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Frequently Asked Questions

SSD is the abbreviation for social security disability.  It is for those individuals who have earned enough credits through their jobs to qualify for SSD.   You are eligible for SSD even if your spouse has a large income or if you have resources such as stocks, bonds and bank accounts.  Resources do not count for SSD eligibility.

SSI is the abbreviation for social security insurance and is for those individuals who don’t have enough work credits and/or who also have very limited income and resources.   SSI looks at household income, not just the income limits for the individual who is disabled.  Individuals are allowed $2000.00 in resources and a couple is allowed $3000.00 in resources.   The house you live in does not count as a resource.  You may also own one car per household if used for a medical purpose such as going to doctor’s appointments.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

SSD- social security disability is for those individuals who have earned enough credits through their jobs to qualify for SSD. You are eligible for SSD even if your spouse has a large income or if you have resources such as stocks, bonds and bank accounts. Resources don’t count for SSD eligibility.

SSI is for those individuals who don’t have enough work credits and who also have very limited income and resources. For 20121 the income limit is $1310.00 per month for non-blind individuals. Individuals are allowed $2000.00 in resources and a couple is allowed $3000.00 in resources. The house you live in does not count as a resource. You may also own one car per household.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You are only eligible for social security disability if you have enough work credits and are still insured for SSD. You generally need 40 credits with 20 credits earned in the last 10 years ending with the date you became disabled. Your date last insured is the last day that you are eligible for social security disability benefits. As a general rule of thumb as long as you have worked 5 of the past ten years you will usually be insured. There are exceptions and the rules are different for younger workers. The younger you are the fewer years you will have needed to work in order to be eligible for social security disability. You can obtain your work history from the Social Security Administration by going to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/online/ssa-7050.pdf . Here you can find out how to obtain your social security statement which contains your work history.

For SSI you need both limited resources and limited income. It is often obtained by individuals who do not have the work history necessary to obtain SSD benefits. The resources you may own are very limited. For an individual you may have $2000 in cash. A couple may have $3000 in cash. You generally may own a house if you live in it and a car that you use to drive to medical appointments.

If you are uncertain whether you have enough work credits to qualify for SSD and have limited resources and low income then apply for both. You will not be penalized by applying for both, but there may be issues if you are eligible for SSD and fail to apply for it within your last date insured period. You will also not be penalized for applying for SSI if you are uncertain if you have enough work credits to qualify for SSD.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You can file a SSD application online with the Social Security administration.   You also need to fill out the Adult Disability Report online which will provide the Social Security Administration with your medical and work history. Another form you will need is the Authorization to Disclose Information to the Social Security Administration. The last form must be either mailed or dropped off to your local social security office. You can also complete an application by mail, phone interview or in person office interview.

You have to remember that you must be 18 or over, have worked long enough to qualify for social security disability and have a medical condition that has or is expected to last at least 12 months or will result in death.

If you have only worked under the table (not reporting your income to the IRS) and have not paid any social security taxes on your income you will not be eligible for social security disability. You may, however, be eligible for SSI (see next post).

It helps for you to provide a Medical Source Statement along with your application. I’ll go into what a Medical Source Statement is in more detail in a later post, but it basically is a form that your doctor fills out on how functionally capable you are in performing different tasks, either physically, mentally or both.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You need a certain number of credits to be eligible for social security disability.  The number of credits that you need depends on your age.  In 2021, the Social Security Administration gives you a credit for each $1470.00 of earnings, up to a maximum of 4 credits per year.

So as long as you earn $5880.00 in a year then you have earned the maximum number of social security credits.  It does not matter if you earned the $5880.00 in your first week of work and took off the other 51 weeks- you still will have 4 credits.

  • If you became disabled before the age of 24 then you need 6 credits or 1 ½ years of work during the 3 years before you became disabled.
  • If you are 24 through 30, you generally need credits for half of the time between age 21 and the time you became disabled.
  • If you are disabled at age 31 or older, you generally need at least 20 credits in the 10 years immediately before you became disabled.

Remember, the credits are for SSD purposes, not for SSI purposes.  You do not need any credits to be eligible for SSI.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

Applying for SSI is different than applying for SSD (social security disability). You cannot apply for SSI online. You can either call the Social Security Office or go to the office in person. There is a toll free number you can call, 1-800-772-1213, between 7AM and 7PM Monday through Friday to make an appointment.

You can choose to file the social security disability claim through either a phone interview or an in person interview. You can still fill out the Disability Application SSD and Adult Disability Report online. You just cannot do the actual SSI application online. You must have your social security number available when you call. You should also review the Adult Disability Kit that the Social Security Administration has online. This is so you know what information you will need to gather so that you can provide it at the interview. This will include your medical and work history.  For SSI you must also provide all of your financial information.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

I can help you fill out the application- by making sure that the social security administration has all of the necessary information you have a better chance to be approved for benefits. I help you do the initial application online to make sure the information on your application is complete. I then set up a SSI phone interview if you are applying for SSI benefits. You must have a phone or in person office interview with the social security administration if you are applying for SSI. However, the interview is just to go over your finances. I have already submitted all of the important information on the online application. I forward all of the necessary documents to the local social security office by both fax and mail.

