Common Social Security Disability Questions

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A lawyer who has experience with Social Security Disability programs can help you get the benefits you deserve faster and with less burdensome effort from you. If your application for SSD benefits is denied, it could be a year before you get an appeals hearing.

Your application for SSD benefits must present medical evidence proving that you are unable to work.

There are many reasons an SSD claim may be denied. You could even have your claim closed because you missed a deadline for filing the claim, submitting information or filing an appeal. You would then have to start over.

Becker Law Office can help prepare your initial SSD application, and make sure it is complete, accurate and submitted on time. If your application has already been denied, we can determine what it lacks and help you secure additional evidence for reconsideration of your claim. We can help you get in touch with doctors who understand the SSD process better than others, if that is necessary to ensure your application adequately explains your disability.

Contact a Becker Law Office SSD attorney today to ensure that one of our experienced attorneys is by your side throughout the SSD benefits application process.

Social Security Disability

How do I know whether I qualify for Social Security Disability benefits?

You must be totally disabled to be eligible to receive for Social Security Disability (SSD) payments. This is defined as having an injury or illness that prevents you from doing any “substantial gainful work” and that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months, or to result in your death. You must also have earned wages and paid into the Social Security system at some point.

To obtain benefits, you must demonstrate that your medical condition significantly limits your ability to do basic work activities, and has or will do so for at least 12 months. You will be required to show that you cannot do the work you did prior to your injury or illness, and that you cannot adjust to other work because of your disability.

The Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments describes impairments that are considered severe enough to prevent an adult from doing any gainful activity. If your medical condition matches a listed impairment, you should receive SSD with no further inquiry.

Next you must qualify under two earnings tests: you must have worked “recently” and you must have worked long enough under Social Security. The amount of time necessary to meet each requirement increases according to your age at the time of disability. If you are 31 years or older, for example, you must have worked five of the last 10 years.

At Becker Law Office, we know the ins-and-outs of the Social Security Disability program. We will do everything possible to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.

What is the difference between Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income?

The Social Security Disability (SSD) program pays benefits to workers who have paid Social Security taxes, which is what makes it an insurance program. It is sometimes called “Social Security Disability Insurance” or SSDI. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) helps people who have never been able to earn a sufficient income because of a disability or are no longer insured for SSD. Both SSD and SSI programs are administered by the Social Security Administration.

Whether you qualify for SSD or SSI benefits, you’ll fare better if you file a complete and accurate application. If your application has been denied, you’ll need to understand what additional information will change the Social Security Administration’s decision on appeal. The Becker Law Office can help you at any stage of your SSD or SSI application process.

Here’s a closer look at Social Security Disability Programs.

What can I do if my SSD claim was denied?

There are several levels of appeals available for you to obtain the assistance you are seeking if your initial application for Social Security Disability benefits has been denied. Unfortunately, the appeals process is as complicated as the initial application process.

More than half of SSD claims are initially denied, according to the Social Security Administration, so it’s important to appeal a claim that has been rejected. In many cases, it is a technical matter – such as missing information or information stated incorrectly – that leads to a rejection. Sometimes additional medical information is necessary to help claims reviewers understand how the applicant’s condition matches a disability the Social Security Administration recognizes.

The appeals process progresses from informal reviews of medical records and other evidence to a hearing in a more formal setting.

An experienced SSD lawyer from the Becker Law Office can review your case file to determine the problem in your application and help you to prepare for a successful appeal.

Are emotional problems considered a disability that qualifies for SSD benefits?

Yes, individuals with disabling mental health issues may obtain Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Applicants for SSD must demonstrate that their mental health issues prevent them from holding the job they had before and make them unable to adjust to new work because of their mental illness.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) Listing of Impairments specifically addresses “mental disorders” that qualify for SSD benefits. The SSI program recognizes developmental or mental disorders of childhood that cause a deficit or lag in motor, cognitive / communicative or social functioning skills.

Like SSD applicants who have physical disabilities, the applicant seeking a mental health disability may be asked to undergo an additional medical examination at the Social Security Administration’s expense. An applicant must comply with this request for the claim to move forward.

A Becker Law Office attorney can help an individual with a mental health disability, or their family members, to obtain needed SSD or SSI benefits. We can act on your behalf to develop a complete and accurate benefits application and keep your claim moving forward so you’ll have a better chance of getting the benefits you deserve.

Can I work but still receive Social Security Disability benefits?

You can continue to receive Social Security Disability benefits while holding a job that provides a limited income. But if you earn more than a defined maximum income you could lose your status as disabled. (For 2014, the limit is $1,070 a month or $1,800 for blind SSD recipients. For 2015, the limit is $1090 a month or $1820 for blind SSD recipients.)

Your status as disabled in the eyes of the Social Security Administration depends on your ability to hold a job. When considering your benefits application, claims reviewers will first consider whether you are able to perform the essential functions of your current job. If you can perform the job’s essential functions with or without reasonable accommodation, the SSA will likely say you are not disabled.

If the evaluation team determines your disability prevents you from returning to your previous job, they will then consider whether you can perform any kind of “substantial gainful activity.” They’ll take into account your medical condition, age, education, past work experience and any applicable skills you have. If you cannot do other work, you should then be classified as disabled.

If you receive SSD or SSI benefits but want to work, you must notify the SSA to protect your existing benefits eligibility. Earning income will reduce your benefit payments, but the SSA allows SSD recipients to test their ability to work for a period of time before reducing their benefits. The SSA also offers education, rehabilitation and training programs to help able SSD recipients return to work.

If you qualify for SSD benefits and are working or would like to return to work, you should consult an experienced SSD benefits attorney from Becker Law Office. We can advise you about how this may affect your benefits and help you notify the SSA of your work status.

I have been told I will not get SSD because I am getting workers’ compensation payments. Is this true?

No, this is a common misunderstanding. Workers’ compensation payments may affect the amount of your SSD benefit, but you can receive and should apply for Social Security Disability payments as soon as you meet the qualification standards.

Workers’ compensation payments and/or other disability benefits may be counted against your SSD benefit. This is known as the “workers’ compensation offset.”An offset is applied if your total disability benefit adds up to more than 80 percent of the average weekly wage you earned before you became disabled.

Most federal, state and local disability payments are included in offset calculations. Veterans Administration benefits, Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act (RUIA), illness benefits, Black Lung Part B benefits, and several other types of disability payments are exempted.

The offset will be applied until you turn either age 62 or 65, depending on when you first qualified for SSD benefits.

An SSD benefits attorney from the Becker Law Office can advise you about how other disability payments you receive or may receive might affect your SSD benefit.

My disability would be apparent to anyone who meets me. Why do I need a lawyer to obtain SSD benefits?

A lawyer who has experience with Social Security Disability programs can help you get the benefits you deserve faster and with less burdensome effort from you. If your application for SSD benefits is denied, it could be a year before you get an appeals hearing.

Your application for SSD benefits must present medical evidence proving that you are unable to work.

There are many reasons an SSD claim may be denied. You could even have your claim closed because you missed a deadline for filing the claim, submitting information or filing an appeal. You would then have to start over.

The Becker Law Office can help prepare your initial SSD application, and make sure it is complete, accurate and submitted on time. If your application has already been denied, we can determine what it lacks and help you secure additional evidence for reconsideration of your claim. We can help you get in touch with doctors who understand the SSD process better than others, if that is necessary to ensure your application adequately explains your disability.

Contact a Becker Law Office SSD attorney today to ensure that one of our experienced attorneys is by your side throughout the SSD benefits application process.