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Philadelphia Social Security Disability Law Blog

SSI benefits are available for Philadelphia residents

Many Philadelphia residents are unable to work due to a debilitating illness or medical condition. As a result, they can have trouble making ends meet. Generally, workers who have paid enough into the Social Security system are eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits. However, not everyone is eligible for these benefits. Fortunately, there is another option for people with limited income and resources.

The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program accommodates those who do not meet the work requirements of the SSDI program. However, you must be a U.S. resident 65 or older and/or blind or disabled. The disability must keep you from working and have lasted at least a year or be expected to last at least a year. You must also earn less than $1,170 per month in 2017 doing work that involves substantial gainful activity. Substantial gainful activity usually refers to doing work that requires significant use of your body and/or mind.

What medical conditions qualify me for SSD benefits?

If you have been unable to work due to a long-term illness or injury, you may be wondering whether your medical condition qualifies you for Social Security Disability. These disability benefits can provide you with the financial support you need as you learn to manage your condition, including helping to cover medical expenses and lost wages.

To find out if your medical condition qualifies you for disability benefits, you should first refer to the Social Security Administration's "Listing of Medical Impairments," also known as the Blue Book. If your condition is listed there, you automatically qualify for disability benefits, assuming that you have worked enough hours in positions covered by Social Security. Certain respiratory illnesses (e.g. asthma, cystic fibrosis), cardiovascular conditions (e.g. chronic heart failure), digestive ailments (e.g. liver disease, IBD), musculoskeletal issues, and neurological disorders (e.g. multiple sclerosis) are all covered under the blue book guidelines, along with many others. Mental illnesses such as depression and intellectual disability are also covered. Children under the age of 18 have their own list of conditions, but most are the same as those on the adult list.

Young people should be aware of disability benefits

Younger Americans have a tendency to think that Social Security Disability benefits are something only older people have to worry about. However, many millennials may find themselves requiring disability benefits sooner than they think. According to the Social Security Administration, someone who starts working at the age of 20 has a 25 percent chance of needing disability benefits before age 67.

The reality is that many younger people suffer injuries and illness that require them to take time off work. Some of these people may never be able to work again due to permanent disability. Yet, statistics show that nearly 70 percent of people working in the private sector do not have long-term disability insurance meaning that they will have to depend on disability benefits. However, there is no guarantee that you will receive social security disability benefits. In fact, many claims for disability benefits are denied for a multitude of reasons.

New rules make SSD benefits claims more challenging

If you have been injured and can no longer work, then you may be eligible to receive Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, these benefits are not easy to come by. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), the number of claim approvals and people receiving disability benefits has gone down. In fact, the number of people receiving benefits is at a five-year low with only 8.8 million getting SSD benefits.

Disability claims in Pennsylvania are denied for a multitude of reasons. Some of these denials stem from lack of proper medical evidence and documentation. To establish a need for benefits, you will need to provide information regarding your medical condition and treatments. In the past, if your physician provided a report supporting your need for benefits, that report would play a significant role in convincing the SSA to approve your claim. However, new regulations have effectively put a stop to the special consideration of physician reports. These new rules also prohibit giving additional weight to disability determinations by the Department of Veteran's Affairs and other agencies.

An attorney may be able to help in your fight for SSD benefits

Millions of people all across the country suffer debilitating injuries and illness that keep them from earning a living. An inability to work can be financially devastating for accident victims and their families. Fortunately, Social Security Disability benefits are available to people suffering from a variety of medical conditions and injuries.

Many people eligible for SSD benefits suffer from back injuries and conditions such as herniated disks, osteoporosis, and compression fractures. A variety of injuries to the hip, knee, leg, arm, and elbow are also covered. However, physical injuries are not the only ailments covered. Those suffering from neurological disorders, heart conditions, autoimmune diseases, and other illnesses may qualify for SSD benefits. Even those individuals suffering from migraine headaches and chronic fatigue syndrome may qualify for benefits.

What can help me apply for Social Security Disability?

If you are suffering from a long-term disability that keeps you from working, then you may be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. In order to apply for benefits, you need to file an application for SSD with the Social Security Administration (SSA) as soon as possible. Social Security Disability claims take a long time to process (three to five months), so it is important to do whatever you can to strengthen your claim and get it approved quickly.

To make the process go faster, you should have your personal information and medical records readily available. You will need medical records, names and dosages of medications, lab results, and your most recent W-2s to show when and where you worked before the injury occurred.

Preparing for the application and interview process for benefits

There is a lot to know about the Social Security disability application process and to be prepared for when applying for disability benefits. Suffering with a disability can certainly be stressful. The change from working to being unable to work because of a disability can be a challenging one. Social Security disability (SSD) benefits are a good option for disabled individuals to consider. As a result, disabled individuals should be familiar with how to navigate the application process for disability benefits, including the interview process.

There are a variety of questions the applicant for SSD benefits should expect to be asked and be prepared to answer. Because eligibility for disability benefits is based on work history and the nature of the medical condition the disabled individual suffers from which prevents the disabled individual from working, the applicant should be prepared to provide the dates they last worked. They should also be prepared to provide the names, dates of visits and contact information for doctors and the names of medications the applicant takes and medical tests they have had performed. Applicants for Supplemental Security Income should be prepared for different questions.

Who determines if I am eligible for disability benefits?

If you need Social Security disability benefits, it is important to understand who determines your eligibility and to also understand the process of applying for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. Understanding the process, and how to navigate it, can help place the disabled individual in the best possible position to obtain disability benefits.

A disability benefits determination depends on several factors. The Social Security Administration initially reviews the application for disability to check that it meets basic qualifications which includes a review of the applicant's work history and any work activities the applicant is currently engaged in. The application is then progressed to a Disability Determination Services office in the state where the applicant resides. The initial decision concerning benefits is made by the state agency which reviews medical evidence from the applicant's doctor and any other medical care providers.

Social Security Administration to receive funding for hearings

The blog recently discussed the appeals process when applicants have been denied Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. Unfortunately, there has been a significant backlog to receive a hearing following a denial of benefits which is one level in the appeals process. There are currently 1.1 million applications for SSD benefits waiting for a hearing and the average wait time from initial application to a hearing decision is 26 months.

Congress recently addressed this issue by designating $150 million to address the hearing backlog. The funding could be used to hire additional administrative law judges and staff, as well as for other measures, to resolve the hearing backlog. The current projection for reduction of the backlog is 2020 but it is hoped that the funding will be able to help clear the backlog for hearings sooner. In the long term, the Social Security Administration is hiring more administrative law judges to reduce wait times for hearings.

Disability applicants should understand the appeals process

Being denied for Social Security disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income is not the end of the process of applying for benefits and should not be considered the end of the process. The majority of applications for disability benefits are initially denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) which is why it is important for disabled individuals to be familiar with their rights as applicants to appeal.

The SSA provides different programs for disabled individuals in different situations so they should also be familiar with the different options that may be available to them including Social Security disability or Supplemental Security Income. Applicants for disability benefits who have a physical or mental medical condition that is severe enough to prevent them from working should be familiar with the application and appeals processes for disability benefits.

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Pennsylvania Bar Association Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee Philadelphia Bar Co-Chair SSD Committee