Could You Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
You are out of a job. In fact, you have been looking but the type of work that you have been doing is now being done by robots! You do not think that you can start all over again at your age. Your back and knees keep you from standing for any length of time or doing any manual labor. Or you have other medical issues that make a full day’s work tough. Now you are thinking about Social Security disability claim and wondering if you might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
Disability Benefits—a Little History
When we talk about Social Security benefits, we are usually referring to the program that pays retirement benefits to the majority of older Americans who have worked and paid into the system. The Social Security Act was passed in 1935. There was no provision for disability benefits in the Act despite the recognition that there was a need to provide income for workers who were no longer able to work due to some physical or mental condition. There were many who believed that it would not be possible to determine if someone was really unable to do any type of substantial work. The belief that many people who were actually able to work would be able to get disability benefits delayed the creation of a disability insurance fund for many years.
In 1956 the Social Security disability insurance program was enacted. Its stated purpose is to provide monthly benefits to workers who are no longer able to work. This disability program is now part of and is administered by the Social Security Administration or the SSA.
What Does It Take to Get Approved?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits you must prove that you are not able to work.
More precisely, you must be:
- Unable to do substantial gainful activity (a job that pays more than a minimal amount)
- Because you have a medically determinable impairment (one or more mental or physical conditions that can be proven by medical evidence)
- That has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or end in death.
If you’ve lost your job, you will have no problem proving that you are not currently engaged in any substantial gainful activity since you are not working. The next question is: why aren’t you working? Are you unable to work because of an impairment or condition that can be proven medically or are you just not able to find a job? If you lost your job because the company that you worked for closed its doors or no longer needed someone to do the job that you were doing, that does not prove that you are disabled. It means that you are unemployed.
Social Security disability is not an unemployment benefit. While it is true that to qualify you have to be pretty much out of job, the reason for being out of job must be a mental or physical condition that you are dealing with.
A Closer Look
Let’s take a closer look at your situation. We know why you no longer have your previous job. The question is: why haven’t you been able to go back to work? Your old job is gone and no one is willing to hire you and train you for different work. You have tried to take on a few part time jobs but those involved hard, physical work that your back and legs just can’t handle for more than a few hours at a time. You are getting up in age and things just take longer than they used to.
Don’t be too quick to think that you do not qualify for benefits. The condition or impairment that is keeping you from working need not be a broken back or some other injury caused by an accident. You do not need to be confined to bed or a wheel chair to qualify.
Moreover, the Social Security disability adjudicator can consider your age, education, and previous training when deciding to grant or deny your application for benefits. The reason for losing your job is important, but your application for disability benefits will need to address the reason that you are not working at the present time.
What to Do Next
Here is some advice that you should seriously consider. You are reading this information because you are thinking about filing for disability but aren’t sure you have any chance of qualifying. You haven’t been able to find a job that you are able to do and you are afraid that you are not going to be able to support yourself or your family. You may be about to make some decisions that will have a long lasting impact on your life. Your next step should be to talk to an attorney who is experienced in handling Social Security disability cases. The laws and procedures for applying for disability are complicated. The attorneys at the Hermann Law Group have many years of experience in these matters. An appointment with an attorney who can help you decide will be free and just may put you on your way to receiving benefits.
Some people complain about those on disability. They claim that disability recipients are getting money from the government that they don’t deserve. Do not let these comments keep you from applying for the benefits that you are paying for. You can rest assured that your application will be examined carefully. When you do get benefits, you will have proven that you really are disabled!
Preparing for Your Meeting with a Disability Attorney
Here are a few tips to making your trip to the attorney more productive:
- Be aware of any physical or mental issues that you have been dealing with. If you have not been to the doctor and had a good physical in a while, you should consider at least scheduling a check-up.
- Talk to family members or friends and find out if they have noticed any conditions that you appear to be dealing with. Often people will notice problems that you are having but will be reluctant to say anything unless you ask.
