Helping You Receive the SSD Benefits To Which You Are Entitled
Social Security Disability benefits assist individuals who have worked and paid taxes into the Social Security system but who have become disabled and are in need of assistance. SSD differs from Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in that it is only available for those individuals who have accumulated a sufficient number of work credits. SSI benefits, on the other hand, are available to low income individuals who have never worked or who have not accumulated sufficient work credits to qualify for SSD.
Social Security Disability benefits are provided using payroll taxes. Recipients of SSD benefits are considered “insured” because they have worked for a certain number of years and made contributions to their work credits. The program is also referred to as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for this reason.
The Five Step Evaluation Process for Determining Disability
The five step process briefly detailed below is used by the Social Security Admininstration to determine if an individual is “disabled” and entitled to receive SSD benefits. At each step, the regulations and rulings define terms with very precise meanings. These mainings that are not necessarily the same as on would expect. Your SSDI attorney will provide you with more detailed information and assist in completion of each step.
1. Are you engaged in substantial gainful activity?
If you are working and make over a certain amount of money ($1,070 per month in 2014), you will likely be considered “engaged in a substantial gainful activity.” If you earn above the substantial gainful activity (SGA) level, even if you are disabled and meet other criteria, you will not qualify for SSD benefits. If you fall under the SGA limit, proceed to step two.
2. Is your medical condition “severe”?
A “severe” condition is any medical condition (or combination of medical conditions) that intereferes with your ability to do work-related activities. You must have a medical diagnosis and laboratory findings documenting the existence of your physical or mental medical condition. Furthermore, the medical condition and resulting impairment must have been present for 12 or expected to last for at least 12 months. Even subjective symptoms, such as pain, can be considered “severe” if they arise from a medical condition. If your documented medical condition interferes with basic work-related activities then you will proceed to the nexty step.
3. Is your medical condition found in the SSA's list of disabling conditions?
The SSA maintains an official list of medical conditions and associated symptoms that are considered so severe that they will automatically find that you are disabled. The list is called the Listings if Impairments. The Listing of Impairments includes the conditions below:
- Cardiac/Vascular Disorders
- Sleep Disorders
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Health Disorders
- Bipolar Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Fibromyalgia Disability
- Blood Disorders
- Auto-Immune Diseases/AIDS and HIV
- Orthopedic Injuries
- Arm Injuries
- Leg, Knee & Ankle Disorders and Injuries
- Hip Injuries
- Back Injuries and Diseases
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Renal Failure Disability
- Stomach, Intestine and Liver Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorder Disability
- Kidney Failure Disability
- Pulmonary Disorders/Lung Diseases
- Asthma Disability
- Hepatitis Disability
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome Disability
- Liver Disease Disability
- Seizures Disability
- Multiple Sclerosis Disability
If the diagnosis, symptoms, impairments, and test results in your medical records match the listing criteria for one of the above medical conditions, the process stops. You are disabled and entitled to receive SSD benefits. If your impairment is not listed, you may still be eligible for benefits, but more intensive inquiry will be involved.
4. Can you do any of the jobs that you did in the past?
The SSA compares your current functional capacity with the physical and mental demands of your past jobs. You have to show why your medical condition prevents you from doing any of the jobs that you had over the last 15 years. This can include part-time jobs. And, the SSA evaluates jobs as they are ordinarily done even if your actual job required greater exertion. If the SSA finds that you can do these jobs your claim will be denied. If not, they wil proceed to the next step.
5. Can you perform any other job?
If your impairment prevents you from performing your prior work, the SSA will then check if you can adjust to other jobs that considering your age, education, remaining work capacity and work experience. If you cannot make an adjustment to other jobs, your claim will be aproved.
SSD & SSI Myths
Often, people hold off applying for SSI or SSD benefits because they believe one of the myths listed below. Do not miss out on obtaining the benefits you deserve—contact The Shigo Law Firm, P.A. for more information concerning your eligibility.
Myth #1: You are not allowed to work if you are applying for disability benefits.
There is a common belief among the public that you cannot work if you are applying for Social Security Disability benefits. This is not necessarily true. You can apply for SSD benefits even if you are working, so long as your monthly gross income does not exceed the maximum dollar amount set yearly by the government.
Myth #2: The Social Security Administration denies all applicants the first time they apply for SSI or SSD benefits.
While the Social Security Administration does deny many claims at first, it is definitely possible to win your case the first time you apply. The Shigo Law Firm, P.A. has handled countless SSI and SSD applications, providing us with the experience necessary to submit a successful first claim. All applicants should remember that a denial does not mean the end of the process; you have the right to appeal a negative decision and applicants win their appeal with the help of a skilled SSI or SSD benefits attorney.
Myth #3: Younger individuals cannot win a disability case.
People in their twenties or thirties often believe it is impossible to succeed in their disability claim. This, however, is simply not true. If you have a disability that will prevent you from working for one year or more and a work history, you may be eligible for benefits regardless of your age.
Myth #4: Certain diseases will automatically qualify you for disability benefits.
Some individuals are overly confident in the application process because they believe their disease will automatically qualify them for benefits. This is not the case. While certain impairments will simplify the processing of your application, the SSA looks to the impact of the disease on your ability to work, not the disease itself. The information provided by your healthcare provider will be the most important criteria.
The Shigo Law Firm, P.A.: We Deal With the Government So You Don't Have To
Successfully applying for SSD benefits can be complex, time-consuming, and frustrating. At The Shigo Law Firm, P.A., we have the experience and resources to assist you in obtaining SSD benefits. Schedule your initial consultation by calling our Gainesville office at (352) 338–1988 or our Ocala office at (352) 369–3476. We look forward to providing you with exemplary legal services.