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Legal Knowledge, Human Wisdom

Understanding the Complexity of Social Security Disability Laws and Determinations

General Article

 Those who suffer from a medical disability may often find maintaining employment difficult, if not completely impossible. Depending on the specific health condition, restrictions such as the ability to walk, sit or stand for prolonged periods can severely impact career options. Those who require treatments at regular intervals or routinely utilize medical equipment may also find themselves in a similar predicament. However, there are government programs that can help those who are unable to work due to illness or other debility.

Social Security Disability Program

One of the most common programs available to those unable to work due to a disability is governed by the Social Security Administration, (SSA). This disability program is in place for those who have worked and have paid social security taxes but are no longer able to maintain employment due to qualified medical reasons. Those who are eligible for this program receive a monthly benefit that is based upon previous year’s earnings. In some cases, qualified dependents, such as a spouse or child are also eligible to receive this benefit. Under certain circumstances, a widow or widower may receive disability payments as well. As with most government programs, there are criteria that must be met to receive this cash assistance benefit. Therefore, it is important to understand the laws governing SSA Disability and Criteria.

Program Eligibility Criteria

The SSA has very strict requirements in place for those who wish to seek this type of assistance. Some of the requirements include but are not limited to a physician verified disability expected to last a minimum of one year or more, an illness expected to result in death, the inability to continue with previous employment tasks and an inability to adapt to a new employment environment because of disability. In addition to these guidelines, the Social Security Administration also requires that the individual have a minimum amount of work credits. Work credits accrue annually based on income and up to four per year may be earned. The number of credits necessary to receive disability payments changes annually.

Applying for Disability Benefits

As mentioned above, there are strict criteria in place to meet requirements of this government program. One must start with the initial application which may be completed online, by phone or at a local SSA office. The applicant can expect to provide personal identifying information, as well as details regarding the disability for which assistance is being sought. From there, the claim review begins. Disability Determination Services, or simply DDS, collects information from sources to determine if the applicant is disabled. In some cases, the claim may go before an administrative law judge. Those who have previously been denied and have sought legal assistance with social security disability Fredericksburg VA may have their case heard by this type of judge during an appeal. It is not uncommon for the first disability claim to be denied.

Special Considerations and Program Exceptions

Social security disability payments are not strictly limited to the scenarios above. There are special considerations provided to certain groups of individuals. Those who are legally blind, children and armed forces veterans may also be entitled to disability payments. Some of these cases may even allow employment, so long as income requirements are met. There are also programs in place that allow the applicant a speedy determination process. Quick Determination Process and Compassionate Allowances are two such programs that were designed to decrease wait time for benefit eligibility and payment for those who suffer from specific diagnoses or who have a high probability of an approved disability claim.