Social Security Disability FAQs
Here, we’ve compiled and answered some of the most commonly asked questions that we receive about Social Security disability. See if your question is here so that you can get the answer that you need as soon as possible.
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How will medical evidence be considered in my Social Security disability case?
In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must be able to prove that you have a disability. This will require you to present medical evidence to prove that you are disabled and that you meet the legal qualifications to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Medical Evidence Rules Changed in 2017
Social Security disability claims filed on or after March 27, 2017, are subject to the new medical evidence rules. According to these rules:
- No special consideration will be given to information provided by your treating physician. Prior to March 27, 2017, special weight was given to the opinion of your treating physician because it was presumed that your doctor had a “detailed, longitudinal picture of your medical impairment” that other medical providers who saw you just briefly could not provide. Pursuant to the rule that went into effect on March 27, 2017, information from your treating physician may be considered but it may not be given special weight. Instead, all medical information must be considered with preferential treatment. The change in this rule recognizes that today many people see many different doctors and do not establish a special relationship with one physician.
- No special consideration will be given to information provided by another governmental agency. Prior to March 27, 2017, the Social Security Administration (SSA) could give special consideration to the medical evidence from another governmental agency. For example, some SSA Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) gave substantial weight to a finding of disability made by the Department of Veterans Affairs. The determinations of other government agencies will no longer be given special weight in determining the outcome of a Social Security disability claim.
- There are more acceptable medical sources whose information will be considered. Licensed doctors, psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists, and qualified speech-language pathologists were considered acceptable medical sources prior to March 27, 2017, and continue to be recognized as acceptable medical sources. However, the list of potential acceptable medical sources has been expanded and now also includes physicians assistants, advanced practice registered nurses—such as nurse practitioners and clinical nurse specialists—and licensed audiologists. This is meant to include more of the medical professionals that Americans see in the 21st century. However, it still does not include some medical providers such as chiropractors and licensed clinical social workers.
According to the Social Security Administration, these changes in the medical evidence rules will allow the agency to make accurate and consistent decisions on Social Security disability cases.
Make Sure All of Your Medical Evidence Is Considered in Your Social Security Disability Claim
The rules of acceptable medical evidence may have changed. However, a few things remain the same. Specifically, it remains important to get good quality medical care from a reliable and reputable medical provider. This is critical to the accurate diagnosis and treatment of your physical condition and to proving your Social Security disability claim.
Additionally, it remains important to work with an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who knows what evidence is important to your claim and how to present that evidence in a convincing way.
One simple mistake or oversight on your Social Security disability application can result in an unnecessary delay in your receipt of benefits. Likewise, failing to provide the right medical evidence on appeal can result in an unnecessary denial of your benefits.
For these reasons, it remains as important as ever to have an experienced Social Security disability lawyer working with you to make sure that your rights are protected from the time that you file an initial claim right through to when you might need to appeal your claim. Contact us today to learn more about providing the right medical documentation with your claim and to schedule your initial meeting with a Social Security disability lawyer.
We will evaluate your claim and make sure that you present strong medical evidence in a compelling way so that you can begin receiving the monthly Social Security disability benefits that you’ve earned.
Are stay at home parents eligible for Social Security disability benefits?
Stay at home parents do important work. Back in 2011, Forbes argued that stay at home moms should earn about $115,000 annually for their work as daycare providers, drivers, housekeepers, and for the other services that they provide to their families. Of course, there is no one to pay stay at home parents what they are worth and the position is not financially compensated.
When a stay at home parent becomes disabled, however, families quickly learn just how much it can cost to replace the services a stay at home parent was performing. If the stay at home parent is no longer able to handle the childcare and perform the household duties like she did prior to becoming disabled, then the costs to the family can quickly add up.
Social Security Disability May Be an Option for Some Stay at Home Parents
Whether or not you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits will depend on how many work credits you have acquired and other factors. Generally, you may acquire a total of four work credits every year. The amount of money that you have to earn to acquire a Social Security work credit varies from year to year. In 2018, you could earn one work credit for every $1,320 you earned up to a maximum of four credits if you earned $5,280 or more for the year.
