Social Security disability benefits can provide a vital lifeline to disabled individuals in Texas and across the nation who are unable to care for themselves or their family because of their disability. As a result, disabled individuals should understand how to qualify for, and apply for, Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the disabled individual must suffer from a disabling medical condition that is severe enough that it prevents them from working. They must be unable to perform any type of work. In addition, the disabling medical condition must be expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death. Certain medical conditions are included on the Social Security Administration's list of disabling medical conditions but even if the disabled individual's medical condition is not the list, they may be able to establish their disability through their medical records.
Overall, as part of an application for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will consider the disabled applicant's age, education, work history and medical condition to determine if they qualify for SSD benefits. It is important for disabled applicants to carefully maintain their medical records, since these records may need to be included in their application for benefits.
Unfortunately, many claims for Social Security disability benefits are initially denied, so it is essential for disabled individuals to be familiar with how to apply for SSD benefits. Social Security disability benefits can help disabled individuals with their daily financial needs during a difficult period of time, which is why applicants and their families should be familiar with the application process and how to qualify for SSD benefits.
When people think of illness and their job, people usually think of getting ill and having to take a day or two off work. This could be economically problematic depending on if an employee has sick leave. But what if an employee has a chronic condition that makes it impossible for them to work for an extended period?
Fibromyalgia is one example of a chronic condition that negatively impacts the ability of many people to work. People with fibromyalgia may experience chronic fatigue, restless sleep, pain in various parts of the body, numbness in the feet or hands, impaired cognitive functioning and other issues. These symptoms can make it difficult or even impossible to work. If a worker's fibromyalgia prevents them from working for at least 12 months, then the worker may want to apply for Social Security disability benefits for illness.
Unfortunately, Social Security disability claims are often initially denied by the Social Security Administration. This is not the end of the road for claimants with disability, however. Claimants can appeal a denial, and many claimants find a Social Security disability attorney to be an asset in their quest.
David Dopkin, Attorney at Law, has over 20 years of experience handling Social Security disability and Supplemental Security Income claims. He has helped many Houston claimants living with chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and similar conditions. For more information on fibromyalgia and the services his firm provides, please see the fibromyalgia page on his website. His page on Social Security disability benefits for illness may also be of use to those who want more information on this topic.
Many people in the Houston area who are receiving workers' compensation benefits may wonder if they can apply for Social Security disability benefits as well. This question is most commonly asked by people who have received a high disability rating on their workers' compensation claim and who may be facing a substantial reduction or elimination of future income.
First, the good news. Disability payments from private sources such as pension plans or disability insurers do not affect a person's right to apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits. However, if a person is receiving a public disability benefit, such as a workers' compensation payment, that person's SSD benefits may be affected.
The rule is easy to state: a person who is receiving both workers' compensation disability benefits and SSD benefits cannot receive more than 80% of the worker's average current earnings before the worker became disabled. Payments for matters such as medical expenses and rehabilitation are not affected. The calculation is performed as follows: the amounts received by the worker and his or her family members are added together. If the total of these amounts exceeds 80% of the worker's average current earnings, the excess will be deducted from the worker's Social Security disability payments.
Certain kinds of payments may complicate the calculation of the maximum monthly benefit. For example, a lump sum workers' compensation settlement may reduce the amount of SSD benefits one can receive. The Social Security Administration uses different formulas to calculate a person's current average income, depending upon place of residence and similar matters. Anyone who has questions about the effect of SSD benefits on workers' compensation benefits may wish to contact an attorney with experience in representing recipients of SSD benefits.
If you are unable to work because of your disability, you will need to take action in order to claim disability benefits in Texas. Doing so will help you to support yourself and your family financially. However, many people have reservations when filing for disability. This is often because of things they have been told by others about the process.
If you are concerned about filing for disability benefits because you believe you will be unsuccessful, or perhaps because you think you may be judged, it is important to address these beliefs. The following are some of the misconceptions that disabled people have when considering filing for disability benefits.
They will be thought to be lazy
Many people are reluctant to file for disability benefits because they are worried about how they will be perceived by family, friends and society as a whole. If you have worked when you are able, and you are now suffering from a disabling condition, you deserve to be compensated for your situation.
What really matters is the way that you perceive your own choices in life and the decisions you make to support your family. If you are able to successfully gain disability benefits, it means that you truly deserve them.
The system is designed for failure
It's true that filing for disability benefits can be challenging. This is because you will need to provide sufficient proof that you are suffering from a disability that prevents you from being able to carry out meaningful work. Additionally, the administrative process can be lengthy, and even the most minor inaccuracies can lead to a denied application.
