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Philadelphia Social Security Disability Law Blog

Keeping Social Security disability benefits while living abroad

Individuals who are eligible for or receiving Social Security Disability benefits for illnesses and injuries that prevent them from working can, in many cases, maintain their benefits, if they live outside of the country. This post will generally discuss what it means to live abroad, some of the geographic restrictions that the Social Security Administration places on payments and other issues Pennsylvanians may encounter if they leave the United States while receiving disability benefits.

Living outside of the United States includes living outside of the fifty states as well as outside of territories held by the United States, including, but limited to, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Traveling abroad is not enough to deem someone living abroad. Generally, a person must reside outside of the United States for 30-straight days to be considered living abroad.

Is it time to apply for Social Security disability benefits?

A long-term or permanent illness or injury is a burden that no Philadelphia resident wants to bear. It can prevent a person from living the life that they want to experience, spending time with the people they know and love, and holding down a job to pay their bills and provide for those who depend upon them for their needs.

Ailments that prevent individuals from working and that last for at least a year may qualify individuals for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits come in the form of financial support and may be used by qualifying individuals to put roofs over their heads, food on their tables and clothing on their backs. For many, Social Security disability benefits are a necessary form of support to keep them from losing the capacity to care for themselves.

Family members may qualify Social Security disability benefits

When a disabling illness or injury prevents a Philadelphia resident from working to support their family, they may turn to the Social Security Administration's application process to request disability benefits. Disability benefits are available to men and women who cannot work because of their qualifying medical conditions, and who need financial support to live their lives.

However, when a disability prevents a person from earning an income the loss of their capacity to work often affects more than just them. For example, if the person is married or has children who depend on them, the benefits that they receive from the Social Security Administration may be insufficient to provide for all of their needs.

How does the Social Security Administration define disability?

At some point in their life a Philadelphia resident will experience an illness, injury or ailment that keeps them from going to work. From a bad cold to a broken bone, accidents and sicknesses hit individuals throughout their lives and keep them from doing what they need to do to live their lives. However, not every ailment that plagues a Pennsylvanian will qualify them for benefits from the Social Security Administration.

In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits a person's ailment must meet the Social Security Administration's established definition of disability. There are three parts to the definition, and each part will be discussed in turn below.

Individuals with spine injuries may seek disability benefits

Social Security disability benefits are available for individuals who suffer from ailments that deprive them from the opportunity to work and earn gainful wages. Temporary injuries and illnesses that keep individuals out of work for short durations of time generally do not qualify them for disability benefits. However, when a Pennsylvania resident sustains a serious complication to a major musculoskeletal system of their body and the complication is permanent, then they may be able to pursue support from the Social Security Administration.

One area of musculoskeletal disorders that may be covered by Social Security disability benefits is spinal cord damage. Damage to the spinal cord can come in many forms, from degenerative disorders such as osteoarthritis and degenerative disc disease, as well as injuries such as fractures to the bones of the spinal column. In order to file a successful claim for benefits an individual must show sufficient evidence that their spinal cord disorder prevents them from working.

What to do after a claim for disability benefits has been denied

Even when a disabled individual in Philadelphia is familiar with the initial application process for disability benefits, they may not be approved right away for Social Security disability benefits. Most applications for disability benefits are initially denied. Especially because important time limits apply, it is necessary for applicants to be aware of the ways to challenge a denial of benefits.

The Social Security Administration provides a long process to appeal a denial of benefits that includes four level of appeal. The appeals process includes an initial request for reconsideration in states where that is available; a hearing before an administrative law judge; an appeal to the Social Security Administration's Appeals Council; and an appeal to the federal court.

The importance of disability benefits

Knowing what to do in circumstances of an unexpected disability is important for individuals in Pennsylvania facing an unexpected inability to work and mounting medical bills. There are different disability options, and one is Social Security disability. Social Security disability (SSD) is a program through the federal government that provides disability benefits to individuals who are unable to work because of a permanent disabling condition.

In addition to having a disabling medical condition that prevents them from working, applicants for disability must also have the necessary work history to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Workers earn work credits while working and paying into the Social Security system. Disabled individuals must also suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from gainful employment and is expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death.

'Compassionate allowances' for Social Security disability

Because the Social Security disability application process can be lengthy and sometimes complex, it is helpful for disabled individuals in Pennsylvania to be familiar with the compassionate allowances program and what it entails. The compassionate allowances program allows applicants who suffer from medical conditions on the list of compassionate allowances to have their application for benefits expedited.

The compassionate allowances list includes medical conditions that are considered so severe that it is ensured they will qualify for benefits. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions on the compassionate allowances list that currently numbers 165 qualifying medical conditions. Medical conditions on the list include various forms of cancer, heart disease, brain injury, neurological disorders, immune system disorders and others. The expedited process can save months or years in processing times.

Steps following a denied claim for disability benefits

When a claim for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits has been denied, it can be a serious concern for disabled individuals in Philadelphia who may badly need the benefits provided by Social Security disability insurance. SSD benefits can help disabled individuals with their daily needs, as life may be a struggle while they are facing a disability and an inability to work. It is important for disabled individuals to be aware that if their claim for SSD benefits has been denied, appeals options are available.

Following a denied claim for Social Security disability benefits, several levels of appeal are possible. The majority of initial claims for Social Security disability benefits are denied, so it is important not to become discouraged. Generally, the disabled applicant has 60 days from the claim denial to file an appeal, so it is essential to be familiar with the timelines and adhere to them.

Helpful guidance through the Social Security disability

The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a challenging process. Because most applications are initially denied, and because of the availability of options for appeals, trained guidance can be useful throughout the application and appeals processes, if necessary. The definition of disability to qualify for Social Security disability is a strict one and requires that the disabled individual suffers from an impairment that prevents them from doing substantial work and that the impairment is expected to last a year or longer or result in death.

Though eligibility for SSD benefits does depend on work history, it does not depend on financial resources, however, Supplemental Security Income is an option for those of limited income and resources to consider. To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the applicant must first submit an application, including medical records. If the application is denied, there are 4 levels of appeal for the disabled individual to consider.

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