The Social Security Administration then considers your work credits, when you earned those credits, and your age to determine if you may be eligible for Social Security disability. Specifically:
- If you are under the age of 24 then you need six credits that you earned in the three year period prior to becoming disabled.
- If you are between the ages of 24 and 31 then you may qualify if you earned half of the maximum credits possible from the time you were 21 until the time you became disabled.
- If you are between the ages of 31 and 42 then you need 20 credits.
- If you are 43 years old then you need 21 credits.
- If you are 44 years old then you need 22 credits.
- If you are 45 years old then you need 23 credits.
- If you are 46 years old then you need 24 credits.
- If you are 47 years old then you need 25 credits.
- If you are 48 years old then you need 26 credits.
- If you are 49 years old then you need 27 credits.
- If you are 50 years old then you need 28 credits.
- If you are 51 years old then you need 29 credits.
- If you are 52 years old then you need 30 credits.
- If you are 53 years old then you need 31 credits.
- If you are 54 years old then you need 32 credits.
- If you are 55 years old then you need 33 credits.
- If you are 56 years old then you need 34 credits.
- If you are 57 years old then you need 35 credits.
- If you are 58 years old then you need 36 credits.
- If you are 59 years old then you need 37 credits.
- If you are 60 years old then you need 38 credits.
- If you are 61 years old then you need 39 credits.
- If you are 62 years old or older than you need 40 credits.
These work credits must be earned within a certain amount of time of filing for Social Security disability. The exact amount of time depends on your age.
It is important to remember that work credits are only one factor in determining eligibility for Social Security disability. If you have earned enough work credits to be eligible for disability benefits then you will still need to prove to the Social Security Administration that you are disabled.
How to Protect Your Right to Receive Fair Social Security Disability Benefits
If you have worked at paying jobs long enough and recently enough to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, then being a stay at home parent should not be a barrier to your receipt of fair benefits. For help getting the benefits that you deserve, please contact a Board Certified Social Security disability lawyer. We would be happy to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with you to review your claim and, if appropriate, talk about how we can help you get the benefits that you’ve earned and that can help your family during this difficult time.
What Benefit Am I Entitled to if I Retire Early?
If you are ill and reaching the age of 62, retiring early may be something for you to consider. However, there are very specific guidelines for each, so it is important to know what would suit your scenario best.
Benefits of Early Retirement:
Once you are 62-years-old, you can apply for SS benefits. You will not be eligible to receive your full retirement benefits if you retire before "full retirement age." The "full retirement age" is 65, so if you start drawing Social Security at 62, but you will only receive 80% of the monthly benefit you would be receiving if you had retired at sixty-five.
Benefits of Social Security Disability:
If you are approved to receive Social Security Disability, you will receive 100% of the monthly benefit you would receive by retiring at the age of sixty-five. The rate will stay the same when it switches to Social Security once you reach the full retirement age.
So, if you are approved for disability, you will receive more each month. If you retire early and you are not approved for disability you will only receive 80% of your monthly pension. However, this may be worth considering depending on your health.
Are Work Credits Transferable from Other Countries?
Some U.S. citizens work outside of America, and they are permitted to receive Social Security with foreign work credits. Having foreign work credits may complicate the benefits process, but it does not take away the citizen's eligibility.
In order for a citizen to still be eligible for benefits, the citizen must be employed by one of the nations America has made arrangments with in order to count your work credits. These countries are listed below:
- The Czech Republic
- The Netherlands
- The Slovak Republic
- South Korea
- The United Kingdom
Foreign work credits are only counted if you do not have enough America-based work credits to obtain Social Security benefits. If your work credits from another country must be counted, you receive partial credit from the SSA. The work credits you accumulated in another country may qualify you for retirement benefits within that country. You may be able to collect U.S. retirement benefits, as well benefits from the country of which you worked.
Can Non-Citizens Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
Although most Americans who receive SSD benefits are U.S. citizens, non-citizens are allowed to receive some benefits under SSDI and SSI.
To be approved by SSDI benefits, non-citizens must follow these requirements:
- They must have a Social Security Number that authorizes them to work in America.
