If you are considering pursuing Social Security disability (SSD) benefits after being diagnosed with a long-term or incurable impairment, one of our representatives can help you understand the different programs offered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Qualifying for SS disability in Atlanta requires you to satisfy a range of criteria established by SSA.

There are two main types of SSD benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). A skilled attorney from our firm can help you determine whether you qualify for either type of benefit. We can also provide the experienced representation you need after receiving a denial and work hard on your behalf to secure all benefits you may be entitled to through an appeal.

Eligibility for SSDI vs. SSI

The eligibility standards to receive SSDI benefits are generally more stringent than SSI benefits. While someone can be eligible to receive both types of benefits, SSI can be a viable option for someone whose disability does not fall under the SSDI umbrella.

An applicant for SSI must be blind, have a terminal illness or injury, or have a disease or injury that will prevent them from working for a minimum of 12 months. Individuals who meet one of these criteria and have minimal means of financial support may qualify for this kind of SS disability benefit.


On the other hand, to qualify for SSDI benefits, your disabling illness or injury must be named on the SSA’s list of qualifying impairments, which include:

  • Musculoskeletal disorders
  • Cardiovascular disorders
  • Congenital health conditions
  • Malignant cancers
  • Gastrointestinal syndromes
  • Psychological disorders

Generally, your impairment must prevent you from engaging in any gainful employment for at least 12 months or be terminal to qualify for SSDI. If you suffer from an impairment that is not expressly listed by the SSA, the agency would need to assess whether your disability is of a similarly grave nature that prevents you from working or securing other employment.

In addition to these criteria, you must have been earned enough work credits to collect SSDI benefits. A person accumulates work credits as they pay into the Social Security system through their income taxes. You can earn up to four work credits annually, and the precise time needed to accrue one credit fluctuates on an annual basis.

The more you work, the more credits you can accumulate. While there may be exceptions in some cases, a person applying for SSDI typically needs 40 work credits, with at least half having been collected in the decade before becoming disabled.

How do Immigrants in Atlanta Qualify for SSD?

It is possible for certain immigrants to pursue and obtain SS disability benefits. In addition to meeting all the standard requirements for an SSD claim, immigrants must also hold the appropriate non-citizen status. This includes any lawful immigrant with a valid D-1, D-2, or B-1 VISA.

Furthermore, any immigrant with a Social Security number issued after 2004 can seek disability benefits as well. A Social Security disability law firm can advise someone on how their immigration status could impact their claim for benefits.

When Does Someone Become Eligible to Pursue SSD Benefits?

The SSA imposes a waiting period of five months to filter out applicants with short-term disabilities. In other words, a person can pursue an SSD claim after five consecutive months of being disabled.

There is an important distinction, however, known as compassionate allowances. In cases where a person is suffering from a particularly severe impairment, the SSA will waive the five-month waiting period. In these cases, benefits could be available in a matter of days.

Additional Benefits

When someone receives SSD benefits in Atlanta, they may also qualify to receive Medicaid benefits. While SS disability benefits are federally funded, an individual who qualifies for this type of compensation in Atlanta may also receive a secondary benefit on the state level. This minimal stipend from the state may apply if you reside in a Medicaid-funded nursing home or another care provider. One of our legal advocates can help you determine what kinds of SSD benefits you may qualify for.

Can You Seek Unemployment Benefits and SSD Benefits at the Same Time?

It is not possible to seek unemployment benefits while pursuing a disability claim, even if a worker was laid off for reasons unrelated to their disability. The problem is that unemployment benefits are only awarded to people who are actively seeking employment. If they are not pursuing full-time employment, they are not entitled to unemployment compensation.

Since applicants must be unable to maintain gainful employment to qualify for SSD, seeking full-time employment would indicate to the SSA that they are not too disabled to work. Applicants are typically entitled to pursue one type of benefit or the other, not both.

Contact an Atlanta Attorney about the Qualifications for SS Disability

Obtaining disability benefits is rarely an easy task, and even a minor mistake during the process can adversely affect the decision of the SSA. Instead of trying to handle the claim on your own, you should speak with an attorney who can review your medical and employment history and advise you on what benefits you may be able to claim. To find out more about qualifying for SS disability in Atlanta, contact our intake team today and book your introductory consultation.

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