Top 10 considerations – Social Security disability benefits application
10) Are you currently working and earning over substantial gainful activity level?
Before the Social Security Administration will even review your medical conditions, they will first look at whether you are currently working. If you are working part time and your before tax earnings are under $1,130.00 then you are eligible to apply for disability benefits. Full time work or monthly before tax earnings over $1,130.00 are considered substantial by the Social Security Administration and you will automatically be denied. The earnings thresholds change each year, please see https://www.socialsecurity.gov/oact/cola/sga.html for the most accurate information on Top 10 considerations – Social Security disability benefits application.
9) Are you currently collecting unemployment benefits?
There is no rule preventing an individual from collecting unemployment benefits while applying for Social Security disability benefits. However, some Social Security judges consider collecting unemployment benefits at the same time as applying for disability benefits to be inconsistent. When an individual collects unemployment benefits they must certify that they are able to work and are looking for work, whereas Social Security disability benefits are for people who are unable to work.
8) What does your social media activity display about your daily activities?
The Social Security Administration does, on occasion, investigate claims; these investigations are called Cooperative Disability Investigations. Please see http://oig.ssa.gov/newsroom/video-gallery/CDI for more information.
7) Did your job end due to your disabling condition(s) or other reasons?
The Social Security Administration will ask you whether your job ended due to your alleged disabling conditions or for other reasons, i.e. did your job end because you moved, were you laid off, or did you quit. It will benefit your claim if your job ended directly due to your alleged disabling condition.
6) Can you perform a different type of job/have you tried vocational rehabilitation?
Even if your conditions prevent you from performing the type of work you have done in the past, this does not necessarily mean your claim will automatically be approved. The Social Security Administration will also consider if you can adjust to other types of work. If you are younger than 50, whether or not you can perform other types of work will be an important aspect of your case.
5) Are you reachable (do you have a working phone and current address)?
During the disability process the Social Security Administration will need to contact you to complete additional forms. If Social Security is unable to reach you, after several attempts, your case will likely
4) Your age. Are you younger than 50, between 50-55 or over 55?
The Social Security Administration has set up age categories to help with the claim process. Individuals who are 18 to 49 are considered “younger individuals,” those 50-54 are considered to be “closely approaching advanced age,” individuals who are 55 and over are considered “advanced age,” and individuals 60-65 are considered “closely approaching retirement age.” The Social Security rules are generally more favorable to individuals over the age of 50.
3) Are you currently receiving ongoing medical treatment?
The Social Security Administration is not going to determine that you are disabled based on your word alone; therefore you must have medical documentation. Social Security will consider your inability to afford treatment, but it is also important that you attempt to receive treatment through a free clinic. For more information on how the Social Security Administration considers medical treatment, please review this video for specific information.
2) Do you have objective evidence of the severity of your condition?
Not only is it important that you have medical documentation, but it is also important to be aware of what that documentation says about the severity of your conditions. For example, do your medical records indicate abnormal findings on exams, and if applicable, does imaging document moderate to severe abnormalities.
1) Are you financially able to pursue a disability claim as the process may take 2+ years?
When applying for disability benefits it is important to be aware of the time it will take for the Social Security Administration to process your claim. Currently, the first level of claim processing (initial level) takes on average six months; if your claim is denied, the second level of claim processing (reconsideration level) takes on average an additional six months. If your claim is denied at the first two levels the wait time for a hearing varies depending on which hearing office is closest to you; the average wait time for a hearing to be scheduled is an additional 14-20 months. The most current wait times for a hearing can be found at https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/01_NetStat_Report.html.