- Make a list of your work history. Include the type of work, the number of hours a week, and a description of the actual tasks necessary to do the job. For example, lifting and carrying 25 pounds a distance of 20 feet 10 to 15 times in a 4 hour shift; standing on your feet for 2 or more hours.
- Make a list of tasks that you are not able to perform. This may include walking more than 50 feet at a time, climbing stairs, working on things that are over your head, etc.
- Be prepared for the application process to take many months.
5 Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Explained by a New Jersey Social Security Disability Attorney
Many individuals exploring Social Security Disability benefits may not be aware that there are more than one type of disability benefit available. In fact, a New Jersey Social Security disability attorney can explain to you that you may be eligible for one of five types of Social Security Disability benefits:
- Social Security Disability Insurance. To qualify for SSDI, you generally have to prove that you suffer from a qualifying disability and that the disability will last for at least 12 months. You will also have to show a work history where you earned enough work credits to qualify for the benefit. To learn more about your eligibility for this benefit, you will want to talk to a New Jersey Social Security disability lawyer;
- Supplemental Security Income. Individuals who do not qualify for SSDI may still qualify for SSI benefits. This benefit is available to low-income individuals whose household income and assets are below a certain amount. To qualify for SSI, you do not need to have earned a certain amount of work credits. However, the amount of benefits available through SSI may be less than SSDI;
- Widows’ Benefits. A widow or widower who is over the age of 50 and who becomes disabled within a certain period of time after the death of a spouse may be eligible for this benefit. To qualify, the spouse of the widower must have earned enough work credits and have been insured by the SSA;
- Disabled Child Benefits. Someone who suffers a disability as a child may be entitled to benefits if his or her parents earned enough work credits; and
- Children of Disabled Workers. Minor children of an individual who receives Social Security Disability benefits may also be eligible for benefits. The amount that the child may collect will depend upon how much the parent earned.
To learn more about any of these benefits, you will want to contact a New Jersey Social Security disability lawyer.
Social Security Benefits Explained
Most workers who are approaching middle or retirement age have questions about Social Security and how the system is going to work for them after they have been paying into it. You may want to talk with New York disability attorneys about how you can expect Social Security to work.
In general, Social Security is intended to provide financial support for retirees so that they are not completely without a safety net in their later years when they are unable to work. The typical amount is intended only to cover basic living expenses, though the actual amount varies from person to person, as New York disability attorneys can explain.
Funded by Tax Dollars
Any worker has noticed that a certain amount is deducted from their regular paycheck for Social Security by their employer. (The employer also provides a matching contribution.) This rule applies to the first $106,800 of income you earn in a given year. In order to eventually qualify for benefits at retirement, New York disability lawyers will explain that you must have worked for at least 10 years. Your benefit amount will be calculated using your highest-earning 35 years and taking the average income from those years.
As of 2012, Social Security payments ranged from an average of about $1,200 to a maximum of $2,500. However, these amounts are expected to increase annually due to inflation. Talk with your New York disability attorneys to find out the expected amount when you retire.
Why Delay Retirement?
As of 2012, early retirement age under Social Security regulations is 62. (Early retirement means you will not receive the full benefits amount, so your New York disability attorneys might advise you to try waiting.) If you instead choose to wait until full retirement age (67 in 2012), you will receive more. The prospect of raising the retirement age has been politically debated for several years. It is possible that retirement age will be raised at some point in the near future. If you choose to keep working after 62, your earnings will be taken into account and your benefits from SS will be reduced.
Those who are self-employed must pay employment tax equal to the sum of what employee and employer contributions to tax would be if the person were employed by a company. In 2012, self-employment was 12.4 percent. Some New York disability lawyers might recommend that you incorporate in order to take some of your compensation as dividends, although this will have the effect of reducing your retirement benefits, so choose your course of action wisely.
The Initial Determination and Reconsideration
After filing your claim, Social Security contracts out the medical decision-making process to the Office of Disability Determination in your state. Case workers, while employed by the individual states, follow the guidelines and procedures set out by the Federal Social Security Law and Regulations. These guidelines, as followed by the State Agency, help the caseworkers analyze the medical and vocational evidence they review.