- They must have a B-1 visa, D-1 visa, or a D-2 visa.
- They must be able to prove they are legally in the U.S. while receiving SSDI payments.
- They must meet the medical and technical requirements set in place by the Social Security Administration.
Several non-citizens are exempt from paying Social Security taxes, and if this is the case, they will not be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.
Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income is even more complicated. A non-citizen must me the previously listed requirements, as well as:
- be a "qualified alien" according to Disability Benefits Help, and
- "meet the predefined 'conditions' or circumstances for eligibility."
To read more information about the "predefined conditions of eligibility," click here.
What is the Compassionate Allowance Program?
All Social Security Disability claims were treated equally until recent years. People with severe disabilities were treated just like those without severe issues. After what Disability Benefits Help.com calls, "much public outcry," the SSA developed the Compassionate Allowance Program, which hurries cases for those severely impaired. Applications are finished in weeks versus months or years.
To qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program, you must suffer from one of the ailments listed here.
If your claim is handled under the Compassionate Allowance Program, you should be approved within weeks and start receiving benefits within one to two months.
In order for this to happen, your application must be filled out correctly. It might be in your best interest to contact an attorney to help fill out your application to ensure you give the SSA all the necessary information they need to approve your claim.
If you would like to speak with an attorney about filing your claim under the Compassionate Allowance Program or seeing if you qualify to file your claim under the Compassionate Allowance Program, click here. Raleigh lawyer, Brent Adams, and his team have been serving the N.C. tri-state area for over thirty years. They will be happy to assist you and your claim. Click here or call 877-273-6823 to schedule a free consultation.
How Does the SSA define Disability/How Do You Qualify?
Nolo.com states that the SSA defines disability as the inability "to perform a 'substantial' amount of work as the result of physical or mental impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or possibly result in death." In order to be considered disabled, you must:
- Not be capable of performing your previous occupation.
- Be unable to adjust your work due to your illness or injury.
- Must have a medical condition that has lasted or will last for one year or result in death.
How do You Know if You are Disabled?
- If you have been unable to attend work or cannot perform your job due to your condition, you might qualify for SSD.
- If you cannot adjust your work to meet your needs in order to perform your required tasks, you could qualify for SSD.
- If your medical condition has affected you for one year--or will affect you for one year--you could be approved for SSD.
Assessing your claim
If you have any more questions, need help filing, or if you believe you have been wrongfully denied a claim, feel free to contact Brent Adams and his team of trial lawyers. Click here to schedule a free consultation or call 877-273-6823.
What Are Work Credits?
To qualify for Social Security, you must have worked five out of the last ten years. Work credits are awarded to you when you have a full-time, tax-paying job. These credits are based on how much you have earned. They will determine your eligibility for disability, retirement, and survivor's benefits. For 2018, you will receive one credit every time you are paid $1,320 by your tax-paying job.
For more information about work credits, click here.
Will Accepting Financial Benefits from Family Change my SSD?
No, accepting financial assistance from family members will not affect your Social Security Disability award. Gifts will not interfere with your claim but having a job will. Social Security Disability was created to help provide income to those who have been or will undergo a year without work due to an illness or injury. Because of this, it is highly likely your claim will be denied if you can work.
You are allowed to receive help from others while your disability claim is under review. This process usually takes six months. The SSA understands this process is long and frustrating, and they are not going to penalize you for receiving help. However, keep in mind there is a difference between receiving help and having a "steady stream of income," according to Disability Benefits Help. Any regular payment such as investments, annuities, trust funds, etc. could negatively impact your claim.
Should I Apply for Social Security Disability Income or Supplemental Security Income?
Social Security Disability Income
You can only receive Social Security Disability Insurance if you have paid taxes for a certain length of time. In order to withdraw, the Social Security Administration must have decided you have worked 40 work credits, with 20 of those being earned within the last five years. You can qualify with fewer credits if you are working full-time. You can earn four credits per year. If you have worked a full-time job five out of the last ten years, you can qualify, unless you are under 31 years of age.
