Looking at Social Security Disability
Seeking Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security Disability is a program that enables individuals with significant disabilities to request benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA). These benefits are designed to provide financial assistance for people whose disabilities prevent them from maintaining gainful full time employment.
Unfortunately, the application process for obtaining disability benefits is often lengthy and confusing. 60% of all applications filed are denied, and many people are not aware that they have the ability to appeal the decision. In fact, 60% of the people who have had their applications denied initially are able to secure a favorable decision in their case at the Administrative Appeals level. If you are filing for disability benefits, or are considering an appeal after your application was denied, it is recommended that you contact a knowledgeable attorney at Disability Action Advocates. We have helped thousands of people successfully obtain benefits through the Social Security Disability program, and serve clients from all walks of life. We are prepared to aggressively represent you in matters that involve:
Social Security Disability Benefits
In order to qualify for disability benefits from the SSA, your disability must preclude you from pursuing your former line of work, or another type of work with similar pay. It must also be expected to result in death, or to last for a continuous period equaling at least 12 months. If your condition qualifies for benefits, the amount of assistance you receive will depend on your work history and your past earnings.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, provides cash benefits to individuals who are blind, disabled with a low income and few possessions, or 65 years of age or older. As with Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet a certain disability standard to qualify and you must also meet a monthly income threshold.
In addition to cash benefits, SSI may also provide benefits that include SNAP food stamps, health insurance, fuel assistance, burial expenses, and special benefits. Special benefits provide financial assistance if you need to move, or if your possessions are destroyed in a disaster.
Social Security Disability Process
The process of obtaining disability benefits begins with filing an application with the SSA. If your application is denied, you may file a Request for Reconsideration. If that request is denied, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law judge. If the judge decides against you, you can appeal all the way up to the Federal District Court.
Your application for disability benefits can be filed in person at an SSA office, on the internet, or over the phone. You will need to provide documentation with your claim that includes your personal/education history, work history, and medical history. By providing as much medical evidence as possible, and having an attorney represent you in your case, the likelihood that your claim is approved will be increased significantly.
The denial rate for disability claims is, on average, very high. Approximately 60% of those who file an application are denied. Specific denial rates vary from state to state. In Nevada, 42.7% of those who apply for benefits are approved at their initial filing. 22.6% are approved upon reconsideration.
Appeals and Hearings
If your disability claim has been denied, there is still a chance that you will be able to gain approval in a hearing, or at an appeal. According to the federal government, over 50% of those whose cases are heard by an Administrative Law Judge are eventually approved for benefits. If a judge decides to deny you benefits, you can still file for an appeal, all the way up to the federal level, if necessary.
If you receive disability benefits and have an outstanding warrant for your arrest, your benefits could be discontinued by the government. The government may also require you to repay all benefits received in a lump sum payment. There are circumstances, however, in which your warrant may not need to be resolved, such as if the warrant is over 10 years old, or is not for a violent or drug related crime.
The Social Security GRID is a chart with categories that include age, work history, and educational history. This chart is used to determine the eligibility of a person applying for disability benefits. The categories for education and work history determine your ability to perform certain work skills in order to establish whether you are eligible for benefits, or can transfer your skills to another line of work.
If you receive Social Security Disability benefits, you will be required to pay federal taxes if your income exceeds $25,000 for the year and you file your tax return as an individual. If you are married and file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes on your benefits if your combined income exceeds $32,000.
Cost of Living Adjustment
Each year, disability benefits are reviewed by the SSA to determine if a Cost of Living Adjustment should be applied. The SSA determines if there has been an increase in living expenses by using the Consumer Price Index, and adjusts the benefits accordingly. It is important to note that you will probably not receive a Cost of Living Adjustment each year.
Working While Disabled
Both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have programs that allow you to pursue employment without losing any benefits. However, there are limitations on the work you can do, and these limitations differ substantially between SSD and SSI. If you take advantage of both programs, it is recommended that you contact an attorney who will help you establish the nature of the work you can pursue.
Receiving Income While Disabled
The SSA does not have a problem with you receiving income while disabled, as long as the income falls within a certain amount. During a trial work period, which lasts for nine months, there is no limit to what you can earn. After your trial work period, you have a 36-month period to work while still receiving benefits. Typically, your income will need to remain below $1,010 or $1,690 if you are blind.
Medicare - How to Apply
You can apply for Medicare on the internet or at a local Social Security office. If you successfully file for Social Security benefits, you will automatically receive Medicare Part A and Part B. As Part B does require additional payments for continued enrollment, you will be able to opt out of that form of Medicare if desired.
Medicaid is a program that provides health and medical services insurance for individuals or families with low incomes and few resources. The program is overseen by the federal government, but executed at the state level. Each state has its own regulations regarding eligibility for the program and the services offered to recipients.
Replace Social Security Card
If you need to replace your Social Security card, you can do so at no charge. You will need to apply for a new card at your local Social Security office, and provide documentation that includes a form SS-5, proof of identification, and proof of U.S. citizenship (or proof of status as a resident if you are not a citizen). If you encounter difficulty in replacing your card, an attorney can provide you with help.
