Gade & Parekh, LLP formerly the Law Office of Elizabeth Gade, Inc. Gade & Parekh, LLP formerly the Law Office of Elizabeth Gade, Inc.

Sacramento Social Security Disability Legal Blog

Individuals must be totally disabled to receive benefits

Individuals in California who are seeking disability benefits must show that it will prevent them from holding gainful employment for 12 months. They may also qualify if a condition has prevented them from working for the last 12 months. When disability benefits are awarded, it is assumed that the disability is permanent. Those who receive benefits may be subject to a continuing disability review to determine if their conditions have improved.

The duration of a person's condition is one data point used to determine the severity of that condition. An examiner will also look at medical records as well as any information provided by a third-party contact. In some cases, an administrative law judge will determine that a disability is likely to last for 12 months. However, an applicant will need to go through a reconsideration appeal prior to appearing before a judge.

The Social Security Disability appeals process

For many people in California, the Social Security Disability application process can be a lengthy and arduous ordeal. Many deserving claimants are denied when they first seek disability benefits. While some people give up on their claim after an initial rejection, moving forward with an appeal can provide a better chance for success. There are two initial appeals in the disability benefits process, and people have a much higher probability of success with the second stage appeal than with the initial reconsideration appeal. However, moving through the reconsideration process is necessary in order to obtain a disability hearing.

Only around 10 or 15% of claim denials are overturned at the reconsideration appeal level, the first type of appeal after an initial denial. The SSD benefits application is sent back to the same state agency that issued the original denial. This means that the same procedures and evaluation are generally applied once again to the claim. While a different examiner performs the reconsideration, he or she generally looks for serious error on the part of the initial examiner rather than seeking new evidence.

How work activity can affect a disability benefits application

People in California who are unable to work because of their disabilities may apply for Social Security Disability benefits. However, in order for people to receive benefits, they must be assessed as having significant limitations that prevent them from engaging in work activities. The Social Security Administration determines if an applicant is sufficiently disabled to receive benefit by evaluating his or her current condition as well as work histories. A disability examiner - or, later, an administrative law judge - will give the applicant a residual functional capacity rating.

These ratings can apply to both mental and physical capacities. However, it is important for applicants for SSD benefits to show that they cannot support themselves by gainfully working. Therefore, people who are still working for a salary and make above the SSA's monthly earnings limit will receive a denial of their claims, even if they have significant disabilities. When a case is denied for this reason, the applicant's level of disability is never assessed. The 2019 monthly earnings limit is $1220.00 gross income before taxes, but it can change as a result of inflation.

What to expect after filing for disability benefits

Individuals in California may ask for disability benefits if they have a mental or physical condition that prevents them from obtaining a gainful living. Generally speaking, applicants who have had their applications denied will hear back in a relatively short period of time. This is because they only have 65 days to file an appeal. Typically, it takes at least one appeal before an application is approved, and it is not uncommon to appeal twice before this happens.

If a claim is approved, an individual can expect to receive an approval notice within a few days. About 70 percent of initial claims are denied, and about 80 percent of claims are denied at the initial reconsideration level. If claims are denied at both of these levels, it may be possible to have the case heard before an administrative law judge.

Social Security Disability and hearing loss

Some California residents with hearing impairments may wonder if they qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. There is some information about hearing problems included in the Social Security Administration's blue book for assessing disability eligibility, but it may indicate little about whether a particular claimant is eligible for benefits. When a claim is made for disability benefits based on hearing loss or impairment, there are several criteria that the agency may use to determine whether a particular applicant is eligible.

Audiometric testing is an important part of the disability claims process for people with hearing loss. Audiometry is used to test a person's hearing levels as well as his or her ability to differentiate speech, sound and pitch. This is one of the most important elements used to reach a decision. A claimant may present a report from an audiologist or the disability examiner reviewing the claim will organize a consultative examination.

Can SSD benefits be cut off?

Many people living in California receive Social Security disability benefits. In most cases, these individuals rely on that income to pay for basic living expenses. As a result, benefit recipients are often concerned about the possibility that their benefits could be cut off.

SSD benefits are awarded to people who have become disabled and are no longer able to earn a significant income. The expectation when awarding these benefits is that the recipient has a disability that severely impairs his or her ability to maintain employment and that this impairment will last for at least a year.

Your disability benefits: How long does it take?

You can't return to your job. The injury you suffered left you with a permanent disability that means you will never work again. In many ways, it feels like the end, and you're scrambling around trying to figure out what next steps to take. You still have a long life ahead of you and you must know how to make ends meet.

That's when you learn about Social Security Disability benefits. You decide to apply, hoping they can help to cover the necessary costs you face.

Social networks may play a larger role in receiving SSD benefits

Some individuals in California have seen the way social networks can impact their life at school or work in a negative way. It may be surprising to some that what they post on Facebook and Instagram may soon affect their Social Security disability claim. In the budget for 2020 that was released by the Social Security Administration, more money would be used to examine social networks as a way to see if an applicant meets the criteria for disability benefits.

This is not something that is completely new for the Social Security Administration. Staff members already use social networks to some extent to identify fraudulent claims. What they would like to do is use social networks to a larger extent to better assess a claim and determine if someone is eligible for Social Security disability.

Medical vocational allowance could enable SSDI for MS patients

Multiple sclerosis affects many people in California. This neurological disease has no cure, and the symptoms typically worsen over time. Eventually, a person with MS will experience debilitating symptoms that interfere with motor function, mental function and vision as well as extreme fatigue. The Social Security Administration specifically recognizes MS as a disabling disease for the purposes of granting disability benefits as long as an applicant meets explicit criteria. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, a person might fall short of meeting enough requirements, but the medical vocational allowance offers a chance to collect benefits if the person can no longer work for a living.

When a disability examiner evaluates an application from a person with a medically documented diagnosis of MS, they must consider multiple factors before approving a medical vocational allowance. The applicant's age, education, remaining physical and mental functions, work experience and ability to transfer skills to different jobs will influence the decision.

The importance of listing every medical condition

California residents who are planning on filing for Social Security Disability benefits are advised to list all of their conditions when applying. This is because it is easier to have a claim approved on the basis of multiple conditions as opposed to just one. The more impairments that a person can claim, the more likely it is that an examiner will determine that an individual is unable to work now or in the future.

It is important to note that a person can obtain benefits if he or she only has a single condition. Applicants are encouraged to list a condition even if that person doesn't think that it results in a disability. In some cases, an individual will apply for benefits for one condition but have an application approved based on another physical or mental condition listed. Therefore, failing to communicate the presence of any type of physical or mental ailment could be the difference between getting an application approved or denied.

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