Supplemental Security Income
These benefits do not have any employment requirements. SSI benefits are typically offered to blind and disabled children or to those who do not have many sources of income. In order to qualify, you must meet the standards set by the Social Security Administration. The income requirements for SSI vary state to state. The monthly benefit awarded to you is decided by Social Security.
How Can I Qualify for SSI if I'm Already Receiving Social Security?
You may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) if you already receive Social Security retirement benefits. However, you are not guaranteed to receive SSI. Whether or not you qualify will depend on your state of residence and their rules.
What "Loop-Holes" Should I Look for When Signing a Contract?
Signing a nursing home agreement contract is not something that should be taken lightly. Be careful to read the entire contract and/or have an attorney look over it. Here are a few "loopholes" the nursing home may place in the contract to protect themselves:
Responsible Party Agreement
If a contract has a responsible party agreement, do not sign the contract. Nursing homes are not allowed to take money for bills from third parties, however, this agreement will require you to pay for the resident's bills.
The resident themselves should sign their contract. If they are not capable of doing so, you must sign as their agent. Failure to sign as their agent may result in piles of your loved one's nursing home bills that you will have to pay. Look over the contract for words such as "guarantor," "responsible party," and "financial agent." Be clear that you are not agreeing to pay for the resident's bills.
This agreement is not technically illegal, however, by signing a contract with this provision, you are giving up your rights to take any case to court. If you one day you have to sue the nursing home, you will not be allowed to take your case to court. It will have to be settled through arbitration, which is when a third party settles a dispute. If you do not want this provision, simply cross it out before signing.
Nursing homes are not prohibited to:
- Make the resident pay for the "private rate for a long period of time," nor can they make the resident confirm whether or not they have Medicaid or Medicare.
- Evict patients for any other reason other than the fact the nursing home can no longer provide treatment, the resident's health has improved, the resident is dangerous to others, they have not paid, or the facility has stopped operating.
- Waive responsibility for a resident's health or lost/stolen items.
Can a Resident Sue With and Without a Contract?
A nursing home contract is put in place so you and your loved one know what rights you are entitled to while receiving care. This agreement contract is a legally binding document that is designed to protect the nursing home, not you or your loved one. Read the document carefully before signing. A resident can sue a nursing home facility regardless as to whether or not they have a contract. However, your case may not be taken to court if your contract has an "arbitration agreement."
Is there a deadline to apply for Social Security Disability benefits?
Many people are concerned about when they should file a claim for disability benefits with the Social Security Administration (SSA). Individuals postpone filing for disability for a number of reasons:
- An individual might have a condition that may or may not yet qualify for disability. The condition could become more severe over time and the applicant might be waiting since they are uncertain about qualifying. Temporary conditions do not qualify for disability; generally the condition must last or be expected to last one year or more.
- The individual is still working, perhaps in the same or a reduced capacity. If the worker earns certain wages they could be disqualified from disability.
- The disability application process is confusing to the individual and they do not know where to start.
It might help to understand more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits. The SSA will decide whether or not the applicant is eligible for benefits. If the application is denied, the applicant faces an important deadline should they choose to appeal. The SSA imposes a 60-day deadline to appeal a denied claim.
Are you waiting to apply for disability? If you are not sure whether or not you will qualify our Raleigh and Cary Social Security Disability attorneys will provide a complimentary case evaluation. Less than 50 attorneys in North Carolina are Board Certified Disability Benefits Specialists, and one of those attorneys practices at Brent Adams & Associates. Let us help you understand the benefits you might be entitled to and how to move forward with an application.
My job requires me to be on my feet, but after foot surgery I am not able to. My employer fired me. Am I eligible for Social Security Disability in NC?
If you feel you have experienced employment discrimination due to your disability, you may qualify for compensation. Were the terms of your job loss memorialized in writing? An email or letter from your employer explicitly stating that you were terminated due to your disability would be powerful evidence for a claim, both out-of-court and in court. Whether you qualify for federal disability benefits is a separate issue. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, applicants must go through a detailed legal process. First, they must have worked in a job covered by Social Security. Next, it has to be determined if your specific medical condition meets the Social Security's definition of disability, which requires a review of your medical treatment records.
