Every paycheck you receive has taxes taken out that go to the Social Security Administration (SSA). Most people think of social security as something that only the elderly get after they are retired, but one of social security’s biggest functions is providing disability insurance to working Americans with injuries.
Applying for Social Security Disability benefits is intimidating and often confusing. First–time applications in Arkansas are rejected almost 65% of the time. Many of the common mistakes people make could be avoided if they engaged the services of an experienced Social Security attorney. Our Crawford County Social Security Disability Insurance lawyers will assist you in categorizing your condition, preparing the application, and gathering medical documentation to support your claim.
Disability does not have to be a permanent status like a physical handicap, but includes a huge array of injuries and illnesses that put you out of work. While you are out of work, you can collect Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits that can help support you while you recover from your injuries. Since making a claim can be a difficult process, or if your claim has already been denied, you might want help with your claim. Our Crawford Country, AR Social Security Disability lawyers handle complicated disability cases in Crawford County and throughout Northwest Arkansas. For a consultation, call (479) 316-0438.
What is SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance is a safety-net program administered by the SSA and funded through payroll taxes. More specifically, workers pay into the Social Security trust through their FICA taxes. One way to think of SSDI is as an ordinary insurance policy – payroll taxes are the premiums and the benefits are available if you required them.
There are some basic requirements if you wish to receive SSDI benefits. First, you must suffer from an impairment that impacts your ability to engage in “substantial gainful activity.” This will be discussed in more detail below. Furthermore, a person must have paid a sufficient amount into the Social Security trust account. The SSA keeps track of this through “work credits.” A person could earn up to four work credits a year. To qualify for SSDI, a typical worker must have earned 40 credits – or have a ten-year work history. Applicants must be over the age of 18 and under the age of 65.
Requirements to Receive SSDI Benefits
If you are trying to receive SSDI benefits for you injuries, you have to know the requirements that must be met. If you do not meet these requirements, you likely cannot receive SSDI benefits. If you are not sure whether you meet these requirements, hiring an attorney can help you get your claim eligibility figured out.
First, in order to get disability insurance, you must have a disability. In order to be considered “disabled,” you must be unable to work. More specifically, you must be unable to perform any “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) due to a physical or mental issue. Further, this issue must be one that will either last longer than a year (without a break), or is expected to lead to death. That means that something like arthritis that only flares up when it rains might not be sufficient, no matter how bad it is, because it is not continuous.
SGA is further defined by its two terms: substantial and gainful. Substantial activity is one that involves a lot of physical and/or mental work. It can be full- or part-time, as long as it’s something that requires effort. For an activity to be gainful, it must be something you get paid to do, or could get paid to do – and must yield at least a certain amount of pay (which changes every year). For example, both working construction part time and entering data into a computer would both be considered SGA if they pay enough.
An injury must also be severe. That means that it must interfere with your work, and meet that one year duration period (or be expected to lead to death). The injury or illness must be at least as bad as one of the injuries on the SSA’s list of accepted conditions. If it is at least this bad, then they will consider it severe enough to merit SSDI.
The SSA will also look at whether there is any other work that you can do. It looks at your actual physical and mental state to see what your ultimate limitations are, but also disregards what might be unsustainable activity. For instance, you may be able to lift up to fifty pounds, even with your injury, but if it would be medically inadvisable for someone with your injury to lift fifty pounds over and over again all day, they count that as a task you cannot do.
If they can find something else that you can still do, then they will not give you SSDI because you can still work. The SSA does not care whether the jobs they deem possible are available in your area, whether you are a good candidate for them, or whether anyone is hiring in those fields; if you can still work, in theory, you will not get SSDI.
Auxiliary SSDI Benefits Available in Crawford County, AR
If you qualify for SSDI benefits, your spouse and children could be eligible for monthly disability benefits. Auxiliary benefits are available for a claimant’s spouse and their dependent children, including adoptive children. It is important to note that SSDI is the only benefits program administered by the SSA where auxiliary benefits are available. The amount your spouse and dependent children will receive is based on your previous income and the amount you paid into the Social Security trust over your work history.
