You may have heard that certain conditions automatically qualify you for disability in South Carolina. You should know, however, that the term “automatically qualify” is a misnomer. Instead, those conditions make you eligible for expedited review, provided they come with the proper diagnosis and paperwork.

This can make a huge difference in terms of how long it will take for you to actually receive your social security disability benefits. Normally the process can take up to a year or even longer. With an expedited review, you may be able to get your benefits within a month. So in comparison, it can really feel like automatic approval.

What Conditions Qualify for “Automatic” or Expedited Approval in South Carolina?

Before we get to the specific conditions, it’s important to know that you must prove that your disability is preventing you from performing the kind of work you used to do. You must also find yourself unable to adjust to other work because of your condition. In addition, it’s crucial that your disability has lasted or is expected to last for more than a year. Social security disability does not pay for short-term disability.

The Social Security Administration has a Blue Book that lists the kinds of disabilities and disorders that would qualify someone for social security disability benefits, provided they are severe enough as well as long-term.

They include bone, joint, and skeletal spine injuries, injuries affecting eyesight and speech, cardiovascular issues such as chronic heart failure, digestive system issues including liver dysfunction or inflammatory bowel disease, advanced cancer, neurological disorders, mental disorders, and many more.

If you have any of these conditions, they still must be properly diagnosed and shown to be so severe that you cannot function at full capacity in order to qualify for disability benefits.

If you have other conditions not on the list that severely affect your normal functioning, you can still qualify for disability benefits. Again, they have to be properly diagnosed by your doctor and be severe enough in how they affect your ability to function to have them be considered equivalent to the listed conditions.

In fact, the severity of the condition is the key when it comes to whether it qualifies. The SSA will review whether it matches its requirements for whichever specific condition you may have.

Conditions That Must Be Met in Order to Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits

In order to qualify for social security disability benefits (SSDI), a person must have had a job or a work history where they paid social security taxes (FICA) into that program. It’s literally an insurance that they’ve paid into during their working life.

They also had to have worked long enough to have earned enough credits to qualify for disability benefits. The longer they have worked and earned wages or self-employment income, the more credits they have. They received one credit for each quarter they worked and earned a certain minimum amount of money, up to four credits per year. In order to qualify for SSDI, they need a minimum of 40 credits.

They must also demonstrate that they have a medically proven mental or physical condition or disability that either

  • has left them unable to engage in substantial gainful work for twelve months or more,
  • or that is expected to prevent them from engaging in substantial gainful work for at least twelve months,
  • or that is expected to result in death.

What If You Don’t Have a Sufficient Work History?

If you have not worked in a job where you paid social security taxes, you are not covered for SSDI benefits. However, if you have a limited income as well as limited resources, you may qualify for SSI benefits. This is something that children, who have no work history, can qualify for as well.

How to Navigate the Approval Process

As you can see, the process of getting approved for disability benefits can be very complex and take a long time. You really need the help of an experienced social security disability attorney to help you navigate this challenging process so you’ll actually get awarded the benefits.

What’s more, even though the SSA is an independent national agency of the federal government, the actual administrative work happens at the state level, sometimes in multiple places within each state. In South Carolina, for example, there are three main offices, located in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville.

So you have to apply for disability benefits through the SSA, but the actual decisions are made through South Carolina’s Disability Determination Services (DDS), operating out of the three main offices listed above.

And you should know that there are small but significant differences between the states as well as between the offices at the state level when it comes to things like wait times for hearings, average disposition times, and average approval rates.

In addition, each of the three main state hearing offices has multiple additional field offices, where judges hold hearings. So you can see how important it is to have an experienced lawyer at your side, one who is familiar with the judges at the hearings and can best help support you during the entire application process.

What You Should Do

If you have a condition that qualifies you for social security disability, whether it qualifies for “automatic” or expedited approval or not, you should talk to a qualified social security disability attorney. Call us or email us for a free consultation and case evaluation. We will be happy to help you.