How to Fill Out a Function Report?

How to Fill Out a Function Report?

One of the first things Social Security will send you after you file your Social Security Disability application is a Function Report. This is a form that asks you why you can’t work and it also asks a bunch of questions about whether you are able to do basic household activities. Social Security will use your answers to these questions along with your medical records to determine what you can and cannot due. Ultimately, the medical records are far more important, but it’s still worth it to fill this form out right. As you fill it out, you need to remember that you’re trying to prove that you cannot work. Therefore, you need answer every question with the mindset of how your answer proves you cannot work. In order to do that, you need to think of the basic requirements of keeping job. 

What Do Employers Require of Employees

Every employer requires you to show up on time, stay on task, and only take scheduled breaks. Employers will not let your take naps or elevate your legs above your heart for several hours a day. Think about which of your symptoms would be a deal breaker for any employer. Do you have fatigue that would require extra breaks? Do you need to lie down during the day to relieve pain? Would you have flare ups of your symptoms several times a month that would cause you to call in sick too often?

It’s also important to know what employers will tolerate. I often see function reports that simply say “I can’t stand too long.” There are plenty of jobs that don’t require you to stand for a long time. There are even jobs that will allow you to alternate between sitting and standing. However, there are not many jobs that will let you call in sick more than twice per month or take numerous unscheduled breaks. 

Keep in mind, what you have to prove changes a bit if you’re over 50 or 55. See this link for an explanation.  However, it’s always safe to include the things that would keep you from doing any job. 

How to Apply This Information to the Form

In the beginning they ask you the general questions about why you can’t work and how you spend your day. This is where you share those explanations of what makes you unemployable. If you have to lie down 2-3 times per day, say you have to lie down 2-3 times per day. If you have flareups that would cause attendance issues, include that. However, don’t exaggerate because your answers need to match your medical records. No one is going to believe that you have to lie down 24 hours per day. It’s enough if you have to lie down 2-3 times for an hour or two.

For the rest of the questions, you want to answer honestly, but find ways to convey how your conditions limit you. For example, under the “meals” section it’s perfectly okay to say you’re capable of making a sandwich. It’s not credible to think you can’t make a sandwich, but there’s also a space to explain how your cooking habits have changed. This is where you can say things like “I can’t stand long enough to make big meals” or “I have to stop to take breaks while cooking.”  The same is true of the household chores section. Many of my clients can put clothes in the washer but have difficulty picking up the wet clothes to put them in the dryer. You can also include things about how it takes you much longer to do these chores because you have to take breaks and on bad days you can’t do them at all. Remember, the need to do things like take extra breaks is one of the things employer will not tolerate. It’s not your job to argue that you’re dead. You’re just trying to show that you could not maintain a job.

For the rest of the questions, you want to answer honestly, but find ways to convey how your conditions limit you. For example, under the “meals” section it’s perfectly okay to say you’re capable of making a sandwich. It’s not credible to think you can’t make a sandwich, but there’s also a space to explain how your cooking habits have changed. This is where you can say things like “I can’t stand long enough to make big meals” or “I have to stop to take breaks while cooking.”  The same is true of the household chores section. Many of my clients can put clothes in the washer but have difficulty picking up the wet clothes to put them in the dryer. You can also include things about how it takes you much longer to do these chores because you have to take breaks and on bad days you can’t do them at all. Remember, the need to do things like take extra breaks is one of the things employer will not tolerate. It’s not your job to argue that you’re dead. You’re just trying to show that you could not maintain a job.

Credibility is Key

Social Security has your medical records. If your doctor says in your records that you’re still driving, it better not say in your function report that you can’t drive. If you write that you need a cane to walk, I better be able to find a reference to that cane in your medical records. For this reason, it’s probably best to keep your answers relatively short while still making your overall point. The more you say, the more likely it is that your doctor has included something different in his report or that you’ll say something different at your hearing. 

Don’t Overthink It

The most important thing is to turn the function report in relatively soon. Your medical records are far more important than your function report. Sometimes, I wonder if the people at Social Security even read these things. If you spend a month filling this form out, you’re just going to delay your case. We all know that these cases can take a long time. If you don’t turn in your function report, it will just delay a decision on your case that much longer and eventually they’ll turn you down for not turning it in. 


We’re happy to answer any questions if you get stuck. Your answers are likely perfectly fine, but I know some questions are just confusing and you want our opinion. We’re happy to help.

How to Win SSDI Case in Front of Judge

How to Win SSDI Case in Front of Judge

Most people lose their original SSDI claim; in fact, 70% of claims are denied. That doesn’t mean your claim is over, just that you will will need to ask for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge so you can explain your case in person. Most claims can be won at this stage, but it is best to be as prepared as possible so that you don’t have to go even further into the appeals process and wait even longer.

Here are some tips so that you understand what happened and how best to go forward in the future:

Hire a Qualified Disability Advocate or Attorney You Are Comfortable With

While many people choose to represent themselves, you will benefit from having an experienced advocate by your side. While there are no rules against representing yourself, it is generally not in your best interest to go to court alone. Even experienced attorneys usually hire other attorneys to represent them in court if they are involved in personal litigation.

Preparing Your Case

The first thing we can help with is evaluating your case and helping you decide the best way to present it to the judge. The ALJ (Administrative Law Judge) hears many cases throughout the year, but your disability attorney will help you organize your presentation so that the judge understands the seriousness of your case. Make sure your attorney has copies of all your paperwork, including medical exams and work information.

Helping You Stay Calm

The first benefit of bringing an attorney with you is that you know that you are not alone. Most people are nervous when involved in courtroom proceedings, but you will feel better knowing that you are with someone who has been through this before many times and is on your side. The more relaxed you are, the more likely you are to remember everything important you wanted to tell the judge.

Your Physical Presentation

Your attorney can also help you with your physical presentation. Courts expect a certain amount of decorum, and your attorney can help you to understand what kind of clothing and demeanor will most impress the ALJ. While you are not going to be putting on a show, being appropriate goes a long way when presenting your case in court.

That doesn’t mean that you should go out and buy a nice suit like you think an attorney might wear to court, or that you have to feel as though you have to go overboard with how servile you act toward the judge. It is more important to be neat, clean, and respectful looking and to be civil and polite with the judge.

Know Your Case

Your lawyer can help you better if you know your case thoroughly and can help explain why it is necessary for you to have SSDI. Keep up with any changes and make sure your attorney gets new information. It is never good to have a surprised attorney in court, and it could potentially keep your attorney from representing you as fully. Knowing your full medical history is important, and there are free and reduced-price services that may be able to help you develop your record.

You don’t need to become a medical expert, but you should be able to show evidence about your injuries and your treatment over a period of time. Never forget that nobody knows as well as you do how your disability is affecting your day-to-day life and ability to work. 

Never Minimize Your Disability

Many people have trouble letting go of their pride, and may not want to admit that there are some things they can’t do anymore. You probably have a picture in your head of the way you used to be, and all the things you used to be able to do. It can be really hard to admit that you aren’t the person you were before.

Get rid of those ideas, because the ALJ is not there to look down on you for your injury. Explain how your disability affects your specific abilities and how that makes it difficult if not impossible for you to continue to perform your job duties. You will not be judged as a person based on your ability to perform certain job functions.

Never Exaggerate Your Disability

Many people go the opposite way, and try to exaggerate the extent of their injuries. This is a sure way to anger a trier of fact, who has dealt with many cases like yours before and will probably immediately know if you are being dishonest. Once the ALJ finds out that someone is dishonest, that will become part of that person’s record and could affect the ability of that person to ever prevail in an SSDI case. This is the scenario we see on television, where someone in a personal injury lawsuit claims to be seriously injured and then a detective brings pictures of the person dancing the tango and skydiving.