To qualify for auxiliary benefits, your spouse must be under 62 years of age. Additionally, they must be a joint-caregiver of your dependent children. For purposes of determining benefits for a spouse, children must be under 16 years of age. Divorced spouses could still qualify for SSDI auxiliary benefits if their marriage lasted ten years or longer.
The qualifications for children are more involved. A child must be dependent and under the age of 18. Dependent children include adoptive children and children that do not live with the claimant but receive child support. One exception is if the child is enrolled in school full time – they qualify until they are 19. Under any circumstances, the child must be unmarried. In certain cases, a child could receive auxiliary benefits through their grandparents. For the child to be eligible, the parents must be either deceased or disabled. Benefits are also available if the grandparents legally adopted the child.
What Kinds of Disabilities Are Covered?
There are many disabilities that are contained in the SSA’s “Blue Book” of disabilities. On January 1, 2017, the SSA introduced two new categories of disabilities: Mental Disorders and Immune System Disorders. Including these two categories, there are fourteen different categories of conditions, and over 150 disorders that are considered severe enough for SSDI.
- Broken bones
- Lost limbs
- Sight and hearing loss
- Cystic fibrosis
- Some forms of heart disease
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
- Cerebral palsy
- Multiple sclerosis
Why Are SSDI Applications Denied in Crawford County, AR
As stated above, the majority of SSDI claims filed in Arkansas are denied. There are a variety of reasons why this occurs. Listed below are some of the more common reasons applications are rejected. In many cases, some of the typical errors could be avoided by having our experienced Crawford County attorneys assisting you.
Errors or Omissions on the Paperwork
The SSDI application process is not easy. For many people, the amount of paperwork, forms, and documents are confusing. Claimants must comply with many rules, regulations, and guidelines. A simple mistake or omission could result in a claim being rejected before your medical condition is examined. Our office will help you avoid many of the errors that first-time claimants make.
Insufficient Medical Documentation
The heart of every SSDI claim is the evidence provided that supports your medical impairment. If your medical documentation does not meet the SSA’s requirements, your claim will be denied. It is important to include all possible evidence you have available, including test results, hospital records, and testimonials from your employer, co-workers, friends, and family.
Perhaps the most important information you could provide is written medical opinions from your doctor or treating specialists. These opinions should be detailed and fully explain how your symptoms adversely impact your ability to work. Your doctor should paint a clear picture, including a detailed description of how your condition affects your ability to perform required tasks such as sitting, lifting, walking, standing, or understanding directions.
Gaps in Medical Care or Treatment
The initial medical documentation is important. However, you must provide evidence that you are following your doctor’s prescribed treatment. If your show gaps in your medical treatment or fail to follow your doctor’s instructions, the SSA will conclude that you are not doing everything possible to mitigate the effects of your impairment. It is critical to comply with your physician’s treatments.
Applying for SSDI could feel overwhelming and needlessly complicated. Nonetheless, you must work with the Social Security Administration. This means that you show up for appointments, examinations, and supply any requested documents or information promptly. If you are uncooperative, the SSA will deny your claim.
One common mistake people without legal representation make is to apply again if their initial claim is rejected. Instead of going through the appeal process, some individuals believe it is better to resubmit their application and hope for a better result. This does not happen. If your claim was denied, it will likely be denied again. You should contact our Crawford County Social Security Disability Insurance lawyers to appeal your denial.
Failing to Contact Our Crawford County Social Security Disability Lawyers
Many of the problems listed above could be avoided if you have experienced legal help. Our attorneys and staff have been handling Social Security Disability claims for over twenty years. We will help ensure that all documents are completed on time and medical evidence is provided. In cases where a claim is denied, we will prepare and argue your appeal.
Our Crawford County SSDI Lawyers Can Help You
If you or a loved one is suffering from a persistent, severe disability and is unable to work, you might qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance. If you are in Crawford County, our Social Security Disability lawyers may be able to help. Submitting an SSD claim can be a difficult, confusing process, and may require denials and appeals. All of this can be accomplished more smoothly with an experienced SSD attorney. Call our law offices at (479) 316-0438 for a consultation.