Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
Most people would agree that there is intrinsic value in working hard day-in and day-out. However, decades of strenuous labor can lead to chronic conditions that may impair or prevent you from doing your job. Likewise, a sudden injury or illness can also make performing your job duties, or even tasks of daily life, extremely difficult, if not impossible. Unfortunately, as too many people discover, a reduced income for any reason does not stop your bills from coming due. After several months of being out of work, many people can find their savings dangerously low or depleted entirely. The good news is that the federal government has established benefit programs through the Social Security Administration (SSA) that are designed to help honest, hard-working people who fall on hard times due to sickness or injury.
If you or a family member need assistance filing for disability benefits, contact an experienced Bentonville disability benefits lawyer today. For 20 years, Social Security disability lawyer Ken Kieklak has helped Arkansans understand the benefits they may be entitled to. If you work with us, we handle every step of the disability application process so that you can focus on recovery from your severe condition or impairment. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your claim, contact Ken Kieklak, Attorney at Law, at (479) 316-0438. You can also contact the firm online using our short submission form.
Types of Social Security Benefits Available in Bentonville, AR
Despite precautions, injuries do still happen. Sometimes those injuries can be so severe that they can prevent you from working. In fact, the SSA estimates that nearly 1 in 3 20-year-old workers will develop a disability or impairment during their working life. But depending on your impairment or disease, you may be able to qualify for Social Security benefits in Bentonville. The two main benefit programs are:
- Supplemental Security Income – For those with little to no resources or income and have reached the retirement age, are blind, or have a qualifying disability may qualify for SSI benefits. The program provides cash assistance to those who need it.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD/SSDI) – Unlike the SSI program, to qualify for the SSD program, you also need to have a sufficient work history. SSD benefits are paid in cash, and retroactive benefits to the date of the onset of your severe impairment are available.
These benefits programs are not a comprehensive listing. Other government aid at the state or federal level may also be available. To learn more about medical conditions that are eligible for SSDI, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Bentonville SSDI benefits lawyer as soon as possible.
Medical Conditions that Qualify for SSDI Benefits in Bentonville
The Social Security Administration has detailed several impairments that will make a person eligible to receive SSDI benefits. While the complete list of impairments is posted on the SSA website, here are some of the impairments that the SSA considers severe enough to receive SSDI benefits:
- Burn injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Broken bones
- Kidney or liver disease
- Chronic heart failure
- Cystic fibrosis
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Sickle Cell Anemia
- Loss of vision
This is not an exhaustive list. If you are living with any of the above conditions, you may be eligible to file for SSDI benefits.
In addition, the SSA may consider other factors even if an individual has an impairment that is on the list. For example, the SSA will examine how long the impairment is estimated to last. Specifically, the SSA may look at the following factors:
- Whether the impairment has lasted for at least a year
- Whether the impairment is expected to last for at least
- Whether the impairment will result in the person’s death
If you are applying for SSI benefits, the criteria will slightly change. For example, the SSA will look at your income and any assets you may own. This means if you have a life insurance policy or own a vehicle, this could affect your eligibility for SSI benefits. It is also important to note that SSI benefits are not just for disabled individuals. If you are blind or over the age of 65, you can be eligible for SSI benefits.
How the Social Security Administration (SSA) Will Analyze Your Disability Claim in Bentonville, AR
Proving a Social Security claim requires a technical understanding of the process employed by the SSA and a firm grasp on the types of things that a claims examiner or administrative law judge is looking for. An experienced attorney may be able to anticipate questions or concerns about your disability and prepare accordingly. The SSA uses a 5-step sequential process to evaluate adult disability claims and a 3-step sequential process for children. The two processes are substantially similar; however, the childhood process does not address past work history or the ability to do alternate work (steps 4 and 5). The steps in the adult process are:
Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
Substantial gainful activity refers to the work and income you receive despite your disability. This means in order to be eligible for disability benefits; an applicant cannot earn more than a certain amount of money each month. If your monthly SGA is too high, you will not be able to qualify for disability benefits.
The SSA occasionally increases the amount of compensation a disabled individual can earn without being ineligible for SSDI benefits after examining the national average wage index. Additionally, the SGA cap is higher for persons that are considered “statutorily blind.” In 2020, a statutorily blind individual can earn up to $2,110 without affecting their disability benefits. However, if you are not statutorily blind, you can only earn up to $1,260 per month.
It is also important to note that the SSA will not immediately repeal SSDI benefits for individuals that attempt to return to their former job or a new position. Instead, the SSA offers a “trial work period” where the disabled individual can return to work and exceed the SGA limit while also receiving benefits.
The trial work period can last for up to nine months or approximately 274 days. If you decide to participate in the trial work period, you should constantly communicate with the SSA regarding the status of your employment. For example, if your work hours were changed or your wages were increased, this is essential information that must be reported to the SSA.
Severity of the Impairment
Severe impairments cause a limitation in the things that you are able to do. In contrast, an impairment that is not severe will not cause any limitations. The SSA must consider your condition to be severe before proceeding to the next stage in the analysis.
Making Sure Your Condition or Illness is Eligible for Disability Benefits
As mentioned above, the SSA publishes a list of conditions and impairments that it considers to be so severe that they qualify for disability. If you are living with a condition that is not present on the SSA’s list of impairments, you should not begin to worry. The SSA list of impairments is not so comprehensive that other illnesses will not be considered. There is a possibility that your condition may qualify for benefits if it is substantially similar to a condition that is already on the list. As a result, it is vital to provide evidence of your impairment should be considered eligible for benefits. For example, if your condition extremely limits your mobility, this may be sufficient to show that you need SSDI benefits in Bentonville, AR.
Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
Your residual functional capacity is the actions that you are still able to do and whether that ability permits you to perform your job. Your RFC is determined from the longitudinal record, including medical records and reports of your activities of daily life (ADL).
RFC forms are typically filled out by a physician during an assessment of an applicant’s abilities. Specifically, a disability examiner will investigate the applicant’s abilities and will submit evidence to a physician to determine whether an applicant is capable of working. However, an applicant can also ask their physician to fill out an RFC form. An RFC form can be a valuable source of evidence when you are presenting your case to an administrative law judge. An applicant’s physical and mental capabilities can be examined in an RFC form.
Are Jobs Suited for Your RFC Available?
Generally, with the aid of a vocational expert, the judge or claims examiner determines if appropriate jobs exist for you in your region. Some applicants may feel pressure from a vocational expert if they believe the expert is trying to force them back into the workforce before they are ready. If you believe that the vocational expert assigned to your case is being unreasonable, our firm can help you explore your options.
If your application for benefits was denied in Bentonville, AR, you should not be discouraged. There are many claims for disability that are initially declined. Our firm can work with you to file an appeal and pursue the benefits you may need to pay medical expenses and various other costs that may arise due to an illness or injury.
Contact Bentonville, AR Disability Benefits Lawyer Ken Kieklak Today
If you or a family member require legal assistance to apply for SSDI or SSI benefits, consult with an experienced Bentonville disability benefits lawyer. For more than 20 years, disability lawyer Ken Kieklak has worked with residents of Bentonville to file their disability claims. Working alongside an experienced Social Security attorney can elucidate more of the process while providing you with peace of mind that your claim is being handled properly. To discuss your disability claim, call Ken Kieklak at (479) 316-0438or contact us online. We offer free consultations.