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April 11, 2013

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance




Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program which helps you if you become disabled. The government will send you cash payments on a monthly basis for the period f time that you are unable to work due to your disability. If your disability lasts into retirement, your disability payment will become your retirement payment.

Qualifications:
Disability determination is based on three factors. First, you must be unable to do the the job you were doing before your injury illness. Second, you must be unable to do other jobs due to your injury or illness. And finally, your disability must last, or be expected to last, for at least one year or be expected to result in your death. Benefits are only given for long term disabilities.

To receive benefits, in addition to being to be disabled, you must have also worked in positions covered by social security for a minimum period of time. The social security office also uses work credits to determine whether or not you qualify under SSDI. Work credits are based on how much you make per year. The amount needed for each work credit changes every year, but you cannot receive more than four credits per year. In determining how many work credits a person needs, the social security office looks at the person's age at the time of filing.

Applying:
The application for disability benefits is made up of three parts: the disability application, a disability report and an authorization form. The disability application looks at whether you meet the basic qualifications, as discussed above. The disability report asks questions regarding health. This is where you will need to list medical information such as your medications and treatments as well as contact information for any medical professionals you have seen in relation to your illness. It also asks about your work history. You will need to give details regarding any positions you held for at least the previous five years. Necessary information includes contact information for your employers, draws of employment, wages during employment and description of duties. The authorization form, is a short form that gives the social security office permission to speak to necessary persons such as previous and current doctors and employers. This is necessary so they can make sure your application is correct and complete and make an accurate disability determination. You may complete your entire application online, over the phone or in person at your local social security office.

It is important to start the your disability application as soon as you believe you make qualify. On average, it takes three to five months for a decision to be made regarding benefits. And often, cases are denied and need to be appealed, making the process last even longer. You are allowed to have help throughout the application and determination process and an experienced attorney familiar with the necessary information can be a great asset. If you are think about applying for disability benefits, you should contact an experienced disability attorney.

See Related Posts:
Top Four Reasons SSD Claims Are Denied
The Appeals Process

April 26, 2012

SSI Disability and Your Assets





Are you wondering if your assets will matter when you file your Social Security disability claim? Well, it depends on which Social Security disability program you're going to apply for: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSI is a need-based program, so your income and assets will be evaluated when you file your claim. On the other hand, SSDI benefits are based on having worked for a minimum period of time and having paid a minimum amount of cash into the system (typically through payroll check deductions). In other words, the availability of SSDI benefits is based on whether you earned a sufficient number of work credits over the last several years. When you apply for SSDI, your assets aren't considered an issue, so there is no limit to the amount of resources or cash you have.

SSDI benefits are considered by the government to be a form of social insurance, so they have a number of features similar to private insurance plans. For example, the SSDI program has something similar to an elimination period, except it's called a five month waiting period. SSDI benefits are paid on the sixth full month after the date your disability began - you're not entitled to benefits during the waiting period.

If you become disabled and you're not insured for SSDI, you can apply for SSI. To be eligible for the SSI program, however, you must have a low income and few assets. If you have substantial assets, you will not qualify for SSI benefits. Currently, the asset limit for SSI applicants is $2000 in countable assets. If the claimant is married, the asset limit is $3000. Countable assets include the following:


  • Fair market value of vehicles other than your primary vehicle

  • Balances in savings accounts

  • Excess burial plots

  • Excess property

  • Revocable trusts

  • Cash value in life insurance policies (over $1,500)

  • Stocks and bonds

  • Household goods and personal effects (over $2,000)


The Social Security Administration (SSA) will count these assets against you if you apply for SSI benefits. If you're over the asset limit, the SSA won't fully evaluate your application to determine whether you're medically eligible - you'll simply get a "technical denial" of benefits. Assets that aren't countable include your primary home, primary vehicle, irrevocable trusts, burial plot, and checking account balances you use to pay the bills.

Have Any Questions about the Asset Limit?

If you aren't sure whether or not you're over the asset limit, set up a free consultation with Atlanta Social Security disability lawyer Louis B. Lusk. We'll evaluate your claim and determine whether you should apply for SSI, SSDI or both. Call (800) 883-7043 or fill out our online contact form to get in touch.