While your experience in a disability hearing will not be that dramatic, you do need to remember to always be honest. Sometimes people exaggerate because they are worried that the judge won’t take them seriously otherwise. Don’t worry about the fact that there are people in the world who have worse injuries than you. The judge is only there that day to evaluate your case.

Use an Expert to Explain How Your Injuries Are Affecting You

Someone such as an occupational therapist can provide evidence as to how your disability keeps you from doing your particular job, and can also provide information on how your disability will keep you from transferring your skills so that you are able to do another job. This is important so you can show the Court why you didn’t just go get a different job when you became injured. An occupational therapist can show the judge why someone with your injury will no longer be able to do what is expected at your job.

Do Not Miss Your Hearing

Just like with other important appointments, it is crucial to be present and show up on time for your appointment. If you expect a potential time conflict, go ahead and move to continue your hearing in advance. If you simply miss your hearing without a very good reason, the ALJ is going to default you, and you will lose your case. You may not be able to move on from this point after you lose by default at this hearing.

Keep In Touch With Your Attorney

As soon as you have a disability attorney, make sure you keep in close contact. If your attorney calls you, call back as soon as possible. By the same token, make sure you advise your attorney every time you get new information that may apply to your case. There are many times where a client did not give the attorney information crucial to the case, and it resulted in losing the case. Don’t worry about bothering your attorney if you have crucial information to share. Your attorney chose to help clients with disability claims and wants you to call.

Be Patient

It can take up to 2 years from the start of your claim before you get a date in court. Waiting for a long time can be frustrating, especially when you can’t work and you have to figure out how to live without your regular income. Don’t let the ALJ see if you are feeling anxious about how much time has passed. Your initial hearing is your best chance at winning your claim, so you want to take full advantage of it when your day finally arrives.

At Joel Thrift Law, we understand how frustrating it is to deal with the SSDI process, especially when it seems as though it should be easier to get something you feel you have a right to. Especially if you worked for a long time before your injury, you may be wondering why the process is so difficult to get benefits to which you should be entitled. 

Even though there are many similarities in cases, your case is still different from other cases in important ways. We at Joel Thrift Law will help so that when you go to court, the judge will see why your case is so important. If you or someone you love has a potential or active disability claim, give us a call today.

How Long Does it Take to Reinstate SSDI?

How Long Does it Take to Reinstate SSDI?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides monthly benefits to individuals who can no longer work due to a disabling medical condition. To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked enough years to accumulate work credits. The Social Security Administration grants work credits according to yearly wage amounts. For people who do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI, the SSA’s Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is available to financially assist low-income disabled children and adults.

When a medical condition improves enough to allow an SSDI recipient to return to work, their benefits will stop as soon as they receive their first check. In some cases, they may return to work for several months only to discover symptoms of their condition returning. Or, they may injure themselves while on the job because they weren’t physically ready to return to work. Whatever the reason someone needs to restart SSDI benefits, the SSA offers “expedited reinstatement” to apply for SSDI without completing a new disability application.

What is an Expedited Reinstatement (EXR) for SSDI?

An EXR avoids filling out an entire disability application while shortening the time it takes to start getting monthly benefits. In addition, when you apply for expedited reinstatement, the SSA may approve you for provisional benefits for as long as six months.

Qualifying for SSDI initially meant you had to prove to SSA disability evaluators that you could not maintain substantial gainful activity (SGA) that gave you income of no more than $1260 per month. If you return to work and start earning over that amount, you no long qualify for SSDI. You must always notify the SSA whenever you obtain employment while getting SSDI payments.

You are eligible for EXR if your income earnings fall below the substantial gainful activity amount set for 2020 and you applied and were approved for SSDI within the last five years. For example, someone who was approved for SSDI in 2013, reentered the work force in 2017 but became disabled again in 2020, they would not be eligible for expedited reinstatement of their SSDI benefits. Instead, they would have to file a new application complete with new medical documentation and updated information about their condition. Also, if the SSA approves an EXR request, the claimant may be entitled for up to a year of retroactive payments from the date the EXR request was filed. Eligibility for retroactive benefits varies from case to case and does not apply to everyone filing an EXR request.

What Happens After You Apply for an EXR for SSDI?

The SSA will sent your EXR application to a local disability determination agency that reviews criteria establishing the definition of a disability. In addition, the agency will examine your medical documentation and doctor’s reports to determine if you have had any improvements in your condition since you first applied for SSDI. According to the SSA, a medical improvement is evidence that your condition is not as severe as it was when you initially qualified for SSDI. Medical improvement must also be substantial enough to allow you work and earn “gainful” income.

Medical improvement must be directly related to a person’s ability to remain employed and to the impairment for which you were previously receiving SSDI. For example, if you were receiving SSDI for irritable bowel syndrome, returned to work when you responded well to treatment but had to stop working due to a return of SBI, the SSA cannot deny your EXR because they state you are no longer anemic.

In most cases, the claim of a medical improvement involving an EXR is difficult to prove, especially when you have past and present medical documentation proving you have received a clinical diagnosis of your disabling condition.

What is the Provisional Benefit Period?

While waiting for an EXR to be approved, the SSA will pay temporary benefits for up to six months. However, provisional SSDI benefits will stop when you receive a decision about an EXR request or if you earn income above the substantial gainful activity amount. Provisional benefits will also be discontinued if you turn 65 years old (full retirement age) before a decision is reached. If your expedited reinstatement request is denied, you do not have to repay provisional benefits as long as no overpayments were involved.

Monthly provisional benefits are generally equal to what you were receiving while on SSDI. Occasionally, this amount is adjusted if underpayments, overpayments or cost of living increases enacted by Congress have been established since your last benefit payment. Additionally, you are also entitled to health insurance while receiving provisional benefits. SSDI recipients are usually covered by Medicare.If your EXR is denied, Medicare will stop paying for your health costs.

What About Dependent Benefits and Reinstating SSDI Benefits?

If a spouse or child was receiving SSDI or SSI based on your income and their disability benefits ceased due to your income, their benefits will resume following approval of your EXR. Be aware that the SSA does not restart spousal, disabled child or parent’s benefits automatically. Reinstatement of their benefits must be requested online, by telephone or by mail.

Can You Appeal an Expedited Reinstatement Denial?

Yes, you can appeal an EXR but the appeal must be filed within 60 days of receiving your denial letter. The document you need to send to the SSA is called a “Request for Reconsideration”. Your local disability determination agency will review your application to determine if an error was made in denying your request.

Denials of Requests for Reconsideration can be appealed within 60 days of receiving a denial letter. This appeal will be held in a courtroom where an administrative law judge (ALJ) will preside over the case. The appeals process at this point resembles the appeals process in other types of disability appeals.

If an ALJ denies your second Request for Consideration, you have another chance to appeal the denial by taking it to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews why the ALJ decided to deny your request. Sometimes, an ALJ may make a procedural or legal error that the Appeal Council will catch and overturn. They will also examine all documents included in your case. You are allowed to provide the Appeals Council additional information pertinent to your medical disability.

Once the Appeals Council is finished reviewing your Request for Consideration, they will take one of three possible actions:

  • Deny the request. If this occurs you can file another appeal in Federal District Court
  • Overturn the denial made by the ALJ and approve your SSDI benefits case
  • Remand your appeal back to an ALJ for the purpose of having the ALJ reconsider your case. At this point, the ALJ will either issue another denial or approve your case

If the Appeals Council flatly denies your case, you cannot ask that it be sent back to the ALJ. The only option is appeal again at the federal level. An Appeals Council that remands a case to an ALJ has probably found some type of technical error or a failure on the part of the ALJ to consider all the medical evidence you provided. Remands by Appeals Council happens in about two out of every 100 disability appeals. Less than three percent of all disability appeals are approved by an Appeals Council.

How Do You Appeal an EXR at the Federal Level?