Divorced Spouse Benefits
If you are divorced, you may be eligible for disability benefits as determined by your ex-spouse's earnings record. To qualify, your marriage must have lasted at least 10 years. You must also be 62 years of age or older, and currently single.
Request Job History Summary
You can request a comprehensive summary of your employment history through the SSA. This summary will include the names and addresses of your employers, the periods in which you were employed or self-employed, and earnings information, if requested. The summary can be used to establish your eligibility for disability benefits, or to correct a Social Security record.
Denied SSD Benefits
Disability claim denials are not uncommon. Approximately 60% of all claims are denied, which equates to over one million denials each year. However, for many, a denial is just the first step towards successfully obtaining disability benefits. If your benefits have been denied, you can appeal the original decision. Having an attorney represent you in your appeal can vastly improve your chances of a successful outcome to your case.
Appealing the Claim
You can appeal your denied disability claim more than once. Your first appeal, a Request for Reconsideration, must be filed within 60 days of your initial denial. The success rate for reconsiderations is low. However, the success rate is much higher for the next level of appeal, a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. If your hearing is also unsuccessful, you can file additional appeals, all the way up to a Federal District court, if necessary.
Claim Waiting Times According to the SSA, it takes a minimum of five months, on average, for a person with a valid disability to begin receiving benefits. If an individual's claim is denied, the wait for benefits can increase substantially as the individual navigates the appeal process. A Social Security Disability attorney can provide you with assistance in your case that may decrease the amount of time you are made to wait for benefits.
If your initial disability claim, and your Request for Reconsideration, have both been denied, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. At the hearing, the judge will review evidence and testimony regarding your disability in order to decide whether or not you are eligible for benefits. Having an attorney present your case on your behalf can serve to improve your chances of a positive result in your hearing.
Expediting Your Hearing
You may be able to expedite your hearing for disability benefits if you meet at least one of four criteria. These include being at least 55 years of age, being at critical risk of death unless immediate medical care is received, being at risk of an eviction or home foreclosure, and having a Military Service Casualty Case.
Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is an agency of the U.S. government that is tasked with administering and disbursing social security benefits to eligible recipients. These benefits are given to individuals who have retired, become physically or mentally disabled, or lost a loved one who contributed income to the family.
Compassionate Allowance Program
The Compassionate Allowance Program is designed to assist individuals who are clearly eligible for disability benefits but are experiencing delays in having their claims approved. If your disability is valid, the program may allow you to have your claim expedited at any phase of the application process, including your initial filing, reconsideration, and hearing or Appeals Council.
Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability insurance (SSDI) is a monthly benefit that you can obtain if you have a disability that bars you from carrying out your basic work related activities. In order to be eligible for SSDI, you must have worked in a job covered by Social Security, and suffer from a medical condition that is considered a valid disability by the SSA.
Long Term Disability
If you are already receiving benefits for a long term disability, you may also be able to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. In fact, the majority of long term disability insurers require that you obtain benefits through Social Security, or experience a reduction in your benefits through the insurance company.
If you are a military veteran that became disabled while on active duty on or after October 1st, 2001, you are entitled to have your disability claim expedited through the decision making process. While the expediting of your application is supposed to be automatic, it is recommended that you seek the help of an attorney who can ensure that your claim is processed as quickly as possible.
Disability Benefits and Addictions
Drug addiction and alcoholism can significantly impact an individual's ability to work and can also lead to debilitating medical conditions. Those who suffer physical or mental disabilities as the result of an addiction may be able to recover benefits under certain circumstances.
Checking the Status of Your Claim
If you have filed an initial claim for disability benefits, or requested a reconsideration, you will want to check on the status of your claim about one to three months after your last filing. You can do this by contacting your local Social Security office, or, if inquiring about an initial filing, the state disability agency that is handling your claim.
America's Disability Advocates
Disability Action Advocates is prepared to give you the help you need in filing for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration. Our experienced team will provide you with guidance at any level of the claim process, and will seek to secure benefits on your behalf as quickly as possible.
Benefits Without Health Insurance
Obtaining disability benefits without health insurance can be difficult. Without health insurance, you may have trouble providing documentation of your medical history, which can result in a denial of your claim. If you are without health insurance, it may be in your best interest to seek help from a Social Security Disability advocate who can fight for a successful outcome to your claim.
SSD and SSI Myths
Many Americans decide not to file for SSD or SSI benefits as a result of myths that they have heard about both programs. These myths include the SSA denying all first-time applicants, being ineligible for benefits if you work at all, an inability for younger individuals to win disability cases, and an automatic denial of benefits if you have ever used drugs or alcohol.
Disability for Children
Minor children (from birth to the age of 18) are eligible for SSI benefits if their impairments meet the criteria for disabilities as described by the SSA, and if their parents' income and resources are within certain limitations. Adult children may obtain SSD if their impairments meet the disability criteria, and if their parents are receiving retirement or disability benefits or are deceased.
Dedicated and Experienced Legal Help
At DAA, we have 17 years of experience in addressing Social Security Disability cases. After serving thousands of clients, we know how to get results. We urge you to contact us for assistance in filing your disability claim. If you do not receive an approval after your initial filing, you will not be charged a fee for our services until we successfully resolve your case.