These days, disability insurance is a hot topic of political discussion. After years of low-key operation, federal and state disability programs have been thrust into the spotlight. Despite its new-found prominence in the national discourse, disability insurance remains a necessary source of income for millions of Americans with health conditions that make gainful employment difficult or impossible. Before you file your disability insurance claim in Alabama, review these five little-known facts about the program. 1. Your Claim Won’t Automatically Be Accepted Many workers who suffer long-term injuries or receive psychological diagnoses that preclude gainful employment assume that they’ll automatically be accepted into Alabama’s disability insurance program. This is far from the truth: Recent statistics indicate that only 30% of initial applications for disability insurance are accepted by Alabama Disability Determination Services. That’s lower than the national average. 2. You’ll Need to Meet Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) Criteria In Alabama and elsewhere, ultimate decisions to distribute or withhold disability insurance payments often turn on the question of whether a potential recipient can perform “substantial gainful activity.” SGA isn’t exactly synonymous with “working,” but most forms of work do count as substantial gainful activity. If you earn more than a set amount per month, you’ll be deemed capable of performing SGA and won’t be eligible for disability benefits. Current SGA thresholds sit at $1,740 for blind workers and $1,040 for non-blind workers. 3. Unemployment Isn’t the Whole Story Many applicants wrongly believe that currently employed individuals are automatically ineligible to receive disability insurance payments. While unemployed applicants tend to have a better shot at earning disability insurance payments, those who engage in “unsuccessful work attempts” may be considered as well. If you work at a job for less than six months after a prolonged period of unemployment and ultimately leave said job as a result of your disability, you can petition to have your stint categorized as a UWA. If this petition is successful, you’ll remain eligible for disability benefits. 4. Appeals Work While only 30% of initial disability applications are accepted by Alabama Disability Determination Services, a full 62% earn acceptance after applicants lodge formal appeals. If your application has merit, don’t be discouraged by an initial rejection. Instead, talk to a lawyer about appealing the decision. 5. Disability Eligibility and Awards Aren’t Static State and federal agencies are constantly updating eligibility requirements for disability insurance payments. For instance, the late 1990s saw an increase in the length of time for which applicants are eligible for Medicare support. By contrast, recent changes have made it more difficult for some individuals with diagnosed psychological disorders to continue receiving benefits. It’s important to work through these issues with a disability insurance expert. If you’re in the Mobile, AL area and having trouble negotiating your disability insurance situation, consider reaching out to a law firm for expert counsel. At Boteler, Finley & Wolfe, we have years of experience successfully representing disability cases. Let us help you with yours.