You will need to file a civil complaint at a U.S. District Court nearest your location. Civil complaints are simply concise statements describing your disability and other aspects of your case. When you file an appeal at the federal level you are essentially not suing the SSA. Instead, the defendant named in your appeal’s complaint is the current commissioner of the Social Security Administration. 

The SSA cannot assist you in completing a civil complaint since the case involves the SSA Commissioner. If you do not have a disability attorney at this point in the appeals process, it is likely your civil complaint will be rejected due to legal omissions and errors. The SSA and other disability experts strongly advise anyone to hire an experienced disability lawyer who give your case the legal expertise it needs to stand a chance at being approved in a Federal District Court.

Contact Joel Thrift Today for Legal Help with Reinstating Your SSDI Benefits

The amount of paperwork and legal knowledge required to ultimately get an EXR approved is extensive and complex in nature. Don’t just start filing appeals without having a disability attorney representing your best interests throughout the appeals process. Call today to schedule an immediate consultation appointment at Joel Thrift Law Offices.

These 49 Disabilities Qualify for SSDI

What disabilities qualify for ssdi?

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays monthly benefits to individuals who have accumulated enough work credits to qualify for the program. The number of work credits you have is based on how much you earn in one year. The Social Security Administration allows workers to earn no more than four credits per year. As of 2020, the SSA will give you one credit for every $1410 you earn. The maximum of four credits is allotted once you have earned $5640 in one year.

In most cases, SSDI applicants need 40 work credits to qualify for SSDI. Twenty of those credits must have been earned over the past 10 years. However, if you are under 50 years old and have a qualifying disability, the SSA may approve your SSDI application with fewer than 40 credits.

What are Disability Requirements Established by the SSA?

When you apply for SSDI, you need to prove that:

  • You are incapable of doing work you previously did (for example, if you are a house painter, you must prove you can no longer climb ladders, lift objects, stand on  your feet for hours, etc)
  • You prove you cannot adjust to other types of employment due to your disability
  • You prove you have had your disability for at least one year or it is expected to continue for one year
  • You prove your disability has a negative prognosis (resulting in death)

The SSA further considers an SSDI applicant’s education level, age, and transferrable skills (if any) when determining whether to approve or deny a claim. Disability examiners at the SSA look at the Blue Book of Medical Conditions first when evaluating claims. If the disability indicated in an SSDI application is listed in the Blue Book and symptoms match impairment criteria, the examiner will likely approve the claim.

Medical conditions included in the Blue Book describe impairments affecting all major physiological systems. The SSA states these impairments represent conditions potentially severe enough to prevent someone from performing “gainful activity”, the term used by the SSA for earning income through employment. Many of the conditions are expected to be permanent conditions that will not improve with treatment.

What Happens When Your Disability is not Listed in the SSA’s Blue Book?

Disabilities not listed in the Blue Book may still be approved for SSDI by relying on criteria set by the SSA’s medical-vocational allowance (MVA) program. An MVA approval means that even though a disability failed to meet SSA requirements, the claimant is considered to have a disability severe enough to prevent them from substantial gainful activity (SGA). Substantial gainful activity is simply a term used by the SSA to indicate a claimant cannot work and earn income sufficient to pay for housing, food, and other life essentials.

For 2020, the SSA allows you to receive SSDI payments while still receiving SGA amounts of $1260 for nonblind individuals and $2110 for blind individuals

What Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance?

Information about disabilities is taken from the SSA’s Blue Book of Impairments


Disorders of the Immune System

  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Systemic vasculitis
  • Scleroderma
  • Polymyositis/dermatomyositis
  • Inflammatory arthritis
  • HIV

The SSA accepts the following diagnostic imaging tests when applying for SSDI for an immune system disorder: x-rays, angiography, CAT scans, MRIs or radionuclear bone scans. You must show you cannot work due to symptoms that include but are not limited to severe fatigue, extreme weight loss, fever and general malaise. If an immune system disorder has impaired your cognitive abilities, you must send documented test results proving your reduced ability to focus, remember or think clearly.

Disorders of the Cardiovascular System

  • Chronic heart failure
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Recurring heart arrhythmia
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Heart transplant
  • Aorta aneurysm
  • Chronic venous insufficiency
  • Peripheral arterial disease

The SSA requires detailed medical documents and reports proving diagnosis of the disease, response to treatments and a longitudinal record containing at least three months of treatment and observation results.

Disorders of the Musculoskeletal System

  • Severe joint dysfunction caused by arthritis, osteoarthritis, bone cancer, etc.
  • Reconstructive joint surgery/joint replacement of any weight-bearing joint (knees, hips, ankles)
  • Spine disorders
  • Limb amputation
  • Fractures of the pelvis, tibia, femur or tarsal bones
  • Severe soft tissue injuries (burns, chemical injuries)

To qualify for SSDI for a musculoskeletal disorder, the SSA must find extreme limitations regarding your ability to walk, use your arms or move without pain.

Disorders of the Digestive System

  • Chronic liver disease (hepatitis)
  • Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging severe enough to require a blood transfusion
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
  • Severe weight loss/inability to gain weight due to any GI disorder
  • Liver transplant
  • Crohn’s disease

Some digestive system disorders may be difficult to get approved for SSDI. The SSA considers these disorders more responsive to treatment. They want extensive documentation showing you have tried several different types of treatment and how you responded to each treatment.

Disorders of the Respiratory System

  • Asthma
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Chronic pulmonary hypertension
  • COPD
  • Lung transplant
  • Respiratory failure
  • Lung cancer

Medical evidence indicating you have a respiratory disorder severe enough to prevent you from working is needed to prove your case. Pulmonary function tests show just how difficult it is for you to inhale enough oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide. Even if you rely on supplemental oxygen to breathe, the SSA still requires clinical reports establishing the chronic severity of your respiratory disease.

Other common disabilities that qualify for SSDI include:

  • Thyroid diseases
  • Obesity (people who are severely obese generally suffer from chronic, disabling disorders due to their obesity)
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Breast cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy/Recurring seizures

Schedule a consultation appointment at Joel Thrift Law if you believe you have a disability that prevents you from substantial gainful activity. Even though your medical condition does not have a separate listing in the SSA’s Blue Book of Impairments, you could still qualify and be approved for SSDI with an experienced disability attorney handling your case.

What Mental Disorders Qualify for SSDI?

Mental illnesses are typically harder to get approved by the SSA unless they are severe enough to warrant institutionalization. Mental disorders listed in the Blue Book include:

  • Schizophrenia
  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Autism/autism spectrum disorders
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Anxiety/panic disorders
  • Personality disorders
  • PTSD
  • Intellectual/cognitive impairment disorders

While a physical health problem is easily substantiated with diagnostic scans, lab tests, and other empirical evaluations, a mental illness diagnosis is initially viewed as a subjective diagnosis by SSA disability examiners. To qualify for SSDI, a mental illness must have prevented the individual from working for at least six months. The inability to work due to mental illness should be supported by extensive documentation proving the person has had and is continuing to comply with psychological and pharmacological treatments.

Written testimonies from caregivers, relatives, and close friends who interact with the claimant on a daily basis will also help the SSA lean towards approval of SSDI benefits. Testimonies should detail the difficulties the person has in completing tasks essential for their well-being. For example, a caregiver who spends several hours a day with someone who is taking medication for schizophrenia may describe the problems the person has with remembering, concentrating, and relating to others.

One reason why the SSA denies many SSDI benefit applications is they discover the person has been noncompliant with treatments prescribed by their physician. The majority of mental illness symptoms can be managed as long as the individual takes medication as directed and follows through on counseling appointments. Alternately,  schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorders are the most difficult to treat with antipsychotic drugs primarily because of side effects and the need for frequent dosage adjustments. Also, if you were recently diagnosed with a mental illness such as major depression, generalized anxiety disorder, or a personality disorder and have just started taking medications, the SSA will immediately deny your SSDI claim due to a lack of duration of your mental illness.