However, this does not mean that the system is designed to cause people to fail in their applications. By being conscientious and acting with full knowledge of the law, you should be successful.
How much will I get?
Disability benefits will never be awarded excessively, but they should be enough to help you to pay for medical bills as well as day-to-day living if you are unable to earn any substantial income.
If you are considering whether to take action to claim disability benefits, it is important that you take the time to do your research. You should be well informed on the different types of disability benefits so that you know what you are eligible for.
Most people in the Houston area who are receiving Social Security disability benefits would love nothing more than to regain the ability to work and to earn a steady income. Some individuals suffer from disabilities, such as paralysis or blindness, that plainly preclude their return to work. Other individuals, however, have conditions whose disabling effects may be reduced or minimized by rehabilitation and counseling.
For this latter group, the Social Security Administration runs a program called Ticket to Work. As its name implies, the program is intended to help certain individuals find work in which their disability is not a total barrier to earning a steady income. Everyone who is age 18 to 64 who is receiving Social Security disability benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income is eligible for the program. Participation is both free and voluntary.
Anyone who wants to participate in the Ticket to Work program should call the Ticket to Work program to verify eligibility. The customer representatives who take these call can provide enrollment information and provide a list of service providers. Basically, the program provides contacts with a large network of employment counselors, rehabilitation specialists and job placement and training specialists. The next step is choosing an Employment Network or using the state sponsored Vocational Rehabilitation program to find the necessary services. In return for the assistance provided by the Social Security Administration, the beneficiary promises to develop and follow a plan that is specifically tailored to enhance the beneficiary's chances of returning to gainful employment. In short, the beneficiary promises to make "timely progress" toward the goals set by the beneficiary and the counselor.
The Ticket to Work program offers many different benefits, including employment counselling, physical rehabilitation and finding a job that is compatible with the person's disability. Professional legal guidance is available to those receiving disability benefits who want to learn more about the Ticket to Work program.
Many people in Houston who suffer from a serious illness or injury are uncertain if they are eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. They may understand that total disability is a prerequisite for receiving such benefits, but they may have only a vague idea of how the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines that term. Fortunately, the SSA has adopted regulations that provide a precise and comprehensive definition.
As defined by the SSA, "disability" means the inability to engage in "substantial gainful activity." That definition may not seem to provide much clarity, but the SSA has tied the definition to specified amounts of money that equal substantial gainful activity. The SSA has set two income levels to define substantial gainful activity, one level for people who are blind and one for people who are not blind. The specific amount has changed from year to year depending upon changes in the national average wage index.
For 2019, the cap on monthly income for blind individuals is $2,040; for non-blind individuals, the cap is $1,220. As examples of how the limit has changed, the limit for blind persons in 2010 was $1,640, and in 2017, it was $1,950. For non-blind individuals, the cap in 2010 was $1,000, and in 2017, it was $1,170. If the United States economy continues to expand, these limits will also increase every year.
SSD benefits also depend upon the extent and duration of the applicant's inability to engage in substantial gainful activity. The disability must have been determined based upon competent medical evidence to be permanent, that is, the disability must be expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months or to result in the death of the applicant. The disability must also be total; the applicant must not be able to perform any income producing work that provides income exceeding the specified limits.
Parents of children in Texas who are afflicted with limited mental capacities often wonder if their child might be eligible for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration runs several programs that provide financial benefits for children who suffer from conditions such as Down syndrome, mental retardation or other conditions that severely their ability to function at work or in society.
The starting point for most benefit applications for children who suffer from disabilities is an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To be eligible for SSI benefits, a child who is not blind cannot be earning more than $1,220 per month. The earning limitation for a blind child is $2,040 per month. The child must have a medical condition or combination of conditions that cause "marked and severe functional limitations." The condition must result in subaverage general intellectual functioning as evidence by an inability necessary to participate in standardized testing of intellectual functioning.
If a child is deemed eligible for SSI benefits, the SSA will make a periodic reassessment of his or her condition.
A second program provides benefits for those age 22 and up if their disability began before they reached that age. This program is based upon the parents' work credits, so it is still considered a "child's" benefit. To receive SSD benefits under these circumstances, one the applicant's parents must already be receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or one of the parents must have died. For children who have reached the age of 18, the SSA will use the same criteria to assess disability as it would if the individual were an adult.
Disability benefits for children can provide a very helpful financial benefits for their parents, but the application process can be challenging. Social Security attorneys may provide useful assistance.