After a review of the federal adult disability checklist, applications can be made online or at the local Social Security Administration office. To complete the application process, you must fill out an adult disability report, which includes your medical and work information, then complete form SSA-827 (medical information disclosure). Applicants then have to wait for a decision to be made by the Social Security office.
If you meet the set standards and are unable to work for a year or more due to your condition, you could be eligible for a monthly cash benefit. In most cases, your cash benefits will continue until you’re able to return to back to work on a regular basis.
You could also qualify for “work incentives,” which are additional benefits that extend healthcare coverage, to make your transition back to work even more seamless.
If the form is not completed correctly or on time, your application could be rejected. You have the right to appeal the disability decision if you are denied benefits, although the process can take months to complete.
To find out if you’re eligible for Social Security Disability, or if a Social Security office has recently denied your claim for benefits, contact the Social Security Disability lawyers in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Dunn with Brent Adams & Associates. If your foot surgery was required as a result of a work injury, it is important to discuss the details of the work accident with a lawyer so that you can pursue benefits through the North Carolina Industrial Commission.
I am on total disability at the age of 59. At what age will this turn over to Social Security?
The quick answer to your question is age 66. The amount of money is the same as it’s essentially a bookkeeping issue.
Why? There are two trust funds from which Social Security benefits are paid: The Old Age and Survivors Insurance (OASI) trust fund and the Disability Insurance (DI) trust fund. When a person receiving disability benefits reaches full retirement age, the Social Security Administration will stop using the DI trust fund for that person’s payments and move them to the OASI trust fund. Also, because you’ll then be receiving full retirement benefits, your disability will no longer be the basis for your entitlement. This means that you will no longer have periodic reevaluations to ensure that you are still disabled and there will be no more restrictions on earnings if you feel well enough to attempt working.
The Social Security Administration does not send annual statements to those currently receiving benefits. As for the Social Security statement, the SSA will send these out yearly to all Social Security number holders with earnings on their records from the time they reach age 25 until they begin receiving benefits. They will stop sending them after a person becomes entitled to receive benefits. Therefore, the reason why you are not receiving them is because you are currently receiving benefits.
Can you collect SSI and SSDI at the same time?
In some cases, SSI and SSDI benefits may be collected at the same time. A concurrent claim must be filed if applying for both Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.
Claimants can apply for and collect either SSI or SSDI benefits or both at the same time. Although these are different types of benefits, the common factor these claims will share is determining whether or not the person is disabled. The same evaluation and criteria will be used under both programs.
In order to be eligible to collect under both programs, not only must the person be considered disabled according to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of disability, but also his or her income and resources must be limited even after collecting the SSDI benefits.
Benefits of Filing a Concurrent Claim
Whatever amount a person would qualify to receive under SSDI likely would increase if it’s found he or she does not receive the minimum under the SSI program. This increased amount can make a significant difference financially.
Another benefit is that those who receive SSDI automatically qualify to receive Medicare after two years. Those who receive SSI immediately qualify to receive Medicaid in the state of North Carolina. Individuals may, therefore, be able to qualify for both types of government healthcare coverage.
SSDI Benefit Amounts
Monthly payments are based on lifetime wages prior to the disability. The more paid into Social Security, the higher the amount is likely to be. In 2013, the average payment is estimated at $1,132.
Sometimes SSDI payments are reduced when a person receives other types of compensation, such as Workers’ Compensation. However, SSI benefits won’t cause a reduction in SSDI benefits. In fact, it may increase the overall monthly payments received.
SSI Benefit Amounts
Minimum monthly payments for SSI are based on the federal benefit rate (FBR). In 2013, the rate is $710 each month for individuals and $1,066 for couples. When there are cost-of-living increases, the amount goes up. However, the amounts also can decrease, depending on certain types of income received.
For example, if a person receives SSDI benefits of $250 per month, he or she may collect SSI in the amount of $460 to meet the minimum $710 monthly SSI payment for individuals. Despite how low SSDI benefits may be, only a few actually will qualify to receive both that and SSI.
However, if the individual receives more than $710 in SSI, he or she cannot collect SSI and SSDI at the same time because the disability benefits would exceed the SSI minimum.
