The social safety net in the United States protects those who cannot work due to age, injury or illness. For some people, the benefits provided by the state and federal governments can make the difference between an adequate apartment and live on the streets.
While nearly 200,000 Arkansans currently collect Social Security payments, many other people are not aware of the benefits provided by state and federal disability programs. It is essential that people educate themselves regarding these programs because the Social Security Administration estimates that a 20-year-old individual has a 25% chance of becoming disabled before they reach the full retirement age.
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, has helped people in Arkansas apply for their Social Security Disability benefits for over twenty years. Our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys understand the challenges and difficulties claimants face. If you have any questions regarding your benefits, call our law offices at (479) 251-1843.
SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) is only available to “insured” workers. An insured worker is a worker who has worked long enough and paid enough in Social Security taxes to accumulate sufficient credits to qualify. The program makes cash payments to individuals who are unable to work due to a medical condition that is expected to last, at minimum, one year or is expected to result in death.
To qualify for SSD benefits you must have not only a sufficient duration of your work but also recent work. What qualifies on recent work is dependent upon when you became disabled. While an experienced SSD attorney can address your particular situation, an example of acceptable recent work for a worker who becomes disabled before age 24 would require 1.5 years of work during a three-year period ending with the quarter you became disabled.
If you meet these initial requirements, the Social Security Administration will analyze your claim utilizing a 5-step process. The steps in this determination process include:
- Are you working or otherwise engaged in substantial gainful activity greater than the program limits?
- Is your impairment severe?
- Is your condition a listed condition? If not, does it medically or functionally equal to a listed condition?
- Are you able to perform the work that you did previously?
- Are you able to do other types of work?
Receiving SSD benefits is not an easy or necessarily straightforward process. In fact, many applications require at least one level of appeal. Our experienced SSD attorneys can avoid common legal and procedural pitfalls thereby improving your likelihood of a favorable determination.
Auxiliary SSDI Benefits Available in Arkansas
If your application for SSDI benefits is successful, certain family members could also receive benefits. Under certain circumstances, your spouse or child might be able to receive benefits through your eligibility. The number of monthly benefits your family members would receive will depend on the amount of taxes you paid into Social Security.
If you want to receive auxiliary SSDI benefits for your eligible family members, you must include them on your initial application. A qualifying spouse must be under the age of 62 and must serve as a co-caregiver to your children. In this instance, children must be under the age of 16. In divorce cases, an ex-spouse could still qualify under your Social Security benefits as long as the marriage lasted at least ten years.
Your children, including step-children under the age of 18, are also eligible for benefits under your SSDI. However, they must be in school and not married.
In some instances, grandchildren could also be eligible. To qualify, their parents must be either dead or disabled. It is essential to work with our experienced Fayetteville Social Security Disability lawyers to understand the auxiliary benefits that are available.
Qualifying for SSDI in Arkansas
Qualifying for SSDI benefits is not an easy task. The SSA approves only about 37% of initial applications filed in Arkansas. Having a seasoned Rogers Social Security Disability attorney advocating on your behalf could help you avoid many of the common errors that result in denied claims.
To be eligible for SSDI, you must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that prohibits you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Under SSA guidelines, if you earn $1,310 or more a month, you are not eligible to receive SSDI benefits. The threshold changes periodically, so it is crucial to verify the current number. In a situation where you are unable to return to your old job, the SSA will determine if you are capable of another type of work. Your education, experience, and age will be taken into consideration when making this decision.
The SSA maintains a list of qualifying impairments, commonly referred to as the Blue Book. In some cases, your medical condition might not appear in the Blue Book because it is a very rare condition or does not typically reach the required severity. Nonetheless, the key component is that the severity of the condition restricts or prohibits your ability to work. While it is not necessary, having a condition that is listed in the Blue Book will make the process somewhat less challenging.
It is crucial to provide the SSA with medical documentation to establish the severity of your condition. You will have to demonstrate that your disability meets the criteria listed in the Blue Book. If, as discussed above, your condition is not listed, you could meet the criteria of a similar impairment or list a combination of symptoms. Failure to provide adequate medical documentation is one of the most typical reasons why initial claims are denied. Our Springdale Social Security Disability attorneys will work with you and your treating physicians to obtain evidence of your impairment.
Medicare and SSDI in Arkansas
SSDI benefits often provide necessary monthly payments. However, medical expenses could still be overwhelming. If you qualify for SSDI, are you entitled to Medicare? Without medical insurance, your benefits, along with your savings, could be easily and quickly wiped out. The good news is that people who qualify for SSDI in Arkansas are also eligible for Medicare. However, there is some critical information that you should know.
If you have been approved for SSDI, it is important to know that your Medicare benefits will probably not coincide with your first benefit payment. There is a waiting period. Someone who is eligible for SSDI might have to wait two years from their entitlement date before their Medicare benefits start.
Understanding the dates is essential in understanding the waiting period. For example, if you became disabled in June 2018, your date of entitlement would be November 2018. This is because there is a five-month waiting period from the date of disability to entitlement. Because of several issues, you wait until March 2019 to apply for Social Security benefits. The application process for SSDI is rarely fast. For this example, imagine your claim was not approved until October 2020. Therefore, your Medicare benefits would begin in November 2020 – or two years from the entitled date of November 2008.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME
Unlike the SSD program, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program is not designed to be a workers’ insurance program. Rather the program provides cash payments to those with low incomes who are blind, disabled, or age 65 or older. To determine if you qualify for the program the Social Security Administration agency looks at your income and the things that you own. Because the Administration exempts certain types and amounts of income, an experienced attorney can improve your likelihood of a favorable determination by presenting your finances as favorably as the rules permit. For instance, the SSA does not count:
- The first $65 of income you earn by working and 50% of any earnings above $65
- SNAP benefits
- Home energy assistance
- The home you live in
- Burial funds
The base amount of SSI benefits is the same throughout all 50 states but many states supplement the amounts provided. Unfortunately, Arkansas is not one of those states that further supplements SSI benefits but other assistance may be available.
SSI and Medicaid in Arkansas
As talked about above, there is a two-year waiting period to receive Medicare benefits once you have qualified for SSDI. However, if you receive SSI, are you entitled to Medicare, and are there any restrictions? Because SSI is based on financial need as well as a medical impairment, you would not receive Medicare benefits. However, SSI beneficiaries are entitled to Medicaid, which does not require a two-year waiting period. You will still have to meet all the income guidelines and other qualifying criteria. Our Bentonville Social Security Disability attorneys could assist you during this process.
OTHER ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS
Our experienced Social Security benefits attorneys may also be able to assist you with other benefits programs such as SNAP or TANF. Further, our attorneys can answer your questions and explain any potential collateral consequences additional benefits income might bring.
Contact Our Arkansas Social Security Disability Attorneys to Discuss Your Available Benefits
Understanding and applying for Social Security benefits is challenging. Nearly two-thirds of all initial claims are denied. To help increase your chances of receiving the benefits you deserve, contact our Arkansas Social Security Disability attorneys. Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, will aggressively advocate for your rights and help you understand the benefits of Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income. Call (479) 251-1843 today or contact us online. We offer confidential consultations in which an attorney can evaluate your SSI or SSD claim.