Social Security Disability Claims
If you’re facing a long-term disability, it can be scary wondering how you’ll make ends meet. Aside from your medical care, there are basic cost of living concerns, as well as worries about your children or disabled family members. Fortunately, our social safety net protects those who have put in years of work, paying into the Social Security system, but who find themselves forced out of their jobs by disability before retirement age.
Social Security disability programs make monthly payments to disabled individuals or certain family members who are unable to work. The payments are based on the individual’s work history and earnings. At full retirement age, they convert to regular Social Security benefits.
Determining your eligibility for Social Security disability programs can be a lengthy process—one that’s hard to navigate without a Macon Social Security disability lawyer. To make a successful claim, you’ll need the right documents and medical information from your doctors. Claims also need to be filed accurately and in a timely manner to give you the best chance of being awarded Social Security disability benefits.
How does Social Security define “disabled”?
While many people experience injuries (either on the job or away from it) or illnesses that result in disability, the Social Security Administration has its own narrow definition of disability. To be considered disabled:
- You can’t do the work you did before.
- You can’t adjust to other work because of the condition, as judged by the Social Security Administration.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
When applying for disability in Georgia, you can expect not only a lot of questions regarding your diagnosis, condition, and treatment but questions regarding your work and previous work experience, as well. Social Security needs to determine if you can return to your job despite your disability, or if you can reasonably perform other work. By looking at the skills you learned on your job, your education, your training and your age, the Social Security Administration attempts to make a decision about whether there’s other work available for which you’d be qualified.
Social Security disability programs aren’t meant to support individuals or their families through short-term disabilities that could instead be covered by insurance, workers’ compensation, savings or other resources.
Types of Social Security Benefits
There are also several types of benefits that can be claimed.
Regular Disability Benefits: Regular disability benefits depends on how much you have paid into the social security system via taxes. Benefits start five months after you have been disabled.
Supplemental Security Income: Supplemental security income is made for those who do not have other sources of income. You have to meet the financial requirements of social security in order to apply for this benefit.
Widow/Widowers Disability Benefits: This type of benefit was created for the spouse of a deceased person who was already insured by social security. You are entitled to a percentage of the benefits if you, as the widow, are disabled.
Disabled Adult Child Benefits: A person is considered a disabled adult child if they have been disabled and unable to work before the age of 22. A disabled adult child may be eligible to receive these benefits if their parents have been paying into social security.
Blind Benefits: Blind benefits are available to a person who is legally blind or meets the social security definition of blindness.
How do I qualify?
Meeting the Social Security Administration’s definition of disabled isn’t enough to receive disability payments. You also must have worked enough time in jobs covered by Social Security and be considered “insured.” A credit system helps determine if you’ve worked enough and worked recently enough to qualify.
How can the process move faster?
There have been many recent stories about the growing wait time for Social Security disability approval. The average wait time has shot up to nearly two years, and sadly, some people even die while waiting for approval.
If you’re facing a long-term disability, you’ll want to get your claim moving as quickly as possible. A Social Security disability lawyer in Macon can help file your claim, easing your work of pulling together countless medical and work documents. An attorney can also follow up on your case, making sure the disability examiner keeps you up to date on where the application stands.
There are also two programs designed to help move the application process along within the Social Security Administration. Compassionate Allowances open up the possibility of immediate qualification after the diagnosis of a disease such as pancreatic cancer or ALS. Quick Disability Determinations use an advanced computer program to screen cases that have a higher probability of qualification.
Can I work again?
If your disability improves and you’re able to return to your job, you’ll no longer qualify for disability as you can again support yourself and your family. The programs do typically allow individuals to earn a small amount of income, (it varies year to year, but generally, $1,000 a month or less), and keep benefits. Additionally, work incentives allow people to transition back to work overtime without losing the support and medical assistance they rely on. And, of course, once you hit retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits.
Social Security benefits for veterans
Due to the unique nature of their service and work history, many veterans wonder if they are eligible for Social Security disability programs, or if their service-related pensions or benefits will affect their eligibility.
Military service counts toward your work history. This means that if you are pursuing SSDI as veteran, you’ll simply need to meet the same requirements as someone with a civilian work history: proving that your medical condition prevents your return to work and demonstrating that you’ve earned enough work credits to qualify as insured.
If you are applying for SSI, however, your veteran status may complicate matters. Any income you receive, whether from a pension or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs benefits, may make you ineligible for SSI. It’s important that you speak to a Macon disability lawyer to be sure you apply for the benefits that best suit your unique situation.
Veterans may also be eligible for special processing from the Social Security Administration. For those who have been deemed 100 percent disabled by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security will prioritize the claim. To expedite your claim, you must first receive a VA Compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent & Total, then cite that claim when applying for Social Security benefits.
If you become disabled while on active duty military service, you’re also eligible for expedited processing of your claim, even if your disability is not related to your work.
Legal Counsel is Important: Disability Lawyers in GA
Whether you’re a retiree, a disabled person or representative of someone who has a disabling medical condition that prevents work, it’s important to have a disability lawyer in Macon helping you navigate the claims process. The attorneys at Buzzell, Welsh & Hill are some of the top disability lawyers in GA and come to the table with years of experience in making the difficult process move as smoothly as possible. For your free consultation, contact us today either online or by calling (478) 217-2072.