Are you thinking of applying for Social Security Disability? Ask yourself these 7 questions before you apply.
Every year the Social Security Administration (SSA) receives over 2 million applications for Social Security Disability benefits. Of these applications, only 30 percent are approved at the initial stage of the application process. Oftentimes, initial applications are denied due to a lack of information, misunderstanding of the disability requirements or improper preparation of the evidence provided. If you are filing an application for disability benefits, understanding the requirements and what is expected of you can help increase your chances of a favorable decision. Before applying for Social Security benefits, it’s good to ask yourself the following questions.
Question #1 – Have I Accrued Enough Work Credits?
There are two types of Social Security benefits available to disabled individuals. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits (SSDI) which are for individuals who have accumulated enough work credits to qualify for disability benefits. Workers who pay into the Social Security program usually receive four credits per year. The number of credits needed to qualify for SSDI benefits will vary depending on your age and your work history.
If you do not have enough credits to qualify for SSDI benefits, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI). Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based disability program.
To qualify for SSI payments your household income and cannot own more than $2,000 in assets as well as meet the following qualifications:
- Are between the ages of 18 and 65
- You must be out of work or expect to be out of work for one full year.
- If you are working and your gross earnings average more than $1,040 each month, you will not be eligible for benefits
- Your medical condition must be severe enough to limit your ability to do basic work activities. Examples of this would be having difficulty with standing, walking or sitting. Your disability must be expected to last for at least one full year.
- Your medical condition must be described in the Social Security list of impairments blue book
- Your condition prevents you from doing the work you did before as well as prevents you from doing any other work
- You are a U.S. citizen residing in one of the fifty states, District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands
- Haven’t applied for or received SSI benefits in the past
Question #2 – Do I Have Proper Medical Evidence?
Your medical records play the biggest role in whether or not you are qualified to receive Social Security Disability benefits. If you do not have the proper medical records, your application for disability is likely to be denied. Gather up all copies of your medical records before filing your disability claim and make sure those records include documentation of your disability and how it interferes with your ability to work.
Question #3 – Will My Doctor Provide a Statement Confirming You Are Disabled?
If your doctor is willing to provide a written affirmation attesting to the fact that your disability prevents you from working you will be much more likely to be approved for social security disability benefits. Discuss your plan to apply for benefits with the doctor or doctors who are treating your condition and ask them if they are willing to provide a written statement regarding your condition and how it affects your ability to perform substantial gainful work activity.
Question #4 – Do I Need to Continue My Treatment?
The SSA mandates that you continue with all medical treatments that your doctor has prescribed for you. Whether it’s continuing therapy or taking certain medications you must continue all prescribed medical protocol.
Question #5 – Do I Have to Attend the Consultative Exam?
In most cases the SSA examiner will request that you go in for a consultative exam with a medical professional assigned to you to determine the extent of your disabling condition. Many applicants wonder if they are required to attend this exam in order to receive disability benefits. The answer to this question is yes. If you hope to receive disability payments, you will need to attend the consultative exam if one is requested.
Question #6 – Can I Work While Applying for Disability?
It is possible to work and also file for disability benefits. However, this is a bit of a tricky matter. It can take months or even years to be approved for Social Security Disability benefits. With Social Security Disability Insurance, you can’t earn more than what is considered “substantial gainful activity” or SGA that will disqualify you for benefits. For 2019, SGA is set at $1,220 per month.
Question #7 – Do I Need a Lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to apply for disability but it certainly helps. If your initial application is denied and 60% of them are, it may be in your best interest to retain the services of a qualified Social Security Disability attorney. Statistics show that individuals who are represented by an attorney during the disability appeal process are more likely to receive a favorable outcome than those who are not.
Filing for disability can be a complex and confusing topic. Understanding the information above can help you in obtaining a favorable decision regarding your disability application. If, for some reason, your application for disability benefits is denied, you should consider hiring a Social Security Disability attorney to file an appeal regarding the decision.
The experts at The Disability Champions can help you. Give us a call today for a free evaluation.