January 2019

 

Social Security Disability Newsletter

 


Frequently Asked Questions
to Start 2019!

Navigating a disability claim for your client can be daunting. These are some of the most frequent questions we are asked when people call or email us.


 

What does it mean to be “totally disabled”?

To qualify for SSDI or SSI bene ts, you must be able to prove that the medical symptoms so impact function that for a period that has lasted, or is expected to last, 12 months or result in death, you are unable to function in any full-time work available in the national economy. The focus is not on the diagnosis, but on whether it can be proven that the symptoms make it impossible to function in any work setting.

SSDI and SSI – What are the differences?

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) benefits are for people who are totally disabled and who have paid into the FICA tax system through their work for enough quarters. Since you “bought” this insurance by working, your other assets or family income are not considered. SSI (Supplemental Security Income) bene ts are for people who are totally disabled and otherwise would have difficulty paying for food and shelter. SSI is “means-tested” so a claimant’s assets and income make a difference.

I must pay rent – can I work and apply at the same time?

This answer is a bit more complex. In 2019, “substantial gainful activity” (work) is de ned as full or part-time activity that generates $1,220 gross income in a month. You must have at least 12 consecutive months where you do not have a single month of gross earnings greater than $1,220 in a month. If you are earning less than that amount many ALJs (but not all) will not consider the activity significant. We often suggest that claimants who want to work keep their gross earnings around $800/month.

What is proof of my disability?I know I can’t work!

These are medical cases and are based upon the medical records of the treating medical specialists. Social Security will make these decisions by focusing on what your doctors are writing down while you are in their office – that is the primary proof in any disability case.

Why does it take so long to get a hearing and decision?

There are a number of factors contributing to the delays. First is that Congress has refused to fully fund the operations of the Social Security Administration. For years, Congress has cut the administrative budget despite funding needs increasing. Second, more people are applying for retirement, disability and survivors’ bene ts. Third, in the disability program, much is dependent on getting medical records from hospitals, clinics and doctor offices and that takes time.

Do you have other Questions?

Please let us know. As your local source for support on Social Security disability issues, we can provide the information to help you assist clients, families and friends. We would be glad to come to your office or community group to talk about these issues. Calls and emails are welcome.

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Disability news blogWe wish all the people who work with us and our clients a Happy and Healthy 2019! Do not hesitate to call us if we can help you and your family!

Trainings available
at your location

We continue to conduct our trainings at agencies throughout our community. If you would like us to come meet with your staff to discuss Social Security’s programs and operations, and how to more effectively help clients, please give us a call and we would be happy to schedule in-service trainings for no fees.

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