Understanding which disabilities may qualify for SSDI, gathering medical reports, and navigating complicated rules when applying for disability benefits is both stressful and time-consuming. Joel Thrift Law can help relieve the stress of applying for SSDI by managing your case from start to finish. Call today to make a consultation appointment and start the process of getting the financial assistance you need and deserve.

How Long After an SSDI Hearing Can You Expect to Wait for a Decision?

How Long After an SSDI Hearing Can You Expect to Wait for a Decision?

How long it will take to adjudicate your particular claim will depend on several factors, and the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will consider your case very carefully. You should know going in that you will not receive a ruling from the bench during your initial hearing, and that there may be other steps you have to go through, including an appeal if your first judgment is not favorable.

Check Your Local Office

Wait time also varies by office, even though rules regarding SSDI are the same from office to office. Some offices simply have more people or there are other reasons the offices are faster or slower. You can see how long your particular office normally takes before issuing a decision by going to the Social Security Administration’s page that lists the hearing offices’ processing time, currently ranked for 2020, and accounting for data collected from 9/28/2019 through 7/31/2020. Unfortunately, the novel coronavirus is probably causing delays that make it harder to estimate times right now.

Do You Qualify for SSDI?

The first question you need to ask is if you are eligible for SSDI benefits. The basic qualifications require you to have worked in a job or jobs that were covered by Social Security, so you may not qualify if, for instance, you were self-employed and did not pay into Social Security. The second requirement is that you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. The general rule is that the disability must cause you to be off work for at least a year because of the disability. There is an Adult Disability Checklist provided by the Social Security Administration that will help you see if you are qualified and make sure you have what you need for the application process

The SSDI Process

There are several steps in the process for getting SSDI payments, and they all take some time to get through. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start receiving benefits.

Initial Stage

The first thing you need to do is fill out an SSDI application. It is most important to remember to fill out every question, answer honestly, and give as much detail as possible. Give examples of how your disability is affecting you, and attach extra papers if necessary. You could fill out the application pretty quickly, but it is better to set aside some hours where you can give it your full attention. Even if you do a great job on your paperwork, there is a high chance that your claim will be denied. About 70% of claims are denied the first time, and it normally takes about 3 or 4 months before you hear back with that initial decision.

Request for Reconsideration

If you do receive a rejection on your first application, you can keep the claim alive by filing a Request for Reconsideration. It is better to keep your claim alive because your benefits will start faster if you are approved faster. Do not wait to file, because you only have 60 days to ask the SSA to reconsider your claim. After those 60 days have passed, this application is done. If the SSA denies your request to reconsider, you have three choices:

  1. Do nothing, and stop pursuing a disability claim entirely.
  2. Fill out a new initial claim, and start the process over with a new application.
  3. File a Request for Hearing (usually your best option — but again, you only have 60 days after the rejection to ask for a hearing)


The idea of going to a hearing sounds frightening because most people are unfamiliar with court hearings and do not feel comfortable in court. However, SSDI hearings are not as confrontational as most other hearings, such as criminal proceedings. This is actually your best chance of getting approved because you will get a chance to present your case to an Administrative Law Judge. You can represent yourself, but it is highly recommended that you go with an attorney who is familiar with SSDI matters.

About 30 days before the hearing, you will get a notice that you are to appear at your Office of Disability Adjudication and Review (ODAR). Your attorney will help you present your case in a way most favorable to getting the conclusion that you want, and helping you understand which evidence you have that will be most compelling to the ALJ. 

Again, you are not going to get a decision from the judge on the day of your hearing. It usually takes at least a few months before you get a decision in the mail. If you win at the hearing, you will get a Notice of Decision and a Notice of Award. If you lose, the last thing left is an appeal.

Appeals Council

The Appeals Council is not there to evaluate the facts of your case. Like other appeals courts, they do re-weigh the evidence or listen to other facts. They are there to consider your reasons as to why you think your appeal was denied and make the decision based on the rules of SSDI. The Council may decide that the ALJ did not consider the evidence carefully enough, but in those cases, the case will be sent back to the ALJ with instructions to look at that evidence again. 

The time it takes for the Appeals Council to hear your case ranges from 60 days to a year. Like other appeals courts, this depends a lot on what other cases are currently ready to be heard. After all that time, you may just have to go back and have another hearing in front of the ALJ. Most of the time, though, the Appeals Council upholds the ruling of the ALJ. If they uphold the original decision, this claim is probably over. 

Once You Lose an SSDI Claim, What Do You Do?

If you lose at the highest level when pursuing your claim, that application is done, but that does not mean that you are not allowed to keep pursuing a disability claim. You must simply start over with a new application.

Starting a New Application

Most people who file for SSDI try to get through the process without help. Especially if you have already lost an SSDI claim, get an SSDI Attorney to help you when you file again. Your SSDI Lawyer has seen many different kinds of SSDI cases and helped other clients fill out the paperwork. SSDI Attorneys attend hearings with their clients and help keep them up-to-date on what is happening with their cases. This is especially helpful with these kinds of cases because they take so long to get through from start to finish.

The most important thing is that your SSDI Lawyer has successfully helped other clients to get their disability awards, so will know how best to present your case to the ALJ. If you did not use an attorney the first time, it is highly recommended that you get legal counsel when starting over to get the best chance of being successful at getting the award you deserve.

When Do the Award Payments Start?

Even if it takes you a long time to successfully win your claim, your payments do not depend on the day the Court decided to make the award. When your application is finally approved, you will receive payments starting on the sixth full month after the date of your disability began. So if your disability started on June 15, 2019, your payments would start in December 2019. Another thing to remember is that you will receive your payments in the next month, so if your first payment was for December 2019, your first payment would be in January 2020.

How Much Will You Get?

This depends entirely on you and your personal work history. Your benefit will be based on a lifetime average of your social security earnings. You can check out your potential future Social Security benefits at any time by creating an account at My Social Security

Get Help Now

It is never too late to get the assistance of an SSDI Attorney, but the sooner you get help, the sooner you are more likely to get your application approved.

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

What Other Benefits Can I Get With SSDI?

When you become disabled before you are old enough to retire, you become dependent on other sources besides work for your regular income. If you have worked at a job covered by Social Security Disability Insurance, you may be eligible for SSDI benefits. However, many people find that these benefits do not fully replace the income they had before they became dependent on disability benefits.

There are other kinds of benefits you may be eligible for, that will help you to continue to live and support yourself and your family. A Social Security Disability Lawyer may be able to help you identify some of the government benefits you may be qualified for.

Supplemental Security Income

This benefit is offered by the government for people who cannot receive SSDI  and applies to those who meet several conditions:

  • You must be over 65.
  • You are blind or disabled.
  • You either never worked or you did not accumulate enough credits to qualify for SSDI.
  • You no longer qualify for SSDI, and have not worked for a long time.
  • You have low income and assets and you also have dependents who are disabled.

Eligibility for this benefit depends on the income and assets of the individual applicant. This is a benefit that can go along with SSDI, for people who are under 65 and still receiving SSDI benefits. Because the benefit is determined by income, the same people who qualify for Supplemental Security Income often also qualify for Medicare, which is an important way to get health insurance.


While this health insurance benefit is normally only for those 65 and older, there are certain people, including certain disabled people, who may be able to receive Medicare benefits before they turn 65. Medicare has different plans with different coverage options, and applicants can review the options and choose the one that best benefits themselves and their families. The monthly fee or premium is different depending on the chosen plan.

Part A

There is usually no premium associated with Plan A, although people who purchase it may pay up to $458 per month. Plan A has a $1,408 deductible for each insurance period and $0 coinsurance for the first 60 days. Part A covers hospice care, home health care, and inpatient care at a hospital. There may some differences in specific coverage according to state laws.

