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Articles Posted in Social Security Disability

If I become sick or injured and can no longer work, should I wait at  least 12 months before applying for Social Security Disability benefits? How long must you be unable to work before applying for Social Security Disability benefits? What if you are suddenly and unexpectedly injured or become ill to such an extent that you are unable to work? Many people are under the mistaken belief that you must wait for several months or even a year before applying or collecting Social Security disability benefits. In fact, there are no requirements that you be disabled for a certain amount of time before applying for Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) or supplemental security insurance (SSI). The important factor is whether you meet what the Social Security Administration calls
the 12 month durational requirement.

What is the 12 month durational requirement?

The 12 month durational requirement states that to be found disabled, Social Security must determine that you are unable to engage in any substantial gainful activity due to your illness or injury and that your impairment or impairments are expected to last for 12 consecutive months or are likely to result in death. Continue Reading

Suppose your valid Social Security Disability claim is denied today, and you appeal that denial.  How long will it be before your hearing is held in Upstate South Carolina?  The wait could be up to 16 months! That is nearly a year and a half – on average – that you’ll have to wait before your appeal is heard, regardless of the validity of your need.

That bracing statistic is accurate as of December 2014 and can be found in the Social Security Administration’s online Public Data Files.  The Average Wait Time Until Hearing Held Report presents the average number of months from the hearing request date until a hearing is held for claims pending in local hearing offices across the country.

The 16-month wait is for the Greenville, South Carolina office, which is where your hearing would be held if you reside in Spartanburg or Anderson County, S.C. The 16-month wait is the sixth longest nationwide and is shared by 16 other offices. The longest average wait as of December was 22 months for the Fort Myers, Florida office.

According to the Humane Society of the United States, pet ownership in the United
States has more than tripled since the 1970’s with about 62% of American households said to have at least one pet in 2012 and 47% of households owning at least one dog. Many of us experience first- hand the joys and benefits of pet ownership. But for those suffering from a mental or physical illness, animals and pets can provide much needed healing and therapeutic benefits.

There are two basic categories of animals that assist the disabled – service animals and therapy animals.

The American Disability Act provides a very specific definition of a “service animal” and as of March 15, 2011 only dogs are recognized as service animals under titles II and III of the ADA and are defined by the Act as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for a person with a disability. Service animals are not considered pets and are specifically trained to assist a disabled individual with things such as pushing a wheelchair, alerting one to the sounds of smoke alarms, timers, and telephones; or picking up and carrying
items for an individual. While many therapy animals are specifically trained to provide therapeutic benefits to the disabled, they are not service animals and do not have the same rights to public buildings as service animals. They do, however, provide many healing benefits to the disabled and their families and have been found to significantly reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue for people suffering from mental and physical disabilities. Continue Reading

If you are like most people applying for social security disability, you would much rather be working.  But, because of your medical condition you are simply unable to hold down a full-time job anymore.  As such, waiting for the Social Security Administration to decide your case can seem painfully long. Extended wait times often create additional financial and emotional stress on a family. But, unfortunately, the majority of applicants can expect to wait for almost two years before receiving a final decision on their claim.

Typically, an application for SSDI or SSI benefits begins at your local Social Security Administration field office. You can also apply online at www.ssa.gov/disabilityssi/. Your local office will assist you in completing the initial application and will gather the necessary information about your work history and medical conditions to make an initial decision. One can expect an initial decision on their disability application to take approximately 2-3 months. Statistically, the majority of claims are denied at this initial level. In South Carolina, approximately 69% of all applicants are denied at the initial level.

What if I Am Denied?

If you have applied for Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), here are some things you need to know.

1. GET TREATMENT FOR YOUR MEDICAL CONDITIONS: Even if you are diagnosed with a serious, disabling condition, and there is no way to fix your problem, you need to see you doctor regularly to document how your condition is progressing, and if your condition is getting worse. Most diseases or conditions have progressive stages. For example, congestive heart failure (CHF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have stages to describe their severity. You need to continue seeing your doctor in order to document the stage or progress of the disease. Even if you don’t have health insurance or money for treatment, if your symptoms get worse, or flare up, you can seek treatment at the hospital emergency department or the local health department.

