Social Security Disability
If you have been unable to work due to an illness or injury, you might consider applying for Social Security Disability benefits. The Social Security and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and only individuals who have a disability and meet medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
In the most general terms, an applicant must be able to prove that he or she has a medically determinable medical impairment that precludes the ability to perform any substantial gainful activity available in the national economy for a period that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least twelve months.
Under the federal Social Security Disability Act, “disability” means the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Social Security Disability benefits (SSD) are paid to individuals who have worked in the recent years. Usually you have to work 5 out of the last 10 years. For individuals under 31 years old, the requirements are a little different since they have not been in the work force as long. Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) are paid to individuals who are low income individuals/families and disabled whether or not the individual has worked in the past. SSI child’s disability benefits are paid to children who are under 18 years old, are disabled and the parents or guardian are of lower income.
Eligibility for Social Security Disability Benefits
If you work long enough at a job which is covered under the provisions of the Social Security Act, and become disabled, you are probably eligible for disability benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, a disability can be physical, or emotional, or some combination of both. In order to win benefits, you must have a disability severe enough to keep you from working in any regular paying job for at least 12 consecutive months. The test for eligibility is not whether you can go back to a job you’ve lost. Nor is it whether you’ve been able to find a job recently. The test is whether you are physically and emotionally capable of doing a job that is generally available in the every day work place.
Furthermore, to obtain Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a doctor state that you are disabled “by medically acceptable clinical and laboratory findings”. Unfortunately, many genuinely disabling conditions are difficult to diagnose by objective testing. In cases like that, it’s up to your representative or legal help to present your doctor’s reports properly, and to convince the government that you deserve your benefits.
Applying for Benefits
By law, anyone may file for his or her own Social Security Disability benefits. But statistics clearly show that claimants who have representation win their benefits much more often than those who apply on their own. Also it is important to understand that the government makes the process very difficult. Waiting lines are long. Forms are complicated. Benefits are often denied to people who have legitimate claims. And not just once; frequently twice. Sometimes more often. As a result, many people who apply on their own become discouraged and intimidated. So they simply back off, give up, and go away, even when they are genuinely entitled to their benefits. The amount of benefits received is determined by how much money you made when you worked.
If your disability is expected to last for at least a year you should apply for your social security disability benefits immediately. Many people make the mistake of waiting months and some even years after becoming disabled before filing a their Social Security disability claim.
If you were employed five out of the last 10 years under Social Security before becoming disabled, you will have enough earnings in to potentially qualify for Social Security disability benefits. If you are 31 years of age or less, the requirements are not the same, since such individuals have not had such a long time to work. Unless a person has been staying home and taking care of their children for quite a long time, however, it is very possible that they will qualify for Social Security disability benefits based upon their own earnings. Also a homemaker, if poor enough, can qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) whether he or she has worked in the past or not. Lastly, if it is proved that your disability began before you elected to retire you may be eligible to collect differential Security Disability Benefits or SSI.
Learning disability and other psychological conditions may be covered depending on your individual situation and circumstances. You do not have to be permanently disabled to get Social Security Disability Benefits. If you are disabled for a minimum of a year or more you can qualify. The longer you are not able to work because of your disability the longer you may receive social security disability and/or SSI benefits. It all depends on the individual’s circumstance.
Restrictions and Limitations on Benefits
You can work and receive social security benefits so long as you work at a much-reduced schedule. Generally dependent children under 18, and those who still attend high school are entitled to social security disability benefits. You may be entitled to more Social Security Benefits than you are currently receiving but you cannot get more money unless your monthly rate is below the federal poverty line. Your Social Security Disability Benefits will be paid to you only until you are no longer disabled or you return to work.
In California, generally, you cannot receive Social Security Disability benefits and workers’ compensation benefits at the same time, without there being an off-set of your social security disability benefits. Generally speaking, the amount of your social security disability benefits will be decreased by the amount of money you are collecting under workers’ compensation. However, there may be exceptions to this rule, especially for those who had high earnings when they worked.
When applying for Social Security Disability benefits, please be aware that most claims are initially denied. We can help you to appeal your case. Moreover, we can represent you in a hearing before an administrative law judge, who hears social security appeals. You have the right to have an attorney represent you in your Social Security Disability case. According to various studies, claimants who have legal representation have had more success in being awarded social security disability benefits than applicants without legal representation. No fee is collected by us, unless we win your social security disability case.
Please see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section of our website for further information on the California workers’ compensation system and the benefits to injured workers, provided under the California workers’ compensation laws.
For further information and a free consultation , please contact us: (818) 981-9960.