December 5, 2011

Job Classifications in Social Security Disability Cases




In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you have to prove to the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you're unable to perform any type of job that's available in the current economy. The SSA classifies jobs based on the amount of skill that is required to perform them. The SSA divides work into three categories: unskilled labor, semi-skilled labor, and skilled labor.

Unskilled Labor

Unskilled labor is the least complex type of work and can be performed with little to no previously acquired skills. People can typically learn how to perform unskilled labor in 30 days or less. Examples of unskilled jobs include restaurant dishwasher, surveillance system monitor, clerk/typist, and hand packer.

Semi-Skilled Labor

Semi-skilled labor is more complex than unskilled labor. Semi-skilled jobs take more than 30 days to learn and require alertness and attention. A job is considered semi-skilled if it requires you to have coordination or dexterity. Examples of semi-skilled jobs include truck driver, carpenter, waitress, and control inspector.

Skilled Labor

Skilled labor is far more complex than unskilled or semi-skilled labor. Skilled jobs require you to think abstractly, process information, deal with figures, deal with people, make computations, and make precise measurements, among other tasks. Years of training and education are often required to perform skilled labor. Examples of skilled jobs include engineer, pilot, doctor, teacher, architect, CEO of a business, and computer programmer.

Why Job Classification is Important

Job classification is important because the SSA uses it to determine whether you're still capable of working. If you're unable to perform the job you preformed in the past because of a disability, the SSA will use the sequential evaluation process to determine whether you'd be able to perform a new job. During the sequential evaluation process, the SSA reviews the types of jobs you performed in the past to determine if you have any transferable skills, which are skills that can be transferred to a new job. If the SSA decides that you can be trained for a new job based on your physical and mental health condition, educational background, job skills, and age, you will not qualify for disability benefits. On the other hand, if the SSA determines that you're unable to perform a new job based on your physical and mental health condition, age, educational background, and work history, you will be approved for disability benefits.

Different rules apply for claimants who are 55 years old or older. Claimants who are 55 years old or older and have a severe disability that limits them to doing light or sedentary work will be considered unable to perform other jobs unless they have skills that are transferable to other skilled or semi-skilled jobs that they are still capable of performing. Claimants who are 55 years old or older and have an impairment that limits them to doing only sedentary work are typically found by the SSA to have no transferable skills unless the sedentary work is very similar to their previous work.

Find out If You Qualify for Social Security Disability

If you're planning to apply for Social Security disability benefits, set up a free evaluation with Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk. Please call 800.883.7043 (or 404.250.7000) or fill out our online contact form to get in touch.

November 17, 2011

Applying for Social Security Disability While Working




Many people with physical impairments or chronic illnesses are capable of working a few hours per day or a few hours per week. If you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to hold down a full-time job and you're thinking about applying for Social Security disability benefits, you may be wondering if it's possible to work while applying for benefits.

If you're under the age of 55 and have a part-time job, the Social Security Administration (SSA) may assume that you're also capable of working full-time and thus deny your application. If you're over the age of 55 and have a part-time job, you are likely to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Regardless of your age, to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, your monthly income must not exceed the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount, which is $1,000 per month as of 2011. Keep in mind that any rent payments you receive for properties you own and interest and dividends from savings accounts and stocks also count as income.

Some people try to limit their earnings in order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, but their efforts often backfire. This is because the Social Security Administration (SSA) usually figures it out when applicants deliberately limit their income.

Here are two important questions to answer if you're considering applying for disability benefits:

1. If you have a job, can you perform the work five days a week, eight hours a day on a sustained basis?
2. If you're looking for a job, are there a sufficient amount of jobs that you're capable of performing in your area?

If your answer to either question is no, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

Speak with Your Doctor

Discuss your limitations with your doctor before applying for jobs. If your physician suggests that you're not fit to return to work at this point in time, develop a plan with him to determine what treatments you'll need to be able to start working again. Limit your employment based on your abilities, not the SGA limit. If your attempts to return to work fail, talk to your doctor, so your treatment can be adjusted. If you've taken every possible step to return to work but find that you aren't capable of working full-time anymore, then apply for Social Security disability benefits. Doctors are generally more inclined to support a disability claim when they see that the patient has made a significant effort to continue working.