According to SSA, there are 11,736,104 recipients (including the disabled and dependents) who received SSDI in 2011, and there were 5,430,932 recipients (disabled and dependents) who received SSI in 2011. Meanwhile, one in six disabled beneficiaries also received SSI, according to SSA.
Seeking Help from an Attorney in Raleigh When Disabled
Eligibility for SSI and SSDI benefits is based on SSA’s definition of disability. There are strict eligibility requirements that must be met, and many initial claims are denied. Sometimes this can be avoided by seeking legal counsel from the start.
However, an attorney from Brent Adams & Associates may be able to help if a claim was denied or if there are questions concerning qualifying for both types of benefits. It may be helpful to seek legal advice when looking to collect SSI and SSDI at the same time.
Should I file a claim for Social Security benefits?
You should file a claim for Social Security benefits if you can't work and it looks as if you won't be able to work for a number of months. Many diseases caused by asbestos get worse with time rather than better. The legal requirement is that you be unable to work for 12 months, but if you are off work now because of an asbestos-related disease, there is a significant chance you won't get back to work in the next year. When in doubt, file a claim. There can be long delays in the Social Security system and you can always withdraw your claim later if your condition improves. If your claim is denied, don't give up; most Social Security claims are denied at first and you can learn what to do after your disability claim is denied from our Raleigh SSDI lawyers. Here's why your Social Security disability claim may have been denied.
I'm receiving benefits from Social Security disability for myself, my wife and son based on my severe disability. I also have a daughter from a former marriage who received child support from me when I was able to work. Now that I'm disabled, can my daughter receive benefits too?
Your daughter will most likely be able to qualify for benefits from Social Security. You should file an application on her behalf and, if she is eligible, both of your children would receive equal benefits.
Is it necessary to hire an attorney when applying for Social Security Disability in North Carolina?
Having a Social Security disability attorney in Raleigh, NC as you begin applying for Social Security benefits is not necessary, but it can certainly be helpful in many cases.
An attorney may be especially helpful if you wish to appeal the Social Security Administration (SSA) decision regarding a previously filed claim. Having a lawyer as your representative may help to ensure that you submit all necessary documentation and that your application is complete to avoid any unnecessary delays or avoidable denials.
Benefits of Hiring a Lawyer
The SSA will work with your chosen attorney, just as they would you. Hiring an attorney can eliminate a lot of the stress that accompanies the application or appeals process, and you may run less risk of claim denials when you have a legal professional working on your behalf.
Some of tasks a Social Security disability attorney can coordinate include:
- Clearly explaining the application process
- Helping you articulate and demonstrate the full extent of your condition
- Navigating the court system and speaking to the judge and SSA on your behalf
- Striving to obtain the benefits for which you qualify
- Assisting you with any interview or conferences you may have with the SSA
- Filing an appeal, if necessary
- Preparing witnesses for a hearing, if applicable
As you begin searching for a North Carolina disability attorney when you get ready to apply for benefits, find a lawyer that is familiar with these kinds of cases. You’ll also want to keep in mind that you must inform the SSA in writing as soon as you hire a lawyer.
You’ll need to send them an Appointment of Representative form. You may download the form from the SSA website or obtain it at an SSA office. Your attorney may even provide the form and assist you in filling it out. Keep in mind that while you can appoint multiple people from a single firm, you cannot appointment the firm itself to represent you.
Your lawyer must also file a fee agreement or fee petition with the SSA to charge you for services. The fee may not exceed the amount authorized by the SSA. Both you and the attorney must sign the agreement. Generally, the fee cannot be more than 25 percent of past-due benefits, or $6,000, whichever amount is less. (Fees as of this writing.)
Contacting a Social Security Disability Attorney in Raleigh, NC
In 2011, 653,877 disabled workers lost their benefits, according to information from the SSA's "Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program.” If you believe you are legally entitled to benefits, you certainly do not want to be one of the individuals whose disability benefits are terminated.
The legal team at Brent Adams & Associates has helped many disabled individuals with applications for Social Security benefits or appealing a claim decision. For more information, you may call 910-892-8177 or 877-BRENT-ADAMS today for a free case evaluation.