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Social Security Claims

The average American may think of becoming disabled as something that will never happen to them, or something that only happens to the elderly. In reality, injuries and serious illness can happen at any age, and at any time. According to the Social Security Administration, a 20 year-old worker has a 1 in 4 chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age. People who cannot work for at least a year because of a disabling physical or mental medical condition are eligible for Social Security disability payments. Certain family members supported by the recipient may also be eligible. Disability can have an enormous financial impact on the life of an individual and their family, and Social Security disability payments can make a significant difference in restoring financial security and peace of mind. Therefore, it is important to understand the types of benefits available and how an experienced legal team can help you navigate the complex claim system.

Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income

Security taxes (FICA) and is available to individuals (and some family members) based on their work history and payment of FICA taxes through their jobs. Supplemental Security Income is offered to adults and children with limited financial resources, and is not funded through FICA.

What Kind of Medical Conditions Cause Disability?

Physical and/or mental medical conditions that prevent a person from working at their former job, or a job with different requirements, for at least a year can be eligible for Social Security Disability payments. According to a report analyzing data from Social Security Disability Insurance recipients in 2018, the most common medical conditions were:

  • Musculoskeletal Disorders (non-healing fractures, amputation)
  • Mood Disorders (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Nervous System and Sense Organ Disorders (epilepsy, multiple sclerosis)
  • Intellectual Disabilities (Down’s Syndrome, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome)
  • Circulatory System Disorders (chronic heart failure, congenital heart disease)
  • Schizophrenic and other Psychotic Disorders (schizophrenia, delusional disorder)
  • Other Mental Disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorders)
  • Injuries (bone, muscle, and nerve injuries)
  • Organic Mental Disorders (dementia, Alzheimer’s)
  • Neoplasms (tumors)

Although these categories list the most common reasons beneficiaries receive Social Security disability payments, there are more than 200 conditions that can qualify. Some severe conditions allow for fast-tracked payments for people who suffer from cancers, ALS, and early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease for example.

How do I know if I am eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

The Social Security Administration has five criteria defining requirements for disability payments. 1) You are not currently working, or if you are working your earnings are less than $1350 (or $2260 if you are blind); 2) Your condition severely limits you from performing work-related tasks; 3) your condition is on the list of qualifying disabling conditions; 4) you cannot do the work you did previously; 5) you cannot do another kind of work. Unlike some state disability benefit programs or programs for veterans, Social Security does not provide payments for partial disability.

You must also have a recent work history and worked enough to earn 40 work credits under Social Security. While working and paying FICA taxes, a worker earns a maximum of four credits per year. A beneficiary needs to have accumulated 20 work credits in the 10 years before they became disabled. However, younger workers can still qualify if they have worked less and have fewer credits.

If I become disabled, can Social Security disability payments benefit my family?

When a worker loses earnings after becoming disabled, it can have a profound impact on the ability to provide for their family. Family members may qualify to receive Social Security benefits, up to a certain amount. Your spouse is eligible for benefits if they are age 62 or over, or at any age if they are caring for a child under age 16. If your spouse is caring for a child who became disabled before age 22, they are also eligible for benefits. Your ex-spouse could receive benefits if they are over the age of 62, were married to you for at least 10 years, are currently unmarried, and not receiving a Social Security payment from someone else.

Your children are also eligible to receive Social Security disability payments if they are 1) not married, 2) under the age of 18, 3) age 18-19 and enrolled in school up to grade 12. If your child has a disability that began before they were age 22, and you are receiving retirement or disability payments, they may be eligible for payments as well.

What if my Social Security disability claim is denied?

If the Social Security Administration is not convinced that you are eligible for benefits, they can deny your claim. If that happens, there is a 60-day period to file an appeal. If an appeal is not made in this time period, you may lose your right to appeal if there are not extenuating circumstances. There are three levels of appeal – reconsideration, a hearing, and a review by the Social Security’s Appeal Council. When applying for Social Security disability, it’s best to get expert legal advice so that your application has the best chance of approval the first time. If your application is denied, a legal expert will be able to help your strengthen your claim and then present your case for the appeal in order for the claim to be approved.

What is the first step when applying for Social Security disability benefits?

Applying for Social Security disability can be a complex and confusing process. If you are dealing with your own recent illness or injury, or that of a family member, you are already under considerable stress and financial hardship. In spite of your best efforts, your application may have omissions and mistakes which may lead to your benefits being denied. If you have already applied and been turned down for benefits, facing an appeals process may be intimidating. Your next step should be to consult a professional legal team who are experts in the Social Security disability benefits system and will help you get the benefits you and your family deserve. online today for a free initial consultation.