During this stage, which is called the Initial Determination, it typically takes four to six months for the State Agency to make its decision. Because they make efforts to contact the treating sources you have mentioned in your application, a complete application listing all the doctors who have treated all of your conditions is vital.
This is where Hermann Law Group’s help is critical. One of the biggest problems we see is how poorly many cases are developed at the Initial Determination level. State Agency examiners handle large volumes of claims and cannot give cases individual attention. Thus, if your doctors do not submit their reports and records on time, the Social Security Administration may make a decision with little or no evidence from your doctors. At Hermann Law Group, we make sure that your application is complete and that all relevant medical evidence is included in your file. If a treating physician does not supply a complete report, we follow up until we are confident that your file contains all of the evidence required to prove your disability.
The State Agency usually asks claimants to complete a Daily Activity Questionnaire. Although it is a long form that scares many people, we advise our clients to keep the answers short and then send the form to us to review and submit. Sometimes Social Security may call claimants with specific questions about their medical conditions or work history. We advise our clients to tell Social Security or the State Agency that our permission is needed before answering any questions
By involving us in your claim from the very beginning, we can make sure that your application is as complete as possible, and greatly increase your chances of success at the Initial Determination, without any appeals necessary.
SSD Lawyers Westchester on How to Improve Your Chances for Approval
One important consideration to keep in mind if you are applying for Social Security disability: it is a process that has specific rules and regulations at each stage. Consequently, you can maximize your likelihood of success differently, for instance, at the examiner phase, as opposed to the hearing phase.
The Examiner Phase
When you file your Initial Application for SSD, it is likely your file will be reviewed by an examiner who is not an employee of the Social Security Administration. This examiner will apply the SSA standards and review your medical record to determine if he or she feels your impairments prevent you from working. Of primary importance at the examiner phase is to:
- Provide a complete medical history
- Have your treating physician fill out a Residual Functional Capacity form
- Promptly respond to all correspondence from the SSA
- Attend an independent medical examination if requested by the SSA
Even complete applications can, however, be denied. In fact, as SSD lawyers Westchester understand, most initial applications are denied. Similarly, the first level of appeal, reconsideration, which is another review by a different medical examiner, typically results in denial. Most applicants’ best opportunity is at the hearing phases.
Conducted before an administrative law judge, the hearing phase allows for you to testify. This is often a seminal moment in the SSD process; the judge will hear directly from you as to the true impact you impairments have on your ability to work and conduct the activities of daily life. Also, be certain any new, relevant medical information has been given to the SSA. Due to the nature of the hearing, which may include testimony from a medical and vocational expert witness, it is highly recommended you retain experienced SSD lawyers Westchester in preparation for your hearing.
Contact SSD Lawyers Westchester for Legal Advice
Don’t be discouraged by a SSD denial. It is important to preserve your rights with a timely appeal. For questions at any stage of the process, call Hermann Law Group, PLLC, SSD lawyers Westchester, at (914) 286-3030.
Ten Important Tips for Winning Your Social Security Disability Claim
1. Begin NOW!
Don’t wait until your financial resources become tight. Success in your claim is based only on your disability, not on how much money you have in the bank. Applications can take over a year to process, and up to two years if you need to request a hearing or appeal an unfavorable decision from the Social Security Administration. You do not have to deplete all of your assets in order to receive Social Security disability. You can receive benefits from multiple sources at the same time without affecting your Social Security disability claim.
2. Strongly Consider Hiring an Attorney
Living with a disability in itself is overwhelming; trying to navigate a Social Security claim alone is unnecessary and usually not cost effective. The better organized your claim is, the better your chances of a quick and favorable decision. Being represented by an attorney from the beginning will reduce your stress level and will increase your chances of winning the highest possible award at the earliest possible date.
By law, all attorneys’ fees are subject to approval by the Social Security Administration. Many attorneys charge the same fee for all work up to the first hearing, no matter when they get involved: 25% of any back due benefits.
A good disability attorney will:
- patiently answer all of your questions,
- help you fill out your paperwork, and
- appear with you at a hearing.
