This question is much more difficult to answer than most people think it is. A doctor in Memphis, Tennessee or the greater mid-south area of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi or Louisiana, rarely comes into an examination room and says, “You have a disability.” A doctor only tells you that you have a certain medical condition. That condition may or may not be disabling. And how many of us actually think about being disabled when we go into the doctor’s office? We are usually looking for good news, or at least the good news of a possible treatment, cure, or pill. Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm helps those in our area of the country, answer this question…am I disabled and can I qualify for Social Security Disability?
The fact is, almost any medical condition could be disabling. It’s simply easier to prove a disability for SSD qualifying purposes, if the medical condition is listed in the Blue Book. This is not to say that people with non-listed conditions are not eligible for SSD benefits. It simply means that these conditions will involve additional medical documentation and time for your Heermans attorney to process. In fact, there are certain conditions that usually warrant immediate approval of disability payment and medical support from the government called Compassionate Allowance.
These types of benefits could be up to $3,000 per month. If you cannot work, or can only work part time, imagine what that financial support would mean to you and your family. Not to mention, other benefits that may be available as well.
To help answer the eternal, “am I disabled” question, we put together a brief yes/no quiz. Note that the questions in this quiz don’t go into any specifics about your medical condition. In many ways, your medical condition is almost secondary to being able to answer the, “am I disabled” question. Instead, to a Heermans Social Security Disability lawyer, the primary question that needs to be answered is, “are you working and why can you not work?”
Are You Over Fifty?
If you’re under fifty, relax. People under fifty can qualify for disability benefits, if they meet the qualifications listed below. Applicants over age fifty must meet these qualifications as well. Your case is simply seen from a different viewpoint by a Disability Qualification Officer if you are over fifty. Some exceptions do apply to people of this age regarding their functional ability and previous employment, but usually there is a more lenient, or liberal opportunity for disability approval, if you are over 50 years old.
Have You Worked Over the Past Fifteen Years?
Much like Social Security retirement benefits, the Social Security disability benefit system is what financial planners call a defined contribution plan. You’re eligible for benefits based on the amount of money you paid into the system while you were working.
But SSD isn’t exactly like a 401(k) or most other kinds of defined contribution plans. Instead, would-be SSD recipients must only have enough recent work credits to qualify for benefits. These benefits usually greatly exceed the amount of Social Security taxes the individual has paid.
The exact rules are very complex. The rule of thumb is that if you paid taxes five out of the last ten years, you most likely have enough work credits to qualify for SSD. There are other rules that apply to this calculation that involve whether or not you are/were married to a working spouse and other such conditions. Also, this rule does not apply to children (of course). This is just one of the few reasons why it is a good idea to not go about applying for SSD/SSDI on your own information and judgment. A Heermans lawyer goes to school for many years just for this purpose, to help YOU apply for these benefits!
If you don’t meet that work requirement, don’t give up. You may be eligible for supplemental security income (SSI), a program that’s similar to welfare. A Social Security office must determine eligibility. A disability lawyer cannot do this application for you. You either qualify for SSI based on the math, or you don’t.
Are You Working Now?
Properly stated, this question should be “Do your monthly earnings exceed the statutory minimum?” But we’ll go with “are you working” since that phrase is more straightforward. According to the SSA, individuals are “working” if they earn more than $1,470 a month. For full-time individuals, that breaks down to about $340 a week, $75 a day, and $9 an hour. These figures are gross income, not net income. Most people who earn this amount of money are eligible for an (Earned Income Credit) EIC.
It gets complicated if, like most would-be SSD recipients, you work part time and don’t work the same amount of hours every month. Furthermore, some SGA (substantial gainful activity) exceptions apply. In some cases, the threshold could be as high as $2,460 a month.
When you meet with a Heermans Social Security Disability attorney, bring your last few paystubs, and they will run through some calculations and figure it out.
Does Your Physical, Mental, or Other Disability Prevent You From Working?
Look at this question carefully. Your disability, not your fear, must impede your ability to work. Assume Sarah has PTSD nightmares because she was a sexual assault victim. Since she often doesn’t sleep well, she often has a hard time getting up, and she tries to go to bed early. So, because of her interrupted sleep schedule, she only works afternoons at a call center.
A state Disability Determination Services officer might conclude, based on that evidence, that Sarah’s preferences, not her PTSD, prevents her from working full-time at a higher-paying job. That may seem like splitting hairs, but it’s just the kind of hair that many DDS Officers are trained to focus on and be able to split.
Incidentally, disabled people must also be unable to work another job. For example; If Sarah has a law degree, she could probably transition to another career. Many lawyers and paralegals work odd hours or weekends.
Are You Taking Any Prescription Medication?
You’re eligible for bonus points on this quiz if you can name the 1988 Barry Levinson film that featured this quote. Unfortunately, these bonus points don’t count toward SSD benefits. Just a little humor to lighten things up here.
Once again, disability claims are easier to prove if the applicant is taking medication as prescribed but the symptoms persist. Pain pills might be able to help people with back disabilities make it through the day more often than not. But “more often than not” might not be enough to make them employable.
Furthermore, in terms of your SSD application, there’s a difference between medication ingestion (taking of the pills) and medication availability (being able to purchase or get them from the pharmacy).
Epilepsy, one of the most common disabling medical conditions, is a good example. In many cases, Dilantin reduces seizure risk to zero. But this powerful medicine has powerful side-effects.
Even at low levels, Dilantin causes gum hyperplasia, or swelling and enlargement. So, people with other medical conditions, like gingivitis, may not be able to take Dilantin. At high levels, this medicine can cause headaches and other neurological effects. Thus, people with severe epilepsy may be unable to tolerate the dosage needed to control their seizures.
These are just a few of the issues that can arise when it comes to questions surrounding, “are you taking any medications” and why it is a good idea to have the knowledgeable support of a Heermans attorney and your doctor.
If you’re dying to know, the answer to our quiz within a quiz is Rain Man.
When Was the Last Time You Went to the Doctor?
We admit that sounds like a question your mother might ask. Much like the age question, this question isn’t a deal breaker. But it is an important question that a professional attorney will ask you, if you are wanting to know if you might qualify for disability benefits or if your application for benefits has been denied. These are just some of the most important questions to ask yourself to see if you are disabled. For more information about SSD eligibility, and a FREE disability evaluation, contact the Heermans Social Security Disability Law Firm 24/7 via phone or text at (901) 244-0057. More value added FREE information can be found in our online article library.
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