Part B

The cost of the Part B plan is $144.60 per month, or higher if you have a higher income. There is a $198 deductible, after which you are usually responsible for 20% of your bill for approved services, including hospital visits, outpatient therapy, and durable medical equipment. If you have Part B, much of your regular preventive care is automatically covered by your policy. such as screenings for cardiovascular disease, glaucoma tests, scheduled vaccines, lung cancer screening, and a yearly wellness exam. Part B also covers items like clinical research and ambulance services.

Part C and Part D

These plans offer several options and are based on income. Part C consists of private plans that include the services offered in Parts A and B. Part D is for drug coverage, and there is a list of approved pharmaceutical drugs and generics, with drugs listed by tier.

Medicare also has other options like a Medicare prescription drug plan and Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap). When choosing a specific plan, it is recommended that applicants consider relevant factors such as whether they take specific drugs that might be more specific, if they take generic drugs, and if they need their drug costs to be kept to a minimum if possible.

Supplement Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP)

Many people find that one of the hardest things to do with limited resources is to purchase healthy choices for meals. The SNAP program, formerly known as the food stamp program, seeks to fill that gap so that people who are working with limited income can still be healthy and make healthy choices without worrying about how much they are spending for groceries.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees the program, although it is administered by state Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) agencies. This program was originally started to help low-income families make it through troubled times, but the program has expanded to help more people and offer more options. Now the SNAP program can be used at not just groceries but convenience stores, department stores, and even farmers’ markets. 

Workers’ Disability Benefits

You may be able to get disability assistance through an employer or through an insurance company if you or the employer was carrying the correct kinds of insurance policy to cover situations such as yours. Depending on what the policy states and how it works with your SSDI, you may be able to use the extra disability benefits as supplemental income or use the extra income until you are approved to receive your regular SSDI benefits.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

While many people complain that the amount of compensation offered by these kinds of programs is not very much, the benefits can be very helpful, especially if you have become disabled because of work and are now needing the extra income. Most employers, unless you are an independent contractor, are required to have insurance to protect themselves and their workers in the event that an employee becomes injured or ill because of their employment.

Even small businesses are responsible for their employees, and if you can prove that your employer was negligent, you may wish to pursue a civil claim against the company. If you are an independent worker, pursuing a civil claim may be the best way to collect from the company that is responsible for your disability. 

Veterans Affairs Disability Benefits

Disabled veterans may be eligible for their own benefits, which are not just limited to income. If individuals become disabled because of their service, they are eligible to receive monthly benefits, whether the condition was completely a result of their service or was simply made worse by it. Surviving family may also be eligible for benefits, including a spouse, children, or even parents.

VA disability compensation is tax-free and may be a benefit received alongside several other kinds of benefits. Veterans may also be eligible for other kinds of benefits, such as reduced-rate loans or other services offered through local agencies.

Temporary State Disability Benefits

When you are unable to work, the bills pile up fast. You may need help before you are approved through the federal disability benefit program. Your state probably offers assistance to disabled individuals so that they can make it through until the time they are able to start collecting their SSDI.

Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) 

HEAP is a federal program that helps keep the heat on for qualified individuals who currently have low or reduced income. The program also offers financial assistance for those who need cooling assistance, and the representatives can help families to make their homes better weatherized so their bills are not as high. If needed, there is additional financial assistance for individuals who need to have their furnaced repaired or even replaced.

Other Local Programs

Depending on the locality, there are several other kinds of benefits individuals may be eligible for, at least on a temporary basis. For instance, there are some township programs that offer rent assistance or daycare vouchers for those who need help. Most places have different kinds of options so that individuals can obtain extra food, and there are often local organizations that offer donations of clothing and other needed items.

An Almost Endless Amount of Help

If you feel lost and alone because of your disability, never forget that there are many government programs and individuals who want to help you meet all your needs. While it may seem overwhelming, your SSDi attorney can help you connect with the places that offer help. These services and goods are often offered with no questions asked, and the recipients are treated with fairness, compassion, and respect. 

How Long Does SSDI Last?

How Long Does SSDI Last?

If you worked in a job or jobs covered by social security, you may be eligible to receive benefits based on the average of the amount you earned during that employment. The initial process of getting approved can take months or years, and it is very likely that your first attempt will end in rejection. About 70% of applications are denied, leaving the applicants to choose to give up or ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). 

Important Questions to Ask

Once you do receive an award, does it last for as long as you have a disability? Do you have to notify the Court if there are any changes in your condition? Are there any other requirements you have to fulfill in order to remain eligible for your benefits? It is vital that you understand the answers to all these questions so that once you get benefits they are not interrupted, possibly leaving you to start over again with the process. You also do not want to fall afoul of the rules and be accused of fraud if you are not sharing information as you are supposed to.

Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability Insurance?

Before you even apply to receive SSDI, you probably filled out an evaluation that would help you figure out if you were eligible to receive disability benefits. In that evaluation, there are questions such as:

  • Are you still working?
  • Do you currently receive benefits from Social Security Insurance?
  • How long are you expecting to be out of work because of your disability?
  • Is your disability severe?
  • Is your disability part of a list of conditions that are automatically approved as disabilities? These include disabilities such as heart failure, Marfan Syndrome, Raynaud’s Disease, Colon Cancer, Hepatitis, Wilson’s Dease, and Sinus Cancer.
  • Can you do the work you did previously? You might not qualify for disability if your injury does not interfere with your ability to do your job.
  • Are there other kinds of work you can do instead? You might need to choose a different profession and possibly go through retraining.

Benefit Renewal

As a general rule, SSDI benefits will need to be renewed every 6 months, every 3 years, or every 7 years depending on your specific disability and your chances of recovering and being able to return to the workforce safely again. Some disabilities are only temporary, but even lifetime disabilities will require you to renew your SSDI benefits on a regular basis. You are responsible for keeping in contact with the Social Security Administration, keeping your contact information updated, and letting the SSA know if there are any changes to your condition.

How Does the SSA Decide How Often to Review the Case?

If your condition is expected to improve, you can expect a review about every 6 to 18 months, at which time you should be prepared to make your argument as to whether or not you should still be eligible for benefits. If improvement is possible but not necessarily expected, you may expect a review about every 3 years. 

Even if the Court does not expect your condition to improve, you should expect a review about every 7 years. You will need to present your evidence that your condition is ongoing, although the Court already has the information that helped decide your initial award, so the process will not be as detailed and strenuous. While the Court needs to keep an eye on all the open cases, it would be a waste of court time to bring every person back every year for a review, and the courts are already very busy.

What Happens During a Review?

You may not even need a hearing to be approved for continued benefits. If the Court decides that there is a need for a full medical review, you will receive a letter about 30 days ahead of time letting you know to come to the local office. 

Bring all the documentation you have since the case started, including the contact information of all the doctors who have treated you and any medications you are taking. If you have been working, bring documentation showing how many hours you worked, how much you earned, and what kind of work you were doing.

Who Approves the Continuation of Benefits at the Review?

Instead of pleading your case in court to an ALJ like during the initial application process, you will have your case sent to the Disability Determination Services located in your home state. The disability examiner from the DDS will work with a medical consultant, as a team, to review your records and make the final determination.

They might ask for more information if you have not provided everything, such as all the places you were treated and what kind of procedures were done. If there is not enough information, you may be asked to come to a special examination where you can make your case.

Other Reasons Your Benefits Might be Stopped

There are other situations where your benefits might stop either because you chose to stop them or involuntarily, or because of reasons out of your control.

Your Condition Improves

If the condition that caused you to be eligible for a disability improves enough that you are no longer considered disabled, your SSDI will be terminated and you will be required to return to the workforce. 