An excellent disability attorney will ALSO:
- file your initial application for you electronically,
- help you from day 1 in organizing your case,
- collect a complete and accurate medical record for your claim,
- request additional information from your physicians, and
- aggressively follow up to make sure that your claim is processed quickly and fairly.
Hire an attorney now—avoid making mistakes and eliminate the unnecessary stress of trying to handle your claim by yourself. Your odds of winning your disability case are greater if you have an experienced attorney representing you. A disability attorney who is familiar with disability hearings will understand how the procedure works and be able to prepare a stronger case for you.
3. Keep Careful Records of Your Condition
Dedicate a notebook/journal to your disability. Record of all your medical appointments, and keep all of your medical receipts. Document all of the medical treatments you have undergone and medications you have been prescribed — and note how successful each has been. If you have chronic pain, keep a diary.
It is in your best interest to provide as much evidence as you can to support your case. Be proactive and provide your records, do not assume the SSA will be vigilante in collecting all of them.
4. Document All of Your Disabling Symptoms and Conditions
Every symptom, physical or psychological, may be relevant to your claim. Many medical disabilities result in psychological strain, and often there are powerful emotional and psychological components to disabling illnesses. If you have been diagnosed with depression or anxiety, or if you are undergoing any type of mental stress or pressure following your disability, document your mental state in your disability notebook/journal.
While there may be one condition that is ailing you the most, you need to be sure that the SSA knows if you have more than one medical condition or disability. Do not assume anything is irrelevant.
5. Involve Your Doctor
You will need copies of all relevant medical records, which your physician’s office should provide. For a successful Social Security disability claim, your doctor should provide you with a letter detailing how your medical conditions limit your ability to return to work and to do everyday activities. Many doctors are reluctant to involve themselves with the paperwork you require for a successful claim, but if you have an attorney, he or she should make sure that your medical records are clear and complete. The information your doctor provides will have a huge impact on your claim.
6. DON’T GIVE UP!
We believe that the initial claim denial is actually meant to discourage you from appealing your claim. Over 60% of all claims are denied at the initial claim level. If you are denied benefits, appeal and keep appealing. Find an excellent Social Security disability claim attorney who will aggressively pursue your case.
It is a statistical fact that the majority of disability cases are denied at the initial application. More are denied at the next level. However, majority of cases that go to the hearing level and have legal representation are won.
7. The Real Fight Begins on Appeal
If your initial claim is denied, which is not at all surprising or an indication of the quality of your claim, the process will be adjudicated to an administrative law judge. You will only have 60 days after the SSA rendered the initial decision to file an appeal. While in some cases, it may be in your best interests to refile the claim (something you can discuss with your lawyer) in the majority of cases, filing an appeal will be the correct route to take.
This will require that you and your attorney file an appeal letter outlining why you think the committee that determines disability benefits erred in their judgment. Each denial letter has an explanation that gives the reason for the denial. You and your attorney will attempt to rebut this reason by providing the court with sufficient evidence to prove your claim.
Common reasons for denials include:
- Your disability is not severe enough to prevent you from working;
- Or, there is simply a lack of evidence that you cannot work because of your disability.
8. Get Your Doctor to Sign Off on Your Claim
You will want to involve your doctor as much as possible, as we have stated earlier. But it might also be a good idea to pump him or her for opinions on what you can and cannot do in a workplace environment. For instance, if your disability prevents you from standing or leaves you in a considerable amount of pain, this might preclude you from fulfilling your duties at work.
In the initial phases of the Social Security disability applications claim process, a statement like these will not move a claims examiner to consider this information. On the other hand, at a disability hearing, such statements can have a major impact.
Many cases hinge on subjective considerations such as pain level or the extent of an individual’s symptoms. For more information, see number 9.
9. Have Your Doctor Fill Out an RFC Form
An RFC form can significantly help your claim. RFC means “residual functional capacity.” The Social Security claims examiner uses this to determine how much “functional capacity” you have given your disability. Once it has been established that you can no longer function in your or last job, the claims examiner will attempt to determine if you can do any job.
