Free Answers to Your Frequently Asked Social Security Disability Questions
The Social Security Administration has 3 main things they analyze in order to consider an applicant to be disabled. First, you must not be able to return to the previous work that you have done. Second, your medical condition prevents you from doing any other types of work in the national economy. Lastly, your disability either has been ongoing for one year, or is expected to last at least one year. According to the SSA you are disabled if you are unable“to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any determinable physical or mental impairment.”
Utilizing the services of an attorney will help you navigate the uncertain and often complicated waters of the application process. Some people elect to file in person with the SSA or do the application on their own, however, they do so at their own risk. The SSA’s job is to adjudicate your claim, not to be on your side. Having an attorney that not only knows the law, but also knows the technicalities of the application will increase your chances of it not being turned down on a technicality. Also, you will have someone in your corner who’s sole purpose is to advocate for you and complete the most thorough, complete, and persuasive application possible (as opposed to a government adjudicator just filling out the forms).
To begin, you do not need any documents in order to begin the process with our office. We will work with you to uncover your medical providers and will ensure that the proper documentation gets filed and that the appropriate medical records are received for your claim.
The initial application takes 60-90 days to be processed through the Social Security Administration. If an applicant is denied, we proceed with the first level of appeal called a request for reconsideration which will take another 60-90 days. Should that also be denied, we would file a request for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge, and the wait time for that hearing can vary from as few as 6 months to as long as a year (or sometimes more).
Under specific conditions it is possible to receive both simultaneously. This is considered “concurrent benefits” and is only possible if you are already receiving low SSDI benefits. The SSI program is a financial need-based program that looks at your “countable income” which is all your earned and unearned income. As long as your income is under $710 per month you can receive concurrent benefits.
The Social Security Administration runs two different programs, Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). The main difference between SSDI and SSI is the revenue source through which they are funded. SSDI is funded through FICA and Social Security taxes. SSI is not financed through Social Security, but rather through general tax revenues. The qualifications for SSDI and SSI differ based on how long an individual has worked in the last 10 years.
The amount is based on work history, income received, and living situation. In May, 2019, the average for an individual is $1,197, and the maximum is $2,788.
In most cases doing “substantial gainful activity” is considered working and will put your benefits in jeopardy. Doing SGA means you are working and making more than $1,220 per month or are working more than 20 hours per week. However, doing any type of work puts your claim at risk as many adjudicators and judges look at even a small amount of part-time work through the lens of “if you can work a little you can work even more to get to the SGA level.”
Any illness that is severe enough can potentially qualify you for benefits. However, the SSA does have a “listing of impairments” which is in the “blue book.” This covers a wide variety of conditions that, if they are met, almost automatically entitles you to benefits.
When an application is filed it is sent to your state’s local Disability Determination Services Office. It is evaluated by an examiner along side a doctor. If it is denied and the claimant asks for a request of reconsideration, then it is sent to another examiner and they go over the claim with another doctor once again. If denied again and the claimant wants to appeal, the case is sent to an Administrative Law Judge for consideration. Keep in mind that all these processes take a considerable amount of time.
The most common reasons for an application to be denied is insufficient or missing medical documentation of your condition. Additionally, not completing the application correctly or living some parts blank can also be a common way to have a claim denied. Finally, as previously discussed, working above the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level and earning more than $1,220 per month will disqualify you as well.
A technical denial of Social Security Disability benefits occurs when an applicant does not meet the legal or financial requirements of SSDI or SSI.
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ITo learn more about your rights under the Social Security Disability laws call our FREE Disability Hotline at 1-866-4-MY-SSDI (469-7734) to speak with one of our friendly disability rights advocates who, once they obtain all the required information, will evaluate your claim in 60 seconds or less or fill out our FREE Disability Case Assessment form and one of our representatives will contact you immediately.
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