How to file for disability, Filing for SSI
Disability Requirements, Disability Status
How long is the wait?, Disability Application
The Social Security List of Impairments
Qualifying for Disability, Mental Disability
Disability Lawyer Info, Disability Back Pay

Applying for disability with a cervical spine discectomy and fusion

I have been off work since October 21 2014 for cervical spine discectomy and fusion and I am receiving short term disability from my workplace, but I do not expect to be able to return to work since the surgery did not repair my problem.

Providing I am off the amount of time required by Disibilty Law, If I apply now will I have to terminate my employment before being approved? Thank You.

You can apply for disability at anytime after you stop working, or when your work provides income that is under the SGA limit.

According to the SSA definition of disability, you can work and file for disability, or even work and receive disability as long as their earnings are under the SGA limit. So, you see, it is about whether you are employed or unemployed. It is about whether your condition prevents you from working and earning at least a "substantial and gainful" amount.

Note: people sometimes mistakenly believe that they have to wait until they have been away from a job for one year before applying, but this is not the case. Social Security will evaluate a person's medical evidence to determine, or project, whether a person's condition will meet the duration requirement of one year as specified by the SSA disability definition. By the same token, however, SSA may also look at a claimant's records and determine that the condition will improve to less than disabling in that time and thus issue what is known as a durational denial.

If your impairment is not going to last that long (at least one full year), there would be no sense in filing for disability since there is a five month waiting period for which you are not paid benefits (it begins the month after the month you stopped working unless you stopped on the first of the month). The five month waiting period is similar to an elimination period for a private insurance plan. Essentially, it simply means that your first five months of benefits will be withheld by the Social Security Administration.

As was stated, you do not have to terminate your employment at anytime during the disability process; the rules just requires that you are not working and earning at least the SGA amount that we mentioned and which is linked above.

In most instances, cases are initially denied and because of this the Social Security Disability process may last months or even years if you have to use the Social Security Disability appeal process.

Additionally, it is not a sure thing that you will be approved even if you go through the entire process to an administrative law judge disability hearing (although the odds do favor claimants who go as far as the hearing level). You could still be denied and have to begin the process again if you are still not working. Also, please keep in mind the fact that Social Security Disability requires that you not only be disabled from performing your past work but that your limitations prevent you from doing any other job that you might otherwise be suited for.

I hope this answers your question and that your have the information you need to make your decision. Good luck.

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Social Security Disability and Pain symptoms
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What is a Social Security Disability SSI Durational Denial?
If I Apply For Disability And Go Back To Work, Do I Need To Report This?
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These pages provide answers to basic questions about pursuing disability benefits

Receiving a Social Security Disability Award Letter
What Can I Do to Improve My Chances of Winning Disability Benefits?
How do you find out if a Social Security Disability claim has been approved or even denied?
Can I Qualify For Disability and Receive Benefits based on Depression?
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How does the Social Security Disability Review work?
What is the difference between Social Security Disability and SSI?
More differences between Social Security Disability and SSI

For the sake of clarity, SSDRC.com is not the Social Security Administration, nor is it associated or affiliated with SSA. This site is a personal, private website that is published, edited, and maintained by former caseworker and former disability claims examiner, Tim Moore, who was interviewed by the New York Times on the topic of Social Security Disability and SSI benefits in an article entitled "The Disability Mess" and also by the Los Angeles Times on the subject of political attempts to weaken the Social Security Disability system.

The goal of the site is to provide information about how Social Security Disability and SSI work, the idea being that qualified information may help claimants pursue their claims and appeals, potentially avoiding time-consuming mistakes. If you find the information on this site helpful and believe it would be helpful to others, feel free to share links to its homepage or other pages on website resource pages, blogs, or social media. Copying of this material, however, is prohibited.

To learn more about the author, please visit the SSDRC.com homepage and view the "about this site" link near the bottom of the page.