Returning to the Workforce

Sometimes people become used to their own condition and decide that they would rather return to their job, often for financial considerations. At other times, individuals may be offered opportunities where the disability that caused them to leave the workforce will not affect them in a new and different job. In those cases, you can choose to voluntarily terminate your SSDI benefits and return full-time to the workforce.

Benefits do not stop automatically if you choose to return to the workforce, as you may find it impossible to keep up even though you thought you could. There is generally a trial period of about 9 months where you can work and see if you are able to do full-time work safely again. If you make the choice to voluntarily terminate, you will not be eligible to reinstate your SSDI once your benefits are terminated. However, you should still be eligible for SSI when you turn 65. Just keep in mind that your initial return to work is on a trial basis and that you will not be punished if you decide within the 9 month period that you can no longer cope with the duties of full-time employment.


You may lose your SSDI benefits if you are incarcerated for a period of time. After 30 days of being in jail, your benefits will automatically be stopped. However, if you get out of jail while your benefits are still active, you can still receive them again. Your benefits will not end permanently because of incarceration but may end if you are still incarcerated when you are supposed to be renewing your benefits.


When you turn 65, your SSDI benefits will automatically stop, but they will be replaced with SSI benefits. In order to keep a continuous flow of benefits, make sure you are keeping your renewals up-to-date so that your Social Security Insurance will kick in as soon as your Social Security Disability Insurance expires.

What Can I Do If My Renewal Is Denied?

There are four levels of appeal, and you have 60 days to ask for a hearing from one to the next.

  1. You can ask for your case to be reconsidered, and your case will be reviewed independently by people who were not part of the initial decision. You may appear before a hearing disability officer to argue your case.
  2. You can ask for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
  3. If you disagree with a decision made by an ALJ, you can ask the Appeals Council to consider your case.
  4. If you disagree with the decision of the Appeals Council, you can appeal your case through the Federal Court System.

Winning your initial SSDI award is just the first step in having continuous benefits once you have become disabled. The process is lengthy and the paperwork can be complicated, and overall the experience can be intimidating. Most people who try to get benefits on their own are rejected, especially in the beginning. 

Contact us today for help with your SSDI situation. 

What You Need to Know when Social Security Sends You to their Doctor

What You Need to Know when Social Security Sends You to their Doctor

If you applied for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you may receive a letter requiring you to take a consultative examination (CE). A CE exam is designed to evaluate your current medical condition and limitations. Receiving a CE request means the disability claims examiner in your state could not determine whether you have a disability, and the severity of the disability, based on the medical information you included in your application for SSDI benefits.  

Each state has a Disability Determination Services (DDS) that reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration (SSA). The DDS makes recommendations to the SSA on whether a person is disabled under the Social Security law.

SSDI provides monthly benefits if you have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in death. Before receiving these disability benefits, however, you must prove that you cannot continue working in your most recent job or other jobs for which you may be qualified. Medical records play a key role in proving that you have a disability, which is why a claims examiner wants as much information as possible from your medical file. 

On one hand, you may be reluctant to have a CE, especially if you believe you provided SSA with sufficient information about your disability. On the other hand, by not complying with the CE request, you may jeopardize your opportunity to receive disability benefits. 

Can Your Doctor Perform The Consultative Examination?

While SSA hires independent physicians or psychologists to perform CEs, the SSA says it prefers receiving medical information from the doctor treating the person with a disability. This is why a disability claims examiner might contact the treating physician’s office for the missing information. In your case, it’s possible that you may have already taken a test, assessment, or examination that the disability claims examiner reviewing your application requires. If so, your doctor’s office can send the documents to the examiner. 

In fact, your doctor can conduct the CE if the SSA considers your doctor is qualified, equipped, and willing to do the examination at the fee set by SSA. There is an advantage to having your doctor do the exam, especially if you have been seeing the doctor for quite some time and your doctor can provide relevant details about treating your disability. In this type of situation, SSA will look at the notes your doctor writes about your condition, and your doctor’s opinion or whether your condition is improving, and if, and when, you can go back to work.

While it may be ideal to have your doctor do the CE, this may not happen for several reasons: 

  • Your doctor may not agree to the fee that SSA pays for doing the exam.
  • SSA may want a specialist to do the exam and your doctor may not have the medical specialty SSA requires. For instance, if you have a mental-related disability, SSA would want an examination done by a psychologist or psychologist, rather than a general practitioner. 
  • The claims examiner may have found inconsistencies or conflicts in your file that your doctor’s notes or your other medical records cannot resolve.
  • You may have a reason for wanting another healthcare provider to perform the CE.

If you prefer that your doctor conduct the CE, talk to your doctor about it. If your doctor won’t agree to it, then follow through with the previously scheduled CE.  Be sure to go to the CE at the indicated date, time, and location. Social Security pays for the CE and reimburses you for transportation  If you cannot make the appointment, call and reschedule for another time. Failing to get a CE means that the disability claims examiner may decide that you are not disabled and deny your claim.

What to Expect at a Consultative Examination

The type of CE required depends on the information a claims examiner needs to resolve unanswered questions about your disability. For instance, you may not need an examination if an X-ray, blood test, or other laboratory tests will provide the medical information the disability examiner needs. 

If the doctor asks you about your current condition, tell the doctor about any new symptoms or physical changes that have occurred since you filed your disability claim. For example, if you have a back injury that is now limiting your mobility, describe how this change has impacted your daily activities. In addition, mention any hospitalizations or surgeries you have had due to complications from your disability. You can send this updated information to your disability claims examiner if you haven’t already done so.

The doctor may ask you why you believe your disability prevents you from working. Be specific and honest in answering the questions and include how your health or mental condition affects your ability to do your current job.

After your CE, the doctor sends your test results or the outcome of your examination to the DDS. While each disability case is different, a doctor’s report usually includes:

  • Diagnosis and prognosis of a condition 
  • Results of a test, examination, or lab work
  • A statement about the patient’s ability to work, what type of work activities the patient can still do despite the patient’s disability, or the patient’s inability to work.

Keep in mind that the doctor doing the CE will not treat or prescribe medication for your disability or complications caused by your disability. But, the doctor may note your complaints or other health issues in a report to the DDS.

Approval or Denial After the Examination? It’s Hard to Know

It’s difficult to know exactly how a CE impacts a decision on approval for disability benefits. The disability claims examiner may only want certain information about your condition, which is why you might have a brief examination. In contrast, a more extensive examination could mean that the examiner believes that you provided very few documents to substantiate your injury claim. Or, it may appear to the examiner that you have not been to a doctor in a long time; otherwise, you would have more recent medical records. 

Claims examiners have denied disability benefits based on a lack of information, reasoning that a person claiming to have a serious disability would have gone to the doctor more often for treatment. Besides your medical records, the examiner takes into account your work history, educational background, and other factors before making a decision whether to approve or deny disability benefits.

If the DDS denies your claim, you have a right to appeal the decision. If you decide to appeal, you have within 60 days of the denial to file a written request for an appeal. The appeals process consists of four levels:

  • Reconsideration. SSA will have a claims examiner who was not part of the original decision-making process review your claim. You can submit new evidence for consideration. 
  • A hearing before an administrative law judge. If you cannot attend in person, you can request a hearing to appeal the reconsideration decision via the Internet. 
  • A Social Security’s Appeals Council review. The council will review the administrative law judge’s decision. 
  • A review by the federal courts. Your case will be sent to the federal court in the district in which you live. 

The appeals process is complex, and there’s no guarantee that you will receive approval, even if you appeal. Besides that, appearing before an administrative law judge to answer questions and counter the DSS’s reasonings for your denial can be intimidating when doing it on your own. Keep in mind that the appeals process can take a year or even longer, and your finances may suffer during this time because of your inability to work due to your disability. What’s more, managing your health condition while handling a lengthy appeal may not be in your best interest. 