The claims examiner will elicit the aid of a doctor to fill out an RFC form. By having your own doctor fill out an RFC form, you have a powerful piece of evidence on your side.
10. Neither Exaggerate Nor Understate Your Symptoms
Those who will be rendering decisions on your disability case have heard thousands before just like yours. If the information doesn’t add up, they will pick up on it immediately. The best course of action is to be very specific about your symptoms and neither exaggerate them in an attempt to sway the committee or understate them.
Our Social Security Lawyer Discusses Meeting and Equaling Listings
Many claimants have questions for their Social Security New Rochelle lawyer about how to win disability claims. A Social Security disability lawyer can explain that the two ways to win a claim are to either meet or equal a listing under the official Listing of Impairments recognized by the Social Security Administration.
Meeting a Listing
The Social Security Administration contains a very detailed set of impairments and their severity. Each individual listing includes specific medical criteria that specifies the severity the condition must be in order for a person to be considered unable to work, as well as certain durational requirements. Meeting a listing denotes that a claimant has the same severity and duration of an impairment as that which is included in the Listing of Impairments. If a claimant’s conditions meets a listing, the individual will be considered disabled at this step in the sequential process and the analysis will go no further.
Equaling a Listing
If a claimant does not actually meet a listing, he or she can still be approved for disability benefits at this stage of the sequential process if he or she equals a listing. To equal a listing, a claimant must have an impairment that is just as severe as on of the conditions that is specifically listed and described in the official Listing of Impairments. There are a number of ways that a claimant can equal a listing, including:
- The claimant’s conditions or symptoms are not specifically mentioned in the listing and the claimant’s impairment does not match every required medical condition or symptoms in the listing.
- The claimant has all of the required medical conditions and symptoms, but they are not severe enough according to the listing. However, the claimant also has additional conditions or symptoms not present in the listing.
- Although a claimant’s impairment is not in the listings, he or she has an impairment that is just as severe as a similar impairment.
- The combination of impairments that do not meet the listings on their own are as severe as those in the listing when considered in the aggregate.
Not Meeting or Equaling a Listing
A Social Security New Rochelle lawyer can explain that if a claimant does not meet or equal a listing, he or she may still be approved for benefits. However, this will require a continuation of the claim under the sequential evaluation process.
Social Media Can Destroy a Disability Claim
A little while ago, I was reminded about an article that I read in the Wall Street Journal in November, 2009 about how a woman lost her Disability benefits when her Long Term Disability Insurance carrier accessed her Facebook postings. Based on photographs of her on a beach during a vacation and celebrating her birthday in a nightclub, the carrier had discontinued her disability benefits. (You can read more about this individual case here.)
News reports of this case cited the LTD insurance carrier, who claimed that while they use Facebook and other social media cites as “checks” of their claimants, they do not rely exclusively on them. Yeah, right!
Even before I read that article I recognized that the persona someone tries to convey in Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and even professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and Plaxo, are not necessarily reflective of what is really going on in that person’s life.
Just today, while reviewing my notes on one of my clients, I remembered that when we first met she had indicated that she was very computer savvy and that she had accounts on a variety of social networking sites. Out of curiosity, I went to two of those sites and discovered that she had never changed her status on the professional site, which indicated that she was still working as a consultant—information that I know for a fact is no longer true. On the social networking site I saw photos of my client smiling and read public posts informing her online friends that she is doing “amazing,” and “great,” and publicly announcing her activities of the day and what’s on her mind.
While I know for a fact from a lengthy discussion with my client’s psychiatrist that my client is not doing amazingly well and that her online ramblings are actually reflective of her mental illness, I also know that if a Long Term Disability carrier’s investigator or a Social Security claims analyst were to Google my client, they might draw the mistaken conclusion that my client is not disabled and should thus have her claim for Disability benefits denied.
