Sometimes, when it comes to legal matters and governmental benefits, most people start a conversation assuming that everyone understands some of the basic tenets of how Social Security works. However, for many who are just beginning to engage with the system, it is helpful to refresh how one qualifies for Social Security benefits, and what kinds of benefits are available.

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, which are separate from Social Security retirement benefits, a person must have held employment in a job that covered Social Security. If, for instance, you have never been employed, then receiving Social Security disability benefits may not be possible. Furthermore, you must suffer from a medical condition that Social Security defines as a disability. This can be more complicated than you might expect, and may require appealing your case. If you are approved, you will be sent money every month by the Social Security Administration.

Social Security disability benefits are intended to help cover the gaps while you recover from an injury or disability and return to work. However, you may never return to work, depending on the circumstances and timing of your disability. In the event that you receive Social Security disability benefits until you are old enough to retire with full benefits, then your disability benefits will convert to retirement benefits, and the amount will stay the same.

Navigating the Social Security system is not simple, and many people who should qualify for benefits do not receive everything they are entitled to. With the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can explore the system confidently and rest assured that your rights will remain protected.

Source: Social Security Administration, “Disability Planner: How You Qualify,” accessed Feb. 16, 2017