It's also important to note that employment attempts that last six months or less and end because of a disability are considered unsuccessful work attempts by the SSA, even if the earnings exceed the SGA amount. However, if an applicant's work attempt lasts longer than six months and he earns more than $1000 per month, the SSA will conclude that he is capable of performing work at the substantial level.

Want to Apply for Social Security Disability While Working?

Talk with a Social Security disability lawyer to find out how your income will affect your Social Security disability application. If you have a part-time job, a Social Security disability attorney can ensure that your job won't harm your disability claim. For a free evaluation, give Atlanta disability attorney Louis B. Lusk a call at 800.883.7043 (or 404.250.7000) or fill out our online contact form.

August 30, 2011

Social Security Disability: Can You Get Both SSI and SSDI?





Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) are two Social Security Administration (SSA) programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. Only individuals who have a disability and meet certain medical criteria are eligible to receive benefits from the SSI or SSDI program.

The primary difference between these two programs is that the SSI program is financed through general revenues from taxes and is not based on your work history. The SSI program provides benefits to adults who are disabled or blind, children who are disabled or blind, and elderly people over the age of 65. In order to be eligible for SSI benefits, an individual must have limited income and resources. On the other hand, the SSDI program is financed with Social Security taxes. In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, a worker must earn sufficient credits based on taxable work. If you have limited income and resources and have worked and paid Social Security taxes in the past, you may be eligible to receive benefits from both programs.

How the SSA Determines Whether You Qualify for Benefits

The SSA determines whether you qualify for the SSI or SSDI program by evaluating your resources, work history, and income. The SSA also examines your medical condition to see if you meet their definition of disability. In order for the SSA to consider you disabled, you must be unable to do the work that you did in the past and unable to adjust to other types of work because of your medical condition. In addition, your disability must last or be expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.

If you have enough work credits, apply for the SSDI program. The amount of monthly SSDI payments is based on your payroll contribution. If you don't have enough work credits and have limited income and resources, apply for the SSI program. The only way you can receive both SSI and SSDI benefits is if your SSDI benefits are less than the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR) for SSI payments. As of 2011, the FBR for SSI payments is $674 per month for an eligible individual and $1,011 per month for an eligible individual with an eligible spouse.

That means if you receive $800 per month from the SSDI program, you will not be eligible for SSI payments since you're already receiving more than the FBR. But if you receive only $500 month from the SSDI program and you're also eligible for the SSI program, you may receive an additional $174 per month to bring the payment amount up to the FBR.

Need Help Applying for SSI and/or SSDI?

If you're not sure whether you qualify for both SSI and SSDI payments or need help with your application, Atlanta Social Security disability attorney Louis B. Lusk can help. Please call 800.883.7043 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free evaluation.

July 27, 2011

Social Security Disability and Work Credits




In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration's (SSA's) definition of being disabled and have worked and paid Social Security taxes. The SSA uses a work credit system to determine how much work you did in the past and whether or not you qualify for benefits. The work credits you earn are based on the amount of your wages and self-employment income during the year, regardless of when you did the work.

As of 2011, you receive one credit per $1,120 of earnings and are eligible to receive up to four credits per year. The amount one needs to earn to receive credits increases slightly each year in accordance with average earnings levels. Even if you change jobs or become unemployed, the credits stay on your Social Security record.

The Amount of Credits You Need for Disability Benefits

The number of work credits you need to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits depends on the age you become disabled. Typically, claimants need around 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the 10 year period ending when their disability started. Younger workers don't need as many credits.

Claimants under the age of 24 may qualify for benefits if they have six credits that were earned in the three year period ending when their disability started. Claimants between the ages of 24 and 31 may qualify for benefits if they have credit for working half of the time between the age of 21 and the time they became disabled. Claimants who are at the age of 31 or older must have earned at least 20 of their credits in the 10 years immediately prior to becoming disabled.

What to Do If You Don't Have Enough Work Credits

If you don't have enough work credits and you have limited income and resources, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, which is need-based. For the majority, the medical requirements for disability payments under the SSI program are the same as they are under the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program.