While there is nothing that I can do to prevent my clients from using the popular social networking sites, since the popularity of these sites has grown I have encouraged every one of my clients that at the minimum they should check their privacy settings to make sure that the public does not have access to their private information. While this certainly will not prevent someone with malicious intent from accessing information reserved for online friends, it will certainly make it more difficult to access that information. With regards to the professional networking sites, all I can recommend is that people find a way to suspend their account or provide only the bare minimum information. I understand that today’s computer savvy professionals, be they lawyers, health professionals, businesspeople, teachers, social workers or construction workers, all want to maintain online professional networks of colleagues and friends. However, I am deeply concerned that the appearance of being actively involved in a work-like environment can be misconstrued and result in the denial or suspension of disability benefits.
I know that I am very careful with what information I allow my kids to let loose in the cloud of the internet. At this point, I encourage my clients to think the same way about their own information. The key is maintaining close control of private information. When you are either trying to get Disability benefits or are in pay status, there is always someone looking over your shoulder at the pictures you post and the things that you do. All I can say is don’t make it easy for them.
Will substance abuse Affect May Disability Claim?
Don’t Rely on an Internet Post for Instructions on How to Win Your Social Security Disability Claim
A client brought to my attention a recent posting on About.com offering advice by a clinical psychologist on how to file for Social Security Disability benefits.
While it’s certainly great that this clinician is aware of Social Security Disability benefits and recognizes the importance of getting the word out about Social Security Disability benefits as an option, what I find infuriating is that she does not offer anything new. Rather than recommend that disabled people consider speaking to an attorney well versed in the Disability process, she offers generalizations gleaned from what appears to be a quick review of the Social Security website. She lays out the process as simple, fails to mention any of the well known pitfalls common to disability claims, and implies that ‘disabled’ people will be approved. What she completely fails to take into consideration and certainly does not mention to her readers is that a claimant for Social Security disability benefits cannot simply file the claim and then sit back and wait to be approved. It is crucial to contact treating sources and make sure not only that they provide the requested records and opinions, but that those records or opinions are presented in such a way as to lead the Social Security Administration to the logical conclusion that a claimant is disabled.
Attorneys experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims know what the doctors need to focus on when providing their opinions and know how best to present that information to the SSA decision maker. Furthermore, if a hearing is necessary, attorneys who have received advocacy training are much more likely to persuade Judges who might be on the fence over how to interpret certain evidence in the claims record.
Disability benefits can help pay for food, housing or medical care. Not to state the obvious, but If someone needs those benefits, winning is critical. Nobody should rely on an internet post to give them the instructions needed to win a claim – the nuances inherent in every individual’s case make it completely unrealistic to expect a positive result in most cases. If you are disabled, the best way to get help with a claim is to contact an attorney well versed in the Social Security law and process.
How a Disability Attorney in NJ Can Help You Win Your Disability Claim the First Time
The path to earning disability benefits can be time-consuming and stressful, but a disability attorney in NJ may be able to help make the process easier. The fact that getting approval can take so long can be especially stressful when you are depleting your savings as you get through the wait period. Fortunately, there are things you can do that might speed up the process. For example, a lack of information is one of the reasons processing a disability claim can take so long. When the Social Security Administration has to work harder to get your complete medical records, it will likely take longer to process your claim.
Listing Medical Treatment Sources
One way you can try to speed up the processing of your claim is by listing every source of medical treatment on your disability application. Be sure to include the names of all the doctors who have treated you as well as the addresses of all the clinics and hospitals you have been treated by. You should also include the dates you were treated. In order to help ensure that you receive all the benefits you are eligible for, make sure you give Social Security as much information about your medical records as possible. Your attorney may be able to help you collect this information and make sure all your paperwork is clear.
Send Copies of Medical Records
When a disability examiner takes a long time to process a claim, that usually means he or she is waiting on medical records. If you provide copies of your medical records when you submit your disability application, you may be able to drastically reduce the waiting period. Many clinics and hospitals take their time when they are called on for medical records. By getting copies of your medical records ahead of time and sending them in when you submit your disability application, it may be possible to take months off your claim’s processing time. An attorney may provide assistance by helping you keep track of your records.