2. FOLLOW YOUR DOCTOR’S RECOMMENDATIONS: Some disabling conditions are manageable. If the records show that you are not taking your medications or following your doctor’s instructions, it can affect your case. For example, if you have diabetes, but you don’t take your medicine, or you don’t follow diet restrictions, it can hurt you and your case. If you have COPD, and you continue to smoke, your doctor’s records may sound like you aren’t doing what the doctor says. Quitting smoking, losing weight, or making other changes can be difficult. If you are trying to make changes that your doctor recommends, be sure to tell your doctor, and tell them why you are having trouble. Your efforts, even if not completely successful yet, need to be in the records. Also, if you haven’t taken medicine, or gotten a test, because you can’t afford it, be sure to tell your doctor. There may be less expensive comparable medications, your doctor may be able to give you samples, or your doctor may be able to get you financial assistance with your medications or treatment.
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In many cases, a person is suffering from serious health conditions but has not stopped working yet, and they are worried that their conditions will get worse to the point that they will be unable to continue working. In other cases, individuals have already had to reduce their time on the job and don’t know if there current level of work will make them ineligible for benefits. One of the initial questions to consider when deciding whether are not you should file for Social Security Disability benefits is whether or not you have a “severe” mental or physical impairment.

A “severe” physical or mental medical impairment is defined by the Social Security Administration as an impairment that prevents a person from engaging in any substantial gainful activity. remember from our previous blog posts that substantial gainful activity is the term Social Security uses for working and earning more than $1,070.0 a month, or $1,800.00 if you are blind (1,090 and $1,820 in 2015). A “severe” impairment is one that significantly limits your ability to perform as least one work-related activity such as:

•walking, sitting, standing, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying or handling
•hearing, speaking, and seeing
•understanding and following simple directions
•interacting with co-workers and supervisors, and adjusting to changes in your work.

A non-severe physical or mental impairment is one that has only a minimal effect on a person’s ability to perform basic work activities. In many cases, an individual may not have one health condition that would be considered severe but has multiple health problems that prevent them from working on a full time basis. In these situations, the Social Security Administration will look at all of your medical conditions and determine whether the combined effects of all your conditions prevent you from being able to work full time or at SGA levels.

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Deciding to apply for Social Security Disability is a hard decision for many people. It means coming to grips with the idea that you may not be able to return to work because of health problems. Almost everyone who applies for Social Security Disability has been out of work for some amount of time. If you have applied for Social Security Disability, or you are considering applying, you should know the requirements to be eligible.

Are you still working?

Lots of people with serious injuries or health conditions ask if they should apply for disability while they are still working. Even if you have a serious injury or health condition that may completely prevent you from working in the future, you won’t be eligible if you are still engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA is the phrase Social Security uses for working and earning more than $1,070.00 per month, or $1,800.00 if you are blind. These amounts go up to $1,090 and $1,820 in 2015).

Say you work for a company in South Carolina and your boss asks you to organize an employee kickball game to make the work atmosphere more enjoyable. And say you jump during the game, land awkwardly and fracture your leg.

Are you eligible for South Carolina workers’ compensation?

Yes, indeed, according to the South Carolina Supreme Court, which recently approved workers’ compensation in just such a scenario. The case involved an employee of a public relations firm who shattered his tibia and fibula during a company kickball game and underwent two surgeries.

The term ‘Social Security’ is a familiar phrase to all Americans, one that’s as well known as “The White House,” or “Disney World.” The Social Security Administration (SSA) is perhaps the best known United States federal agency, after all – nearly all of us know someone who collects some form of benefits through the Social Security Administration (mostly likely in the form of retirement benefits). What you may not know is that the SSA runs a variety of programs designed to help people who are disabled and can no longer work due to their disability.

You’re not alone if you find yourself confused or overwhelmed when applying for Social Security disability benefits

If you’re thinking about filing for Social Security disability benefits, having a basic understanding of the different types of programs available is a helpful first step in understanding your options.

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