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THE SSA ADMINISTERS TWO DISABILITY BENEFIT PROGRAMS AT THE FEDERAL LEVEL
The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two disability benefits programs at the federal level: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). If you have suffered a disability, these programs can be life rafts allowing you to stay afloat financially. Many people who apply, however, are unfairly denied benefits and need a lawyer to help them.
At Groth & Associations, our Toledo Social Security disability lawyers have obtained benefits for countless people. If you have questions, please give us a call. This is a time-sensitive area of law, so avoid any delay.
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Disabilities that Qualify for Benefits
To qualify for SSDI, your disability must significantly impair your ability to work. You must meet the following:
- You can’t do the work you used to.
- You cannot adjust to other work because of your condition.
- Your disability has lasted for one year or is expected to last for one year or result in your death.
SSA will also look to see if your medical condition is on a list it keeps of illnesses and injuries so severe that they interfere with your ability to perform gainful employment. If your condition is not on the list, then SSA will decide on a case-by-case basis whether your condition is equivalent to any of those listed. If it is, you should be approved for benefits.
For example, you might strain a muscle in your leg, which needs ice, compression, and elevation. However, this type of injury is not expected to last a year or more, so you don’t qualify. But if you are partially paralyzed in your left-hand side, then you could qualify for benefits.
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Earning Enough Credits to Qualify
SSA DOES NOT EXTEND BENEFITS TO EVERYONE. YOU MUST HAVE SUFFICIENT WORK CREDITS.
SSA does not extend benefits to everyone. You must have sufficient work “credits,” which you earn by working in jobs that qualify and paying into the Social Security system. For example, in 2019, you will earn one credit for each $1,360 in income, up to 4 credits in a year.
Generally, you need 40 credits to qualify for SSDI. You must have earned at least half of those credits in the past 10 years, which means you need recent work history.
There are exceptions for younger workers, who can qualify for benefits with fewer work credits. Others can also qualify for SSDI benefits without work history, such as those who are blind or who are a disabled adult child. If you have a question about whether you have enough credits, look at your annual report from SSA, which should tell you whether you qualify.
Qualifying for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is another federal program that is less well known than SSDI. However, SSI is an important source of income that can help keep disabled people above the poverty line.
Unlike SSDI, Supplemental Security Income is means tested. You must have limited income and resources to qualify. SSA will not count all resources, so don’t immediately assume that you don’t qualify for benefits. SSA encourages anyone who thinks that they might qualify to apply, and you should consult a Toledo Social Security disability attorney for assistance.
How an Attorney Can Help
For some people, the application process runs smoothly. Unfortunately, many people struggle to get approved for disability benefits even when they have a valid disability. In fact, the approval rate for initial applications is only 30% in Ohio. Your application should be reviewed by someone in the SSA office, who will send you a notice stating whether you are receiving benefits or were denied.
If SSA denies your application, you have the right to appeal if you request one promptly. An attorney can help you pull together the necessary evidence to show you deserve benefits. For example, you might need updated medical records that show the true severity of your injury. Additional tests or exams can also help bolster your case.
An experienced attorney is also skilled at arguing that your condition is equivalent in severity to one of the listed conditions identified by SSA. These are often the hardest cases to bring.
An appeal is usually held before an administrative law judge, and your lawyer can present the evidence in a logical way that makes sense. In Ohio, the approval rate on appeal is much higher—around 60%.
The appeals process has tight deadlines that are pretty much non-negotiable, so any delay might hurt your case. If you receive a denial notice, quickly contact an attorney to protect yourself.
Working While on Disability
SSDI is limited to those who are truly disabled. However, the government also wants to encourage disabled people to try and get back into the workforce without immediately endangering their benefits. For 9 months, anyone receiving disability benefits can return to work and still receive disability. They can also earn any amount of money during that 9-month period.
After 9 months, you can continue to work for 3 years so long as your earnings are not “substantial,” which SSA defines as earnings over $1,220 in a month.
Many questions arise about working while receiving benefits, such as what happens if you are trying to become self-employed or if you have work-related expenses that could be deducted from your earnings. Some people also earn too much in one month and fear their benefits will immediately be cut off. Consult with an attorney for help analyzing your situation.
SSDI and Workers’ Compensation
Receiving workers’ compensation benefits does not disqualify you from receiving SSDI. However, you probably cannot receive the maximum amount from both programs. Instead, Ohio has an offset law, where your benefits will be reduced so you do not exceed 80% of your pre-injury income. An attorney will have more information.
Reach Out to an SSDI Lawyer in Toledo for Help
When disability strikes, it is normal to fear for your future. You might have many questions: How will you pay your bills when you cannot work any longer? Will you lose your home?
Also, the SSDI application process can be confusing, especially if your initial application is rejected, so you might have questions about the next steps to take
We can help you qualify for benefits. Give Groth & Associates a call, 419-482-1176. We offer a free initial consultation.