Some applicants who were denied benefits seek legal advice from a Social Security disability lawyer before moving forward in the appeals process. A lawyer whose practice focuses on Social Security disability knows what information SSA expects to receive before making a determination on whether to approve or deny an SSDI benefits application. Besides being knowledgeable about Social Security’s expectations, a disability lawyer takes the pressure off of their clients by representing them from the beginning to the end of a disability case. 

Not Sure About a Consultative Examination? Contact Joel Thrift Law Today 

A consultative examination is more than just a routine visit with a doctor. At Joel Thrift Law, we can review your disability claim application and advise you of any preparations you may need to make before going to your CE. Our established Social Security disability law firm handles all aspects of disability claims, from filing the initial application, collecting documentation to build a solid claim, to representing claimants in the appeals process.  

If you have been denied disability benefits, we can help you navigate every step of the appeals process, if necessary. Do not jeopardize your case by going it alone. Contact us today to schedule a consultation. 

How is Social Security Disability Calculated

How is Social Security Disability Calculated

Living with a disability is not a comfortable condition to experience. Due to physical or mental defects, people suffering from this disease will be subject to some restrictions. Also, they may not be able to complete their tasks at home and work as before. When one of the family members no longer pursues his or her life goals, he/she may feel sad and think that life is painful.

One needs the greatest and extensive support from his family, relatives, friends, and others, whether physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or psychological.

This is where the Social Security Administration comes to help. It provides benefits to people who are accidentally injured and disabled due to various reasons. It will continue to provide help until the injured person returns to work. Before receiving disability compensation and benefits, the loss will be determined and evaluated according to the system strategy of claim approval.

In terms of standardized procedures, this may indeed require time and effort. Long and complicated procedures may force claimants to withdraw their petitions.

Determining if you are eligible for Social Security disability:

Here are the steps to help you determine if you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Can you continue with your previous job?

The crucial thing is to show that you can’t continue your previous work. To do this, you will need a professional witness to appear in court to discuss your physical or mental limitations. The Social Security Administration may send its experts to testify against you, so you must have a disability lawyer ready for questioning.

Can you do another job?

After proving that you cannot complete the previous work, SSA may consider other work you can perform. Factors to be considered when making the decision are your previous work age, education, disability, and experience.

What is the extent of your disability?

Your disability should be severe enough to prevent you from engaging in other basic activities to get social security benefits. Joel Thrift Law will spend time with you and your doctor to make a plan to document your condition and show that you have a severe disability.

An experienced disability lawyer will help you determine whether your condition is eligible for disability benefits. It is important to provide Joel Thrift lawyer with proper supporting documents so that she can fully understand your situation.

Are you working at the moment?

Generally, an average monthly income of more than 1,000 USA dollars will disqualify you from receiving Social Security disability benefits. There are some exceptions, and we recommend that you consult an experienced local disability lawyer.

Is social security disability allowance taxable?

Your Social Security Disability/Insurance (SSD/SSI) benefits may be taxable. It will depend on how you archive and whether you have other sources of income. If the source of income in the past year is social security benefits, then these benefits will likely be exempt from income tax. If you have already made other money, you will need to calculate whether the adjusted total income is higher than the IRS’s current limit.

The only source of income for social security disability

The income from your benefits will usually be less than the government’s limit, and these incomes are not subject to federal taxes. This rule applies to situations where all married couples declare jointly, and neither spouse receives any income other than their SSD/SSI benefits.

Other sources of income-calculations and restrictions

If any individual or spouse (married couple) receives income from other sources, you should fill out IRS 1040 form to calculate whether you have any taxable income. The attached form will explain how to perform these calculations and will provide limits to determine which of your income is taxable. Generally, if an individual submits an adjusted income of more than 25,000 US dollars, they may be taxed. If their adjusted income exceeds 32,000 US dollars, the entire application must be taxed.

Although these rules may seem simple, it is wise to consult a tax expert to review your specific facts. A qualified tax professional or financial planner will meet with you and your spouse to collect the necessary details, data, and information. He will need all our tax documents. It will include but is not limited to the following:

  • Bill payment
  • Checking and savings account statements.
  • Form 1099
  • W-2
  • Interest payment
  • Medical fees
  • Investment income

Once all this information has been collected, your tax advisor should be able to determine the federal, state, or local taxes that your disability benefit will pay.

When preparing for a hearing with the judge, a lawyer may even be helpful to you. The lawyer you hire can prepare hearing recommendations for you. Unless you get paid, most lawyers who handle such cases will not get paid. If your case is approved, payment will usually be made from the Social Security Administration Office first, and then your money will be paid to you. It’s a great benefit for you, so you don’t need to spend money when hiring a lawyer.

For those applying for disability allowance, it is important to hire an experienced disability lawyer to represent you. Joel Thrift Law will help you present a compelling case to increase your chances of receiving disability benefits. An experienced disability claims lawyer will provide you with a free consultation and will not charge any fees until you receive Social Security disability benefits.

How much supplementary income will SSA provide you, and what benefits can you get?

If you or a family member you are unable to work due to a work injury or serious illness, you can apply for social security benefits to the Social Security Bureau.

How often can I get Social Security Disability Benefits?

After the application is approved, you will begin to receive benefits in approximately six months. You will receive social security benefits every month.

What is my income?

The amount of your monthly disability allowance is based on your average lifetime income. You can estimate your benefits from the SSA benefits calculator on their website. As a guide, the following are the social security disability standards:

Previous year: Substantial Gain Activity -Non-blind, blind, trial period

Current year: Substantial Gain Activity Non-blind, blind, trial period

What are the benefits?

In addition to the monthly amount, you may also qualify for other benefits. Other social security benefits you may be eligible for are:

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps
  • Services under the work ticket plan
  • Medical insurance (after two years)

When can I get medical insurance?

After receiving the disability allowance for two years, you will be covered.

Is my family eligible for benefits?

Yes. Some family members can be eligible for benefits. They include:

  • If your child is under 18 years old and studying full-time in school
  • Your spouse, if he is financially supporting your disabled or a child under 16 years
  • If your spouse, over 62 years old

How many benefits can a family member get?

Every family member is eligible for benefits with a monthly disability rate of 50%.

Adjust your benefits:

Your social security benefits may be changed as needed. In the following cases, your benefits may be changed or stopped:

  • Your condition improves
  • The cost of living increases
  • Any changes in your workability
  • Change of your nationality
  • You are married or divorced

What can make my social security benefits permanently or temporarily terminated?

  • You have an outstanding arrest warrant
  • You are found guilty
  • You will also receive a railway pension

What caused my social security benefits to decrease?

If you receive other government subsidies, your Social Security disability benefit may be reduced. social security benefits may be decreased in the following situations:

  • Depending on your work for which you have not paid social security taxes, you will receive a pension.
  • If your employer has not withheld social security taxes from your salary.
  • You are receiving workers’ compensation.

 Social Security Disability Lawyers:

What will social security disability changes happen? Social security disability lawyers are experts on disability law. Hiring a disability lawyer can help you increase your chances of receiving disability benefits and may affect your application’s speed from the day you start receiving benefits. If you have questions about the Social Security disability application or have a case where you did not receive benefits in the previous year, please consider contacting an experienced disability lawyer.

If you seek a Social Security disability claim, the best chance of getting a hearing and winning the claim is to hire an attorney with experience in Social Security disability law. Once you think you have a claim, start looking for an SSD lawyer to represent you.  

Why You Should Contact Joel Thrift Law 

If you are looking for a professional disability lawyer to help you deal with your current case and bring some old and forgotten cases back to life, Joel Thrift Law will be at your service. We have experienced lawyers with the expertise needed to help you resolve messy paperwork, appeals, and government-requested forms to secure your claim. At Joel Thrift Law, our client satisfaction is our main priority. Call us today and get free quotes on all our services.