I also assist you in completing the approximately 28 page New York state paperwork that you will receive concerning your functional limitations and work history. I help you complete ALL of the paperwork. You can complete the application by yourself, but if you are denied benefits you must appeal the decision. That may mean that you have to wait for up to 14 months for a hearing to get approved.

A question I hear often is will I be able to get social security disability if I have cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, etc. Getting social security disability does not depend on your diagnosis or the name of your illness. It depends on the symptoms and how they affect your ability to work a full time job, which exists in sufficient numbers in the economy, while considering your age, education and work experience. What does this mean?

Well, the social security administration looks at your age in deciding whether to grant you disability benefits. The older you are, the easier it is to get  benefits. They also look at your education. If you are highly educated then is it less likely that you will be found eligible for social security disability benefits because there will be more jobs that you can perform. The Social Security Administration only has to produce one job that you perform full-time in order to disqualify you for benefits. They also look at your work history. If you have a lot of experience in your field and have held different types of jobs then you are more likely to have transferable skills. This means that although you may no longer be able to perform your past jobs, there may be other jobs that you can transfer your skills to that you can perform.

What does sufficient numbers mean- well the Social Security Administration has not really defined that number. So what does it come down to- you have to show that your symptoms prevent you from working a full-time job that exists in sufficient numbers in the economy, considering your age, education and work experience. If you have cancer, but it is in remission and you feel great and can work your old job, than chances are you will not be eligible for benefits. If you have arthritis and your hands swell up so much that you cannot type or hold a pen for long periods of time then you may be eligible for benefits. It is important to remember to focus on your symptoms, not the name of your disability.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

Don’t give up hope yet.  You can appeal the decision of the Social Security Administration.  It is very important that you appeal the decision within 60 days.  If you fail to do so you will have to refile a new application, unless you can show just cause, and you may lose valuable past benefits.

With SSD you can receive benefits up to a year before the date of your application if your disability began at least a year before you applied.  With SSD you cannot receive benefits for the first five months of your disability period.   So if you apply for SSD and you have been disabled for at least 17 months it is to your advantage to put the date of your disability 17 months prior to the date of your application.

With SSI you cannot receive any benefits before the date of your application even if you were disabled for a period of time before you applied for SSI.   However, there is no waiting period to receive SSI benefits once you are approved.

Once you appeal the decision you will have the opportunity for a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.  There used to be a step called reconsideration in New York before you had your hearing, but the step has been eliminated.  Now the agency may be bringing reconsideration back to New York.  This is an extra step in which the agency reviews your case to see if you should receive social security disability before you actually go through with a hearing.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You must follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment or else you may be denied disability benefits.  However, there may be some acceptable excuses of why you failed to follow treatment.

Accepted Excuses:

  • You have terrible side effects to the recommended treatment such as a severe reaction to a prescribed medication.
  • You have no health insurance and cannot find a doctor to treat your condition.
  • You cannot afford treatment.
  • You have a mental disability which prevents you from following prescribed treatment.
  • Your doctor recommends surgery and you have a legitimate fear of such a procedure.
  • You have a lower IQ which prevents you from understanding and following the doctor’s prescribed treatment.
  • You need assistance in order to follow the recommended treatments, but no one is available to assist you.
  • Your religious beliefs conflict with the recommended treatment.

This is not a complete list, but used to show you some of the acceptable reasons that you may have for failure to follow your doctor’s recommended course of treatment.

If your doctor’s recommended treatment would still not enable you to work a full-time position than the matter of failing to follow prescribed treatment should not cause you to be denied disability benefits.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You need more than just your doctor’s statement that you are disabled in order to be approved for benefits. You need to show that you have symptoms from your medical problems that will cause you to be unable to work your past job or any other full-time job that exists in large numbers in the economy. What jobs you can do are based upon your age, education, transferable skills and residual functional capacity (RFC). If it is shown that you can only work part-time then you may still be eligible for social security disability. You only have to show that you cannot work a full time, 40 hour a week, job. However, if you are working part-time it may be more difficult to prove to an ALJ (administrative law judge) why you can work part-time, but not full time.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

Part of a social security attorney’s job is to obtain the client’s medical records. I have had clients question me on why I need to obtain medical records when the SSA office has already requested their medical records. While it is true that the SSA office has requested the medical records, it does not mean that they have received them. If the doctor or hospital does not send the records the SSA office will not subpoena the records. It is important that you make sure that the social security office has all of the medical records it needs so it can make a favorable decision in awarding you disability benefits.

The SSA office will also only obtain records when you initially apply for social security disability benefits. If you are turned down for benefits and appeal the decision it will not obtain any records from the time of denial until your disability hearing. The records during this time period could be crucial in the determination of whether or not you are eligible for disability benefits. It is vital that these records be obtained and submitted to the social security office before your hearing.

