Disability benefits are available to many Arkansans who have serious injuries or medical conditions that make it hard for them to work. However, “disability” can mean a few different things, and it can be confusing to figure out how to get on disability and get the benefits you need. While a doctor is often going to be an essential point of contact and you will need to see a doctor for help getting on disability, your doctor is not in charge of the decision of whether you can be put on disability. Fayetteville, AR disability lawyer Ken Kieklak explains.
What Kinds of Disability Programs Are Available in Arkansas?
For most people across the country, using the name “disability” when referring to a benefits program refers to the Social Security Administration’s (SSA’s) disability programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is a program for workers to get benefits if they develop a condition that keeps them from being able to continue working. SSI is a need-based program for children and people without a work history to get benefits. These two programs accept applications through very similar processes and are often referred to collectively as “disability.”
Other disability programs exist, including long-term and short-term disability insurance programs offered by some employers. Talk to your employer about who manages these other programs and how to apply.
Who Makes Decisions About Who Gets Disability Benefits in Arkansas?
The question of who can get on disability and who can apply for benefits is handled by the Social Security Administration at the national level. Local Social Security offices play an essential part in accepting, managing, and reviewing applications, but the decision is ultimately made by an employee of the federal government.
Your doctor does not have the power to put you on disability no matter how badly you need the benefits. Doctors do still play an essential role in getting their patients disability because most disabilities need medical evidence and documentation to prove to the SSA that you have a medical condition. Your doctor’s diagnosis, testing, and medical records will help prove your disability to the SSA and get them to give you the benefits you need. In many cases, your doctor might also be asked to fill out forms explaining what your condition is and what limitations it causes you.
How to Apply for Disability in Arkansas
As mentioned, the SSA accepts applications for disability. You can often apply online or by mail, and most paperwork and records can be sent by mail or dropped off at a local Social Security office, whichever is easier for you. Your doctor might also have materials to fill out as part of your application, so you should definitely talk to your doctor about applying and seek help from a Greenland disability lawyer to ensure that your paperwork is in order and your application is complete.
When you apply, your application will consist of a few different things. First, you will need to answer basic biographical questions so the SSA knows who you are and who they should give the benefits to. Second, the application will require you to list information about your employment because the work skills you have and what jobs you have previously performed are an important part of the investigation into what jobs you can perform now with your disability. Third, you will need medical information to prove you have a condition and that it is severe. There may also be other pieces of information or documentation required, so talk to a Fort Smith disability lawyer for help with your application.
Qualifying for Disability Benefits in Arkansas
For your condition to qualify, you usually need to show the SSA that you meet their medical definition of the condition and that the condition is severe enough to prevent you from working to support yourself. This will often require you to see a doctor and get evaluated even though your doctor will not be the one making the ultimate decision about whether or not you qualify.
For a medical condition or injury to qualify for disability benefits, it usually needs to meet the SSA’s definition of a listed medical condition that qualifies for disability benefits. The SSA lists many different disabilities that qualify, from cardiovascular conditions like heart disease to neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis to mental disorders like anxiety and OCD. The SSA’s definitions often include severe cases only, meaning that you might have an official diagnosis of a condition that is listed on the disability list, but your condition might not be severe enough to qualify for disability benefits.
Looking at the severity of your condition is also a second step in the process of qualifying for disability. If your condition does not prevent you from being able to work to support yourself, then the SSA will not consider you “disabled.” This analysis often means looking at whether you can work, what tasks you can perform, whether you can perform any jobs you had in the past, and whether you can work to make ends meet. If you can make over a certain level of income (known as the “substantial gainful activity” or SGA limit), then the SSA will likely not consider you disabled.
Again, it is important to have a Benton County disability lawyer help you with your application to avoid complications in proving your disability or rejections based on technical issues.
Call Our Disability Lawyer for Help Getting Disability Benefits in Arkansas
Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, is a Fayetteville disability benefits attorney who helps disabled Arkansans apply for benefits for Social Security Disability. Talk to a lawyer today about what your doctor can do to help you get on disability and how our disability attorneys can help you fill out your application and fight to get your application accepted. For a free legal consultation, call us today at (479) 316-0438.