Call for Updates
Calling occasionally for status updates related to your claim may also speed up the process. A disability examiner might work faster after receiving a call requesting updates. Claimants who call often may have their files prioritized so the examiner will not have to deal with frequent phone calls. Additionally, you can make sure all your paperwork was received if you call for updates. Social Security offices often lose paperwork, leading them to claim they did not receive it in the first place. Calling could alert you to this, making it possible for you to resubmit your paperwork.
Understanding Age and How to Win Disability Benefits
If you are under the age of 50, an important aspect of understanding how to apply for disability in NY is knowing how your age relates to the sedentary work requirement that has been established by the Social Security Administration. This requirement states that claimants who can read and speak English well and who are under the age of 50 must prove that they are unable to perform a wide variety of sedentary work. To perform sedentary work, an individual must be able to:
- engage in periods of standing or walking totaling no more than two hours of a six-hour workday
- lift no more than 10 pounds at a time
- engage in periods of sitting totaling around six hours per eight-hour workday
- have good use of fingers and hands for repetitive hand-finger actions
- engage in the occasional lifting and carrying of items like tools, ledgers and docket files
When it comes to understanding how to win disability when you are under age 50, an effective strategy is to provide evidence that you have functional limitations that prevent you from meeting the above requirements. Such functional limitations could prevent you from performing sedentary work, and they include:
- sitting limitations;
- visual impairments;
- mental impairments;
- standing and walking limitations;
- environmental restrictions;
- and manipulative limitations.
To complete sedentary work, a person should be capable of walking on and off for around two hours of every eight-hour workday. Any significant reduction in this capability will reduce their sedentary occupational base. They must also be able to stoop, which is to bend the body downward and forward by bending the spine at the waist. If you rely on a cane, you may be unable to perform tasks with both hands free. This is problematic as you must be able to retrieve and return objects while standing and walking for around two hours out of an eight-hour workday. Having to use a cane could limit your capability for performing a complete range of sedentary work.
Am I Told Old to Collect Social Security Disability?
10 Common Mistakes Made by Social Security Disability Applicants
Approximately 30 percent of disability applications are denied immediately for technical reasons. Fewer than half of the applications submitted are approved. Many denied applications can be transformed into approvals with guidance from a Danbury disability attorney.
Your application for disability benefits may be denied if you make any of these common mistakes:
- You try to handle your claim by yourself. The process of applying for and defending your Social Security application can be complicated. It involves a complex interaction of regulations and laws. A knowledgeable disability lawyer can help you navigate the process of obtaining disability benefits.
- You do not seek any medical treatment. Your description of symptoms is not enough to prove that you have a medical impairment that is severe. You must have verifiable medical evidence from licensed medical providers who have completed acceptable medical tests on you. The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider all medical evidence, no matter how old it is. You need to prove when your condition started as well as how severe it is. This can only be done with significant medical evidence that shows the progression of your impairment as well as how it has responded to medical treatment.
- You do not seek the right kind of medical treatment. You must seek treatment from a licensed medical provider as well as show objective evidence of a severe impairment. A licensed medical provider includes a medical doctor, psychiatrist, specialist, or any other doctor with a medical license. People without actual medical licenses, such as acupuncturists and chiropractors, do not carry weight with the SSA. You must also submit objective medical evidence, such as tests and laboratory blood work. MRIs, x-rays, and mental exams are all objective tests. Thus, you must seek medical treatment that is verifiable and objective in nature.
- You do not comply with medical treatment. Your doctor will assess your conditions, then prescribe medications and/or conduct procedures in an attempt to make you better. If you do not take those medications as prescribed, or you refuse treatment, you are not showing that your condition is lasting. In fact, your condition may get better if you comply with the doctor’s instructions. It is essential that your medical evidence shows that you have attempted to recover, but that your condition has endured.
