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Should I file for Social Security Disability Benefits?

medical lawyer

Social Security disability benefits are monetary and health benefits that are managed by the federal government. This is a government-run insurance program set in place to help working members of society in the event they find themselves in a position where they are unable to work. This inability to work must be directly related to a medical condition, either physical or mental. In general, when you work you pay taxes into the social security system. This is a mandatory tax set up and run by the federal government. Those taxes that you pay go directly towards disability insurance coverage. As mentioned, this program is mandatory for anyone who is working and paying taxes.

Rather than the disability insurance program be managed by private insurance companies, it is administered through the federal government. With a normal insurance program, you would pay a monthly premium for that insurance. With social security disability, your “monthly premium” is the amount you are paying in taxes for this government “insurance.” For you to have disability insurance coverage from the federal government you must have worked the past 5 out of 10 years, paying taxes on those earnings.

If you lack a work history or have never paid taxes into the social security disability program, it is possible you may be eligible under the federal supplemental security income program. This is seen as a financial needs-based program or a federal welfare type of program. To qualify for supplemental security income benefits you must meet the financial requirements along with the medical requirements.

While both programs have differing initial requirements, they both have the same medical requirements. Meaning, you must show you meet social security’s definition of disability to qualify for the program from a medical standpoint.

If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to work because of a medical condition, and you have been working consistently, paying taxes on your income, you should consider applying for the social security disability insurance program.

When filing an application for disability benefits, the Social Security Administration will evaluate your claim using a five-step process.

Step 1:

The first step in the process is determining if you are performing the substantial gainful activity. They will consider if you are currently working. If you are, you must show your current working earnings are less than substantial gainful activity. This is a monetary monthly amount of earnings that if you exceed you will automatically be disqualified from receiving disability benefits. The substantial gainful activity amount for 2021 is $1,310. If your monthly earnings exceed $1,310 in gross, before taxes, you will be denied disability benefits. In the event, you are not working, or your monthly income is less than SGA, then social security will move to Step 2 of the analysis.

Step 2:

Takes a closer look at your medical conditions. They consider whether your conditions cause you an impairment that is deemed severe. To be found to have a severe impairment you must show your conditions cause more than a minimal impact upon your ability to work. This standard is relatively low. Most often, if your conditions interfere in some way with your ability to work, social security will find that you meet the severity requirement at Step 2. It should be noted if you are not receiving any medical treatment for your conditions it will be hard to prove your conditions are severe. As long as SSA makes a finding of severity on at least one condition, then social security will move on to step 3.

Step 3:

Consider whether your medical conditions meet or equals one of the listed conditions Social Security has found to be automatically disabling. Social security has come up with a list of conditions that are thought to be so disabling that if you have the medical evidence to prove the condition you will be found automatically disabled. To meet a social security listing, you will need to show medical evidence supporting not only your diagnosis but also your limitations. There are a total of 14 listing categories, each with a number of medical conditions and medical requirements for each. They can be found directly on the SSA website. If the condition you suffer from is not one of the listed conditions that do not mean you are not disabled. It simply means your claim for benefits requires further evaluation. The same goes for if your condition does not exactly meet or equal a listing, your case will then move on to step 4 of the evaluation.

Before moving on to step 4 there is almost a step 3 and 1/2 in this evaluation process. At this point, Social security will consider your medical conditions and how they impact your functional ability, or ability to perform work-related tasks. This is seen as determining your residual functional capacity. Your residual functional capacity (RFC) is an assessment of your symptoms and limitations. This assessment considers your maximum activity level.

Once your residual functional capacity is determined, Social Security will then review your case under Step 4. Step 4 looks at whether you are capable of performing your past relevant work, in spite of your residual functional capacity. Past relevant work is classified as any work you have performed in the past 15 years in which you worked long enough to learn the job. If it is found your medical conditions prevent you from performing your past relevant work then social security will move your case on to step 5 of the evaluation. If you are found capable of performing your past work then your case will be denied at this point, seen as a Step 4 denial.

Step 4:

The final step considers your ability to perform or adjust to other work in the national economy. Social security will consider your residual functional capacity along with job requirements in the national economy. This is usually done through a vocational expert, someone who is familiar with the job market and work requirements.  This determination includes a job you have never performed and probably have never heard of. If SSA finds you are not able to adjust to other work then you will be found disabled. However, if you are found able to perform other work in spite of your limitations, SSA will not find you disabled. Because this is the final step in the analysis if you are found not to be disabled then the process is over.

The number one reason to file for social security disability benefits is if you are unable to work due to any medical condition. If you find yourself in that position, you should be applying for disability benefits. As you can see from the five-step evaluation social security will perform in determining your eligibility for benefits, this process can be quite confusing. At the LaBovick Law Group, we have helped thousands of people obtain these benefits. We are here to help navigate you through this process. The best part is that we only get paid if we can secure your benefits.

Contact us today at the LaBovick Law Group for help winning you disability benefits (561) 623-3681.

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