As people age, their hearing often deteriorates. This problem is exacerbated by the many loud noises that people experience at work and in their daily lives, especially in a large city such as Houston. If hearing loss becomes severe, it can interfere with a person's ability to perform the duties of a job or fulfill social functions. The Social Security Administration has set guidelines for awarding disability benefits to those who have lost a significant portion of their hearing capacity.
An applicant for Social Security disability benefits based on hearing loss must first show that the hearing deficit has lasted for or is expected to last for at least 12 months. The hearing loss must also be shown to prevent a person from performing job duties in their current occupation or in any other occupation.
The Social Security Administration requires an applicant for disability due to hearing loss to undergo two tests. The first is an otoscopic examination, that is, a visual examination of the outer and inner ear conducted by a qualified physician, to ensure that the applicant does not have any bone or other deformity that would interfere with an audiometric test. The applicant must then take an audiometric test supervised by a licensed audiologist or otolaryngologist. An audiometric test measures the extent of the hearing loss at various frequencies. The results of the otoscopic exam and the audiometric test must be submitted to the SSA along with the rest of the disability application. The applicant must also undergo a word-recognition test.
The SSA has established special standards for testing of persons who have been fitted with cochlear implants. A person will be considered disabled for one year after the implantation. After one year, the applicant must take a word recognition test to determine the extent of the impairment.
Language can be ambiguous sometimes. Two people may hear the same word and have different interpretations of its true meaning. That can lead to a lot of confusion, especially when the interpretation of a few words can impact whether you receive certain benefits or not.
For those who believe they need Social Security Disability benefits, the application process can often prove quite daunting. Really understanding what qualifies a person for disability can help take some of the anxiety out of the application process.
The Social Security Administration has a broad definition for disability. This approach is logical, as any number of conditions could lead to a disability. Instead of simply listing a few diagnoses that qualify an individual, the approach is instead to qualify when various medical conditions become a disability.
Only severe medical conditions qualify for disability benefits
The word severe means harsh or intense. Some people may think that there is wiggle room for interpretation here, but they may find themselves disappointed when they finally submit an application. For the Social Security Administration, severe typically means that it impacts your ability to perform basic functions and work. Examples of functions considered basic include:
If a medical condition does not impact your ability to perform these tasks, it has to have a provable impact on your ability to work or care for yourself. If you can't work or take care of yourself independently, you may qualify. In some cases, a diagnosis with a severe progressive condition can lead to an applicant qualifying. Barring that, you likely won't meet the criteria for a severe injury or illness.
Your condition must persist for 12 months or more
In addition to being severe, the symptoms you experience must be persistent. They can't simply go away after a few weeks. The official guidance provided by the Social Security Administration is that the symptoms must impact your life for at least 12 months.
If you can easily prove that the medical condition is permanent, you do not necessarily have to wait a full 12 months before applying for disability. However, the requirement for 12 months of symptoms can be a source of issues for many applicants. Applying before you qualify could mean unnecessary work, frustration and expense. It could also cause issues for future applications.
Speaking with an attorney when you know you want to apply for Social Security Disability in Texas is in your best interest. Your lawyer can give you guidance about when to apply and what to include in your application. More importantly, they can help you document your condition and file an appeal if you don't receive benefits right away.
Most Houston residents who are wondering about obtaining Social Security disability benefits pay most of their attention to the nature of their illness or injury and its disabling effects. A third factor must also be considered -- whether the person has accumulated enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.
A person earns work credits by earning money in a job that is covered by the Social Security system. In 2019, a person receives one work credit for each $1,360 of covered earnings. The number of credits that can be earned in a single year is four, regardless of the person's total income. Thus, when a person has earned $5,440, he or she cannot earn any further credits in that calendar year. Work credits are permanent. The Social Security Administration maintains a record of every person's earnings and work credits. A person can leave and then return to a job covered by Social Security, and the number of accumulated work credits will be remain the same.
The number of credits that are necessary to confer eligibility for disability benefits depends upon the claimant's age when the disabling injury or illness occurred. Persons who are disabled at ages 31 through 42 must accumulate 20 credits in five years of work. The number of necessary credits then increases by two every two years; the number of years of work increases by six months every two years. A person who is aged 62 or older must have accumulated 40 credits in 10 years of work to become fully qualified.
Most workers have no difficulty earning a qualifying number of work credits, but persons who may have taken a lengthy time away from work, or worked in another country may find they run the risk of failing to earn the required number of work credits. The work credit system has a number of gray areas that can complicate the application process. A lawyer experienced in handling SSD claims can often provide useful advice in these areas.