- You are able to work. You must be unable to perform substantial gainful activity in order to be eligible for disability benefits. This does not mean you cannot work at all, but if you earn more than a specified amount each month, you may be disqualified from obtaining benefits. Similarly, if you volunteer or have hobbies that evidence your ability to work, you may be disqualified. If you are able to do any work whatsoever, you should consult with a knowledgeable Danbury disability attorney to find out if you may still qualify for disability benefits. Sometimes an applicant genuinely cannot work, but simply fails to provide a complete picture of how his or her impairment affects the ability to work. A disability attorney can offer tips for completing your application and testifying at your hearing so that the true extent of your disability is revealed. Letters and testimony from witnesses and a written opinion from your doctor may also assist.
- Your condition is not expected to last for at least one year. In addition to having an impairment that prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity, your condition must last or be expected to last for at least one year, or to result in death. If you have a short-term condition that is expected to resolve in less than 12 months, you may not qualify for disability benefits. Only verifiable medical evidence can prove that your condition is expected to endure at least one year. Doctor’s notes will show the onset date of your disability, and standard medical knowledge can prove that your condition will require treatment and prevent you from working for one year. Talk to your doctor about the extent of time your condition is expected to last.
- You are collecting unemployment. One of the requirements for unemployment is that you claim you are able to work, but have been terminated from gainful employment and cannot find further work. Thus, you are categorically denying that you are disabled when you apply for unemployment. It is very difficult to live without any income; however if you are able to obtain any income by claiming you can work, you may be disqualified from disability benefits.
- You miss important deadlines. It is important that you apply for disability benefits as soon as possible. Although SSDI benefits may be applied back to your onset date, SSI benefits are only available from the date you applied. After that, each step of the application process has significant deadlines. If your application is denied initially, you have a certain amount of time to appeal. A Danbury disability attorney can help you meet those deadlines with the appropriate evidence.
- You don’t appeal if your application is initially denied. Many disabled applicants simply give up too soon. Failing to appeal is one of the biggest mistakes an applicant can make. When you appeal, you can submit additional evidence to strengthen your claim. You are also entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge where you can tell you story and explain exactly how your impairment affects you and why you cannot work. A hearing gives you the best chance of success.
- You don’t hire a lawyer because you think you can’t afford to. Being unable to earn an income can be daunting. You likely have mounting medical costs, past due bills, and the last thing you want is legal fees. A disability attorney understands that you are unable to work. He or she will help you find resources in your community, and will not charge a fee for legal services unless and until you recover money from the SSA. Do not delay in seeking legal assistance because you think you cannot afford it. Call us today to find out how we can help you immediately.
Our Danbury disability attorneys are familiar with the common mistakes that people make when applying for disability benefits. They also know how to avoid them. If you need to apply or have already applied for disability, call the Hermann Law Group at 877-773-3030. Let us deal with the legal issues while you focus on maintaining your health.
Approval After a case is approved at any level, it is transferred to a Social Security Payment Center, where calculations are made of your retroactive benefits and any auxiliary benefits for your spouse or minor children. Your retroactive payment is usually made approximately 60 days after a favorable decision, and you should receive your explanatory letter (referred to as an “Award Certificate” or “Award Notice”) within two weeks after the payment is made.
At Hermann Law Group, we review the Award Letters thoroughly in order to insure that the Social Security Administration’s calculation of benefits you have received and will receive are accurate. This is an important part of our job, since these notices often contain mistakes, especially when there are Workers’ Compensation claims that may offset your Disability award.
The Social Security Administration prefers that you maintain a bank account for purposes of direct deposits. Initial payments made directly into your bank account are usually 2-3 weeks faster than checks sent by mail. We can help you find a qualified bank or savings account for this purpose.
Make sure that you keep records of all of your communications with Social Security, including the dates and names of people to whom you have spoken. If corresponding by mail, be sure that you send all information via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. This is the best way to prove your compliance with any instructions or rules.
Hermann Law Group PLLC Can Help
Our attorneys have years of experience representing those who are applying for disability. We take cases we believe in and fight our clients. This means talking to doctors, vocational counselors, and ensuring you present the best possible case to the disability board and judges. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help.