Medical records are very costly to obtain. Here in New York medical providers can charge up to .75 per page to copy the records. As many records can consist of hundreds of pages you can see how the cost can accumulate. Thus it is very important to know just what records to obtain to keep the cost of medical records low. This is also important if you hire an attorney because the client is responsible for the cost of obtaining the medical records. You do not want your attorney to obtain every single record available if the records do not help you support your case.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

You can always file but, what’s more important is will your application be approved. This question cannot be answered without looking at the specific facts of your case. A lot depends on what type of work you are doing, how many hours you are working, how much are you earning, etc. Let’s say you are working as a part-time mover. You then file because you say you cannot work a desk job. In this case working a part time job may be a problem in applying for benefits. The social security administration will probably feel that if you can work as a mover, than you can work a full-time unskilled desk job.

If you are working at the same type of job you have worked in the past than the social security administration will want to know why you can work part-time, but not full-time. It may be difficult to show why you can work 20 hours per week, but not 40. You would have to show that your symptoms are exacerbated if you work more than 20 hours per week.

If you earn more than $1310 per month than the social security administration views it as substantial gainful activity. This means that your application will be denied because you are considered to be gainfully working so you do not qualify for benefits. There are exceptions, for example you don’t really work, but it’s a family business so it pays you a salary regardless.

As you can see there are no cut and dry answers to the question. It is important to look at all aspects of the person’s disability and his/her job before answering this question.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

If you going to apply for social security disability or SSI then you need to know what a medical source statement is.  A medical source statement lets a person know your residual functional capacity.   Well, what does residual functional capacity mean?  Residual functional capacity is the ability to engage in normal daily activities taking into account your disabilities.  It is what abilities are left after considering either your mental and/or physical disabilities.  So a medical source statement lets the Social Security Administration know the abilities you have left to do normal daily activities after taking into consideration your disabilities.

Now, the Social Security Administration has their own medical source statement that they use.  However, they have their own consultative examiners fill out the form.  Now, the examiner may have only met you once for a ten minute consultation.  As a result the medical source statement may not be as informative or persuasive as one that your own physician or psychiatrist completes.  So what do you do- well you let the Social Security Administration fill out their own form and have your doctors fill out a medical source statement that you to submit as additional evidence.

It is important that you try to pick your most sympathetic doctor to fill out the form.  You don’t want a doctor who doesn’t think you are disabled to fill out the form.  You also want to take it with you to your doctor’s appointment and personally request that your doctor complete the form.  This is more effective than just mailing the form- it can get lost or shuffled aside.

Finally, tailor the medical source statement to your disability.  If you have a spinal injury you don’t want a medical source statement that questions the doctor all about your breathing abilities.  I try to tailor each medical source statement to a specific disability.  If you have a mental disability in addition to a physical disability, submit a separate mental medical source statement to your psychiatrist or psychologist.

Submitting a medical source statement that supports your case could make the difference in being approved for social security disability the first time you apply.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

The Social Security Administration uses a 5 step process to determine if you are disabled.

The first step is:
 
  • Are you working?

If you are working and earning more than $1070.00 per month in 2014 then you are generally considered to be working and not eligible for social security disability benefits.  There are exceptions, however, for example you do not really perform any work, but your family allows you to be on the payroll at a family owned company.  If you are not working then the second step is:

  • Is your medical condition “severe”?

What does severe mean?  It means that your medical condition interferes and limits your ability to do basic work activities.  These activities include such things as walking, standing, sitting, bending, remembering, etc.  Usually most potential social security candidates meet step 2 as their condition is considered severe.  If your condition is considered severe the third step is:

  • Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?

What is a list of impairments or listings as they are sometimes called?  The Social Security Administration has a detailed list of impairments that describes certain medical conditions.  It considers these conditions so severe that if you meet or equal the condition on the list you are automatically considered disabled.

If your condition does not meet one of the listings you continue on to step 4:

  • Can you do the work you did before?
  • This is very simple- can you perform any job that you have held in the past 15 years.  If you can perform ANY of your previous jobs then you are not considered disabled.  It does not matter if the job no longer exists or if you would never be hired for it.
  • If you can still perform it then you will not qualify for disability benefits.

Finally, the fifth step is:

  • Can you do any other type of work that exists in substantial numbers in the economy?

What does this mean?  The agency looks at your medical condition, age, education and past work history to see if there is any other type of job that you could perform.  It has to exist in substantial numbers which is an undefined number.  It does not matter if the job is below your educational level.  If you were a doctor, but can now be a ticket taker than you will not be considered disabled depending upon your age.  There are the grids to consider, but they will be discussed later in this blog.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

However, I am a High School dropout.  No one will hire me for a desk job.   Am I still eligible for social security disability?

Unfortunately, as long as there is a job that exists in sufficient numbers in the economy that you can do full-time then you are not eligible for social security disability.  It is advised to get expert advice though as you may be more limited than you think in your ability to work a full time job.  Also, the number of jobs that is sufficient is not clearly defined by the Social Security Administration.

Please remember that this is just general information, and everyone’s situation is unique. This article should not be considered legal advice.

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