that you can't work at all. Period.
  5. You must have worked for a specific amount of time. The "duration of work" test varies by age. For instance, if you're 46 years old, you need six years of work. If you're 58 years old, you need nine years.

By no means does this list include all of the factors that the SSA will consider, but it's a good place to begin. Be sure you really know your legal rights and how to give yourself the best chance of success.

Source: The Motley Fool, "Social Security Disability Requirements: 5 Things You Need to Know," Dayana Yochim, accessed Oct. 20, 2017

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