Social Security Disability in the Time of COVID-19

-The Sasser Law Firm

Some economists are reporting that over twenty million Americans lost their jobs in the month of April alone as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these Americans may be wondering whether they qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The answer is: maybe.

First and foremost, Social Security disability benefits are monetary payments for which you become entitled when, as a result of your medical impairments, you are no longer capable of working a full-time job for 12 months in a row. If the only thing keeping you from working a full-time job is a shut-down order or a lay-off due to COVID-19, then you are probably not entitled to Social Security disability benefits and you should instead apply for your state's unemployment benefits. If you're actually sick from the virus, then whether you'd be eligible for disability under Social Security regulations depends on whether you're expected to be out of work for at least 12 months because of your illness.

It may be smart for some people in the following circumstances, however, to apply for Social Security disability benefits anyway. For instance, if prior to losing your job due to COVID-19, you were only capable of working on a part-time basis due to your medical impairments, you may now qualify for Social Security disability benefits if those impairments and/or new ones are likely to keep you from working full time over the next 12 months.

Another example: if the only reason you were able to work full-time at your last job was because your employer provided you with certain accommodations that allowed you to work despite your medical impairments, then you may still be entitled to Social Security disability benefits if you're now out of work and unable to find a job with those same accommodations.

Finally, if you were recently working full-time, but recently turned 50 or 55 years old, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. That's because the Social Security Administration begins using a more favorable set of rules for figuring out whether you are disabled once you turn 50 years old, and again when you turn 55.

To summarize, even if you lost your job due to a COVID-19 lay-off or business shutdown, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if: (1) you were working only part-time before COVID-19 because of your already-existing medical impairments; or (2) you were only able to work full time due to employer-provided accommodations for your medical impairments; or (3) you recently turned either 50 or 55 years old; or (4) your present medical impairments are expected to keep you from returning to work for 12 consecutive months, regardless of a COVID-19 lay-off or shutdown.

For more information, please call attorney Evan Metaxatos at The Sasser Law Firm at (704) 342-4200.

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