Newport Disability Lawyer

ROB LEVINE, NEWPORT DISABILITY LAWYER

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Many people think that Social Security is only for old people who reach retirement age. However, Social Security also pays disability benefits to people who cannot work because they have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death.

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HOW AN EXPERIENCED SOCAIL SECURITY LAWYER CAN HELP

First, let’s discuss Social Security Disability Income, also known as SSDI. In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you must first have worked in jobs in which a portion of your income was being paid to Social Security. In addition to the Social Security income contribution requirements, you must also have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. Social Security defines disability as the total inability to engage in work activity by reason of any medically determinable impairment (physical or mental) which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous 12 months or more. When you are approved, you will receive monthly cash benefits along with Medicare if you are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability, or if your condition is likely to result in death.

If you are disabled and have not paid enough into Social Security to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, then a claim for Supplemental Security Income might be appropriate for you. This program is available to people who have limited income and limited resources. In other words, it’s a need-based program for people with virtually no money coming into the household and no assets.

Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis or you reach retirement age.

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“I want to work…but I’m not sure if I’m ready…”There are a number of special rules, called “work incentives,” that provide continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work. If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same. Work incentives provide protection and motivation to allow you to try to go back to work without worrying about having to go through the Social Security application process again if you are not successful. People with disabilities receiving Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can work and still receive monthly payments and Medicare or Medicaid. One of Social Security’s work incentives is the trial work period. The trial work period (TWP) allows you to test your ability to work for up to nine months. During the TWP, you continue to receive your full disability benefits regardless of how much you earn. In order to take advantage of the TWP, you must continue to have a disabling impairment and you must report the work activity to Social Security. The nine months doesn’t need to be consecutive, but you cannot exceed nine months of work activity within a 60-month time period.Social Security also provides an incentive to return to work by crediting Impairment Related Work Expenses (IRWE). When deciding if you are performing substantial work, Social Security deducts the costs of certain impairment-related expenses that you need in order to work. Impairment-related expenses include the costs of things such as wheelchairs, certain transportation expenses, and specialized work-related equipment.
FAQs About Your

SSDI Case

What is a compassionate allowance?
In order to decrease the decision time for a claim, the SSA has identified a list of conditions that have already met their standards for disability benefits. This initiative was created to help those with serious disabilities by simplifying the process. There are two ways your condition will qualify you for benefits under the CAL Initiative.
  • If you have a listed illness or disease that is the same as listed in the schedule of diseases listed on the SSA website, you may automatically qualify for benefits.
  • If your disability has the same signs and symptoms as a disease listed on the schedule under the CAL Initiative, then you may qualify for benefits as well.
 
Can I receive SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time?
In order to receive concurrent benefits, there are going to be two separate tests. The standard to receive benefits medically is the same in both programs. The difference between the two programs is your work history and income level. In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have worked for the last five years and paid into the Social Security system. If you qualify for SSDI and your monthly compensation is less than the maximum amount, currently $783, you could be eligible under the SSI program. Remember, you must qualify for each one individually. In order to qualify for SSI, you must not have income greater than the maximum nor can your net worth be greater than $3,000. This looks at both your income and your household income. For example, if you were receiving $500 for SSDI, you could qualify for $283 under the SSI program.
Why do I need a lawyer to help me apply for SSDI?
Hiring an attorney to help you with your Social Security Disability application is beneficial as it can decrease the length of time it takes for you to get an approval. Their experience in these cases allows them to know what information and documentation you need to receive the maximum amount of benefits.
What happens if my SSDI claim has been denied?
There are two reasons for the denial. The first is that the SSA indicates that you are not qualified for either the SSDI or the SSI program, or both. This is based on your work history, your household income, and your net worth. Generally, unless you believe they are making an error as to what you paid into the social security system or your income level, this is not something that attorneys generally appeal. The second is that the SSA determines that you are not medically qualified for benefits--meaning they believe that you are able to perform gainful employment or your medical condition doesn't qualify. This could be grounds for appeal.  There are four levels of appeal at the administrative or agency level. In order of application, you begin by filing an initial claim. You then file for reconsideration, you then go before an administrative law judge for a hearing, and finally, you can appeal the administrative law judge's decision before the appeals council. You can be approved or denied at any of those four levels. After you have exhausted all four agency levels, you can either start your application over and remain at the administrative level by filing a new initial claim. Or, you can file an appeal by the appeals counsel leaving the agency level and appealing to the federal district court.  
If I don’t have enough work history, or any at all, can I still receive benefits?
Although you may not be able to receive SSDI benefits, you can still apply for Supplemental Security Insurance. Since this is a program based on financial need, you can qualify for these benefits if you do not exceed the Social Security Administration’s limit for income and/or assets.

Win Your Social Security Disability Claim If you’re one of the 8.6 million American workers who are unable to work because of a physical or psychological condition, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income.
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