Did you know that if you have paid Social Security taxes you may be entitled to receive federal government disability benefits and Medicare before age 62?
Did you know that if you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, it can take up to 2 1/2 years to get benefits?
Did you know that with a social security disability lawyer, you can significantly increase the probability of receiving the benefits you deserve and may be able to speed up the process?
The Purpose of Social Security Disability Benefits
Disability is something most people don’t like to think about. The chances of your becoming disabled are probably greater than you realize. In fact, studies show that one out of four young workers will become disabled some time during his or her lifetime. While most people spend time working to succeed in their jobs and careers, few think about ensuring that they have a safety net to fall back on should the unthinkable happen. This is where Social Security comes in. The Social Security Administration pays cash benefits to people who are unable to perform gainful employment for a year or more because of a disability. Benefits continue until a person is able to work again on a regular basis, and a number of work incentives are available to ease the transition back to work.
The Social Security Disability Process
The Social Security disability process is one that is highly technical and unlike other courtroom proceedings in that it is an administrative procedure that is wide open to the interpretation of many Social Security Administration employees. Perhaps the single most important factor relevant to being approved for disability benefits is the accumulation of medical records. Seeking and following medical treatment for the conditions that prevent the claimant from working is at the heart of the process of proving eligibility for benefits. But, even the most thoroughly documented medical record may not result in a claimant receiving benefits.
Many people think that the disability process is a medical decision, but in reality it is a legal decision arising from medical information in a claimant’s medical history. The interpretation of that medical history and how it’s applied to the Social Security regulations is how a person is determined to be disabled.
Currently, the Social Security disability process is undergoing changes nationwide. Factors that influence the legal finding of disability are the claimant’s age, education, work experience, compliance with medical treatment, daily activities and kinds and extent of treatment.
How Disability Is Determined
You should be familiar with the process used to determine if you are disabled. It’s a step-by-step process involving five questions. They are:
1. Are you working? If you are and your earnings average more than $780 a month in 2002 or $800 a month in 2003, you generally cannot be considered disabled.
2. Is your condition severe? Your impairments must interfere with basic work-related activities for your claim to be considered.
3. Is your condition found in the list of disabling impairments? The Social Security Administration maintains a list of impairments for each of the major body systems that are so severe they automatically mean you are disabled. If your condition is not on the list, the SSA has to decide if it is of equal severity to impairment on the list. If it is, your claim is approved. If it is not, you must go to the next step.
4. Can you do the work you did previously? If your condition is severe, but not at the same or equal severity as impairment on the list, then the SSA must determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did in the last 15 years. If it does not, your claim will be denied. If it does, your claim will be considered further.
5. Can you do any other type of work? If you cannot do the work you did in the last 15 years, the SSA then looks to see if you can do any other type of work. The SSA considers your age, education, past work experience, and transferable skills, and reviews the job demands of occupations as determined by the Department of Labor. If you cannot do any other kind of work, your claim will be approved. If you can, your claim will be denied.
Statute of Limitations
You need to know that the law allows only a limited period of time for social security disability claims to be brought and a social security disability lawyer can help you determine how much time you have left. If you do not have your claim filed within the time provided by law, it may be thrown out and you may be denied your benefits.
You should apply at any Social Security office as soon as you become disabled. (You may file by phone, mail, or by visiting the nearest office.) Your disability attorney may help you properly file your claim. However, Social Security disability benefits will not begin until the sixth full month of disability. This “waiting period” begins with the first full month after the date the Social Security Administration decides your disability began.
Additional Social Security Disability Law Updates and questions concerning SSI-Disabillity can be answered by our office.