Saturday, January 23, 2016

Getting Your Social Security Disability Benefits - What You Need to Know

The Social Security Act was enacted by Congress, and signed into law seventy-five years ago, in 1935, by President Franklin Roosevelt. The Act was created to assist the individuals during challenging economic times very similar to today. During the past seventy-five years, the Social Security Administration, or SSA, has helped many millions of people, by offering essential aid. In 2010 alone, more than 10 million citizens will get some type of assistance from the SSA.

One of the main pillars of the system is to offer some amount of economic security to elderly and retired people by way of a fund where employees fund their individual retirements. Another critical facet of the law is to supply a source of financial aid to individuals that are either temporarily or permanently unable to work.

Though it is not anything which people typically think of or plan for, the possibility of becoming disabled at some place in your lifetime is great. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), a 20 year old person has a greater than 25% chance of becoming impaired before he or she reaches retirement age.

Applying for SSD

Recent media reports have stated that more than three million citizens will apply for Social Security disability benefits this year. Over 2/3 of those claims will be refused on first consideration. With the proper representation for their claim, many people who have been initially denied will prevail with their claim and get their benefits at one of the following levels of the claims process. The length of time it takes to receive benefits can vary, and in many, many cases it can take up to 24 months to process an application.

Processing the initial application can take a significant amount of time. Up-to-date estimates by the Social Security Administration make note that it takes three to five months to even process the initial application. This, coupled with the time it takes to appeal an adverse conclusion, is a good cause for an individual to file an application as soon as you are determined to be disabled.

Determining Benefit Eligibility

Once your application is processed and the Social Security Administration finds that it meets the primary criteria to get benefits, the application is then forwarded to a state agency which will find whether the benefits should be granted. Usually, claimants will begin to receive payments after they have been impaired for more than five full months. In order to be qualified for disability payments an applicant must show that their disability is one will last for a time period of more than twelve continuous months. Furthermore, one must prove that they are unable to perform any type of gainful employment, even work which is sedentary.

The Five Step Analysis

To determine if somebody is impaired and eligible for Social Security disability benefits, the Social Security Administration employs a 5 step analysis. These 5 questions help decide the amount and type of social security benefits you will receive.
  • Are you presently working at a job? If you are employed and reach a certain earning level or greater every month, the state agency in all likelihood will find that you are not disabled. If you are unable to work, or your income is under the threshold, the government agency will look further into your physical issue.
  • Is your medical condition serious? In order for your medical condition to be found to be severe it must last for a least 12 months, and limit your physical ability to accomplish typical employment activities.
  • Can your medical condition be found on the scheduled list of health conditions? There are some medical disabilities that are severe enough to automatically qualify you for SSD benefits. These disabilities are set forth on a scheduled list of conditions provided by the SSA. If your condition is not on this list, the governmental agency will decide if your disability is as serious as one of the listed impairments.
  • Can you perform the type of jobs which you have executed in the past? In the event that you are able to execute the work you did previously, in all probability you will not be eligible for SSD benefits. If you are not able to execute those tasks, the fact finder will check the final question in the disability process.
  • Are you able to do any work? If you are not able to perform any of your previous jobs, the agency will the check to decide if you can perform any kind of work. Your health condition, age, education level, prior work experience and any other applicable job skills will be taken into account during this process.
Can I Appeal a Denial of Benefits?

Reconsideration, sometimes referred to as an appeal, is the next step in the claims process. Your petition will be reviewed by a fact finder who was not involved the first decision. If your appeal is once again denied, you can then appeal this decision and request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). You will once again have the chance to put forth your case as well as present other information, evidence and the appropriate witnesses, which may include medical and/or vocational experts, to help your claim. If you are once again denied Social Security benefits, you may request one more review by the SSA Appeals Council and eventually appeal to the Federal Court if need be.

In order to move your case efficiently, it makes the most sense to find a lawyer at the beginning of the application process, to help ensure that you have fully completed your application with the appropriate information. This will reduce that chance that your claim will be refused. Since most applications are denied at the initial stage, an experienced attorney will be essential to help move your application through the reconsideration and hearing stages.

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