Obtaining Social Security Disability for COPD

Obtaining Social Security Disability for COPD

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) isn’t just one disease but a constellation of lung disorders that include chronic bronchitis and emphysema. No cure for COPD currently exists but oxygen supplementation, bronchodilators and oral steroids can help slow progression of the disease and provide some symptom relief. Early signs of COPD involve coughing that produces mucus, becoming short of breath easily, tightness in the chest area and a whistling or wheezing noise when the person breathes. Individuals with COPD often suffer from recurring respiratory infections that exacerbate symptoms.

Cigarette smoking is the most common cause of COPD globally. In fact, COPD is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. COPD is also one of the top health reasons people seek social security disability benefits when they can no longer work or even take care of themselves. Not only does COPD make it difficult to breath, this chronic disease can also reduce functioning of major organs due to low oxygen levels in the bloodstream and compromise of the immune system.

The Social Security System does provide SSD for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and medical conditions arising from complications of COPD. Individuals over 50 years old typically have an easier time being approved because the SSA uses a medical-vocational grid to determine eligibility. Unless younger claimants can prove their COPD symptoms are moderately severe or severe, they may be need to appeal several times before getting approved for SSD benefits.

What is the SSA’s Medical-Vocational Grid?

The Social Security Administration considers the ability for individuals over 50 to perform old skills or learn new skills is limited compared to people under 50. For this reason, SSA application evaluators rely on “grids” to determine SSD eligibility for older people with COPD. Factors included in the medical-vocational grid include:

  • Age
  • Education level (high school/college grad/vocational certifications)
  • Previous employment/skills related to that employment
  • Any new skills learned after leaving previous employment sector
  • Claimant’s residual functional capacity (RFC)

An example of how the SSA determines approval of COPD disability when this grid is used would be rule 201.3. This rules states that a person of “advanced age” (over 55) who is skilled or semi-skilled with transferable skills but limited education is considered “not disabled” if their COPD symptoms are not severe enough to prevent them from working.

Residual Functioning Capacity

The Social Security Administration defines residual functioning capacity as a claimant’s “ability to work full-time on a sustained basis”. The medical documentation provided by applicants is vital to ensuring the SSA gets a clear, objective picture of what the applicant can and cannot do. RFC ratings are given to evaluate a person’s ability to perform sedentary work, light to medium work or heavy work. Being initially approved for disability benefits for COPD means proving that you could not sit and do some kind of work without experiencing symptoms severe enough to dangerously affect your health. If an applicant cannot prove advanced COPD with medical documents and reports, the SSA is likely to deny the request. However, be aware that the older an applicant is, the more likely the SSA will approve your SSD application.

The SSA will only accept RFC documentation from physicians or other licensed medical professional specializing in lung disorders. Details on RFC paperwork should include exactly how much weight an applicant can lift safely, how long they can stand or walk without experiencing health problems and how their inability to breathe properly affects employment potential. This allows the SSA to create an RFC assessment based on doctor reports and results of one or more breathing tests.

Applicants should also ensure physicians include all other health issues on reports regardless if they are associated complications of COPD. Even if you are applying specifically for SSD benefits because of COPD, the Social Security Administration’s board of evalutors will look at all other health problems that could potentially make the difference between being approved or being denied.

What is Pulmonary Function Testing and Why Is It Important for Determining SSD Eligibility for COPD?

Multiple pulmonary function tests (PFTs) are necessary for assessing lung functioning. In addition to chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, PFTs are also given to people with asthma, chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and scleroderma. The most common type of PFT is called a spirometry test. If you are planning to apply for SSD benefits for COPD, you will need detailed documentation regarding the results of multiple PFTs.

Spirometry–calculates how much air a patient can inhale and exhale as well as how quickly lungs can empty themselves of oxygen in one second. You will be asked to exhale as much air as possible into a tube connected to a spirometer machine.

Lung Diffusion Capacity–this test analyzes how quickly a person’s red blood cells can transport oxygen to the lungs. LDCs are important to getting approved for SSD if you have COPD because it also shows the amount of damage done to blood vessels connecting the lungs and heart

Body Plethysmography--by measuring how much air remains in the lungs after exhaling, doctors can tell how badly COPD has damaged lung capacity. Body plethysmographies are also useful for adjusting medications, oxygen supplementation and use of bronchodilators

Cardiopulmonary Stress Test–CSTs involve patients walking on treadmills or riding a stationary bicycle. Doctors record respiration and heart rate to determine severity level of COPD or other progressive respiratory disease. While performing some kind of exercise, patients will breathe into a tube attached to a machine that provides physicians with results. People with moderate to severe COPD may only be able to walk or ride a bicycle for a few seconds before feeling dizzy or weak. This type of medical information is vital to increasing your chances of being approved for disability benefits for COPD 

Fractional Exhaled Nitric Oxide Test–people with COPD and asthma may need to take this test to determine if abnormal levels of nitric oxide exist in their bloodstream. By measuring how much nitric oxide is in exhaled breaths, the FENO test tells physicians if lungs are inflamed and dysfunctional

Pulse Oximetry Test–another test to analyze oxygen levels in red blood cells. Since COPD prevents the lungs from absorbing and dispersing oxygen molecules into the bloodstream, doctors can tell how much oxygen is available for the body to utilize.

Arterial Blood Gas Test--a blood sample is taken from the wrist for this test. Arteries with low oxygen levels and high carbon dioxide levels means lungs are unable to exhale enough carbon dioxide to prevent dangerously high amounts from causing additional health problems

Why Would the SSA Deny a Disability Claim for COPD?

Be aware that the Social Security Administration does not make attempts to contact an applicant’s treating physicians, surgeons or other healthcare professional upon receiving a first SSD request claim. Applicants are expected to include all essential documentation in their application packet. The SSA also expects all forms to be filled out correctly and completely. Finding one or two simple errors on SSD applications could give them reason to deny someone their SSD benefits.

Another reason COPD disability benefits are denied is due to lack of evidence that the person was ever hospitalized for COPD or suffered complications severe enough to warrant emergency treatment. Being diagnosed with COPD is not enough for the SSA to approve disability benefits. To increase their chances of being approved, applicants should be able to show they have been hospitalized at least three times over a 12-month period for symptoms related to COPD. These symptoms are not limited to breathing difficulties and could involve heart, circulatory or neurological issues caused by lack of oxygen.

The Social Security Administration will never accept a physician’s statement asserting their patient is “disabled” without descriptions of the patient’s disability and contextual information indicating the patient’s level of disability. Disability attorneys handling COPD applications for SSA benefits often request attending physicians complete a unique medical source statement form that delineates accurate information. Sometimes called “solid supporting” documents, these attorney-directed forms often make all the difference during an appeals hearing following an initial denial from the SSA.

What Happens If the SSA Denies Your Application for COPD Disability Benefits?

The SSA provides several options for applicants who have had their initial claim denied for COPD disability benefits. The first option is to request an appeal within 60 days of receiving a denial letter in the mail. This first appeal level is called “reconsideration” and involves a comprehensive review of the denied claim by an SSA evaluator was not part of the initial evaluation. In addition, applicants are allowed to submit new medical evidence regarding the severity of their COPD.

If the reconsideration appeal results in another denial, the applicant can file an appeal with an administrative law judge (ALJ). Although anyone filing for disability for any medical reason is strongly recommended to hire an experienced disability attorney to handle their case, a second appeal demands the legal expertise of an SSA attorney. Denial by an ALJ means you are likely not to receive benefits for at least another year or more since another appeal involves the federal court.

COPD is a progressive, serious illness that can reduce quality of life and leave you financially unstable because you can’t work. Don’t delay in receiving SSD benefits can you need by contacting Joel Thrift today. From initial filing of your claim to receiving your approval notice in the mail, disability attorney Joel Thrift will manage your claim successfully using in-depth knowledge of exactly what the SSA expects from disability applications. Call to schedule an appointment.