Do you have social security disability questions? If so, we’ve got answers. Click here for the most FAQs about SSD, plus their answers.
Social Security covers everyone. Yet not everyone receives Social Security disability benefits.
In 2017, the Social Security Administration received 1.8 million applications for insurance benefits. They approved the claims of 32 percent of them.
There are many reasons why a mere one in three applicants get benefits. One reason is complexity. Social Security disability questions are not easy to answer, so applicants supply incomplete or inaccurate answers.
What questions does Social Security disability ask? Who can qualify for benefits? What other programs can an applicant receive?
Resolve your uncertainty and get started on an application that will get approved. Here is your guide.
Who Is Eligible for Benefits?
To become eligible for Social Security disability, you must meet several requirements. You must have worked in jobs that Social Security covers.
You receive work credits based on your yearly wages or self-employment income. The amount needed to obtain one credit varies, but in 2021, you earn one for every 1,470 dollars that you report on your tax forms. You can earn up to four credits in one year.
For the most part, people need 40 credits to receive benefits. They must have earned 20 credits in the last 10 years, ending in the year you received your disability.
It does not matter how young or old you are. What matters is how many credits you receive.
Younger workers can qualify based on a couple of different factors. Before the age of 24, a worker can qualify if they earned 6 credits in the last 3 years.
If the worker is between 24 and 31, they must have credit for half the time between age 21 and their disability. If they became disabled at 23, they must have four credits to qualify.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays survivors benefits based on credits. This will occur if a worker earned six in the three years before their death. Payouts go to their spouse and dependent children.
What Counts as a Disability?
In addition to earning credits, a person must have a disability. The Social Security Administration recognizes a wide range of medical conditions as disabilities.
But being diagnosed with a certain medical condition is not enough. Each condition has its own guidelines, especially dealing with documentation.
For example, leukemia is covered under Social Security. But the SSA limits recipients to acute leukemia and chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Acute or chronic leukemia must impair a person for at least 24 months after diagnosis or relapse. A person can also qualify if they are impaired for at least 12 months after bone marrow or stem cell transplantation.
An applicant must provide extensive documentation. Cancer patients need to provide evidence about the type, extent, and site of their lesions. When discussing operative procedures, they must include operative notes and pathology reports.
Do Psychological Conditions Count?
Psychological conditions do count as disabling conditions. You should review the list of impairments carefully before assuming that your condition counts. But most major conditions do.
Schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder count. But each of these conditions has its own set of requirements.
A person with schizophrenia must show they have experienced delusions, disorganized thinking, and/or catatonia. The applicant must have medical documentation substantiating their claim. They must have at least one limitation in mental functioning, such as an inability to concentrate.
Depression must manifest through five separate symptoms, like decreased energy and thoughts of suicide. Like with schizophrenia, an applicant must show an extreme limitation in mental functioning.
Post-traumatic stress disorder is difficult to prove. A person must have medical documentation for five separate symptoms, including exposure to death, injury, or violence. They must show an extreme limitation in mental functioning as well.
The SSA does count intellectual disabilities. But the applicant must prove that they suffered from it before they turned 21. An applicant does not have to prove early signs for autism spectrum disorder.
What Are Compassionate Allowances?
The Compassionate Allowances program provides benefits to advanced or complex diseases. Applicants with these diseases can receive an expedited claims process as short as 10 days.
Some diseases require only a diagnosis for the SSA to make a payout. They include early-onset Alzheimer’s disease and esophageal cancer. Others like non-small cell lung cancer require proof that the disease has become advanced.
Compassionate Allowances are processed through similar means as normal applicants. An applicant can mark their application for Compassionate Allowances. The SSA will then process them separately from others.
Can Applicants Get Benefits for Partial Disability?
You cannot receive benefits for partial disability, regardless of how debilitating it may be. You cannot receive benefits if you will recover and return to work.
You should instead apply for workers’ compensation. You may be able to receive insurance payouts, especially if you were disabled from a workplace accident.
What Is Supplemental Security Income?
The SSA runs Supplemental Security Income (SSI). But it is separate from disability benefits.
SSI is funded through general taxes, not Social Security ones. It is for elderly, blind, and disabled people who live at low incomes. They can receive money to meet their basic needs, namely food and shelter.
You must be a United States resident in order to apply. You cannot be confined to an institution like a hospital or a prison. You must apply for other benefits, including Social Security disability.
A person with countable resources above 2,000 dollars cannot receive SSI. It is a good option for people at a very low income, but people with savings should look elsewhere.
How Does the Social Security Administration Determine Disability?
The SSA determines a person’s disability based on several counts. A person must be incapable of completing the work that they did previously. This includes working a desk job or performing manual labor.
A person must be unable to transition to another job. It does not matter if the applicant has no training or experience in anything else. If they can perform any other type of work, they count as able.
The duration of the disability must exceed one year. An applicant can apply for benefits before one year has passed, though their chances of success are low. The duration can be shorter if the disability will result in their death.
If an applicant is working and earns more than 1,310 dollars per month, the SSA will not consider them disabled. It does not matter if their condition will eventually get worse.
What Questions Are Asked at a Social Security Disability Hearing?
If the SSA rejects your application, you can appeal it in a hearing before an administrative law judge. During a hearing, the judge will explain the issues relating to your application. They will then interview witnesses, both from your side and from the SSA.
The judge can ask a variety of questions. If you bring your doctor, the judge will ask about your condition. They will ask about how you have been treated for it and what the prognosis is.
If you bring your boss, the judge will ask about your ability to perform at work. They may ask about the work environment and whether you can adapt to another profession. They may ask about your personal performance through time.
If you attend, you can expect the judge to ask you questions. You should prepare to provide personal details about the nature of your disability and why you want benefits.
The SSA may hire a vocational expert (VE). A VE is someone who considers your condition, then advises the judge on what jobs you can perform.
The judge will ask them hypothetical questions. They will consider what someone with your documented limitations can do. They will take into account how much weight you can lift, how long you can stand for, and what accommodations you may need.
What Does a Lawyer Do?
You are not required to have a lawyer at your Social Security disability hearing. But it is important that you hire one.
A disability attorney can gather evidence that defends your application. They have knowledge of a number of medical conditions, so they can put things in terms the judge will understand. They can find expert witnesses who will speak to your specific case.
An attorney is most prominent when they cross-examine witnesses. They can challenge the VE if they claim that you can work.
If you do not want to go to the hearing itself, an attorney will speak on your behalf. If you need to reschedule the hearing, your attorney will find the right date for you.
Get Answers for Your Social Security Disability Questions
There are a lot of Social Security disability questions. But you don’t have to live in uncertainty.
To receive benefits, you must earn at least 40 credits. You must have a disabling condition that keeps you from working entirely.
Compassionate Allowances are for rare and advanced diseases. SSI is for lower-income people. You cannot receive partial benefits.
At a hearing, you will receive many personal questions. Get help from an attorney.
Find someone with compassion and experience. Fitzpatrick and Associates is Boston’s leading Social Security disability firm. Contact us today.