Schedule a Free Evaluation

If you aren't sure whether you have enough work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits or you'd like help with your application, please call 800.883.7043 or fill out our online contact form to set up a free evaluation.

May 31, 2011

Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits




It might seem strange to work while receiving Social Security Disability benefits since the program is meant to provide financial aid to those who are unable to hold down a job because of a disability. However, many people who receive Social Security Disability benefits are still capable of working and often feel a desire to work.

There are many benefits to working while receiving Social Security Disability payments. For one, working helps to supplement monthly payments. It also has the power to uplift your spirit and alleviate the depression and loneliness often associated with having a disability.

Many people who receive Social Security Disability benefits worry that their benefits will be taken away from them if they get a job. However, the truth is that the SSA allows people receiving benefits to work, as long as their pre-tax earnings stay below a certain amount.

Work Incentive Programs

The SSA offers two work incentive programs. The Ticket to Work program provides vocational rehabilitation, skills training, job referrals, and other types of support free of charge. The Work Incentives Planning and Assistance (WIPA) program provides information about the SSA's work incentives and assists those who are receiving benefits and working or considering work. Assistance from the WIPA program is offered through community-based organizations, so you have to contact the SSA to find the WIPA project closest to you.

Trial Work Period

The trial work period allows Social Security Disability beneficiaries to work for at least nine months out of a consecutive 60-month period. You're considered to have worked one trial work month in any month in which your earnings are over $720. If you are self-employed, a trial work month is any month in which your earnings exceed $720 or you spend more than 80 hours in your business.

After the trial work period, you have 36 months during which you can work and still receive benefits on months when you're earnings aren't "substantial." In 2011, earnings over $1,000 ($1,640 if you are blind) are considered substantial. You do not have to reapply for benefits during this period, which is called the extended eligibility period.

If your earnings are substantial and your benefits stop, you will have five years to restart your benefits immediately if you stop working because of your medical condition. During this period, you will be able to get your benefits back without having to file a new disability application. Furthermore, you will not have to wait for the benefits to start while your medical condition is being reviewed.

Have Any Questions or Concerns about Working While Receiving Disability Benefits?

If you need to apply for Social Security Disability but would like to continue working while you receive benefits, please fill out our online contact form to request a free evaluation.

July 7, 2010

Work Credits Needed for Social Security Disability




Work Credits Explained

Whether or not a claimant meets the medical disability listing set out by the Social Security Administration (SSA), to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits (under title II) the applicant must have earned a sufficient number of work credits in the years leading up to their disability. The amount of income required to earn a work credit changes from year to year, but in 2010 a worker can earn one work credit for every $1,120 in taxable income--capping out at four credits per year. In order to earn credits on income, the claimant must have paid Social Security taxes on that income.

The number of work credits required to claim disability is not the same for every claimant, and it depends heavily on your age at the time of disability. What claimants must also consider is that work credits must typically be earned within a recent timeframe. The following is a breakdown of the credits required for claimants at a variety of ages:

• Age 23 or younger - Claimants are required to have at least 6 work credits, all earned within the 3 year period leading up to your disability.
• Between ages 24 and 31 - To qualify, work credits earned since the age of 21 should amount to half-time employment. For instance, a worker that becomes disabled 4 working years after age 21 (age 25) will require work credits totaling the equivalent of 2 years of full-time work (8 credits).
• Over the age of 31 - Eligible claimants are required to have at least 20 work credits earned within the 10 years leading up to the disability. As the claimant's age increases, so does the number of required work credits. By age 62, claimant's will need a total of 40 work credits.

Blind claimants, or those with low vision, have different work credit requirements. Their work credits may be accumulated over the course of all of their working years, and credits may still be earned for work performed even after becoming blind. If vision impaired claimants still do not meet the work credit requirements, they may sometimes acquire benefits using the work credits of a parent or spouse.

If you are unsure about your work credits, or whether your credits are sufficient to be eligible for disability benefits, talk to your disability lawyer. Experienced disability lawyers will be able to help you determine how many work credits you have earned, in what time frame, and whether or not your credits make you eligible for benefits.