Social Security Disability Benefits

Losing Your Social Security Benefits

There are several reasons that could result in the loss of Social Security benefits. In 2015, more than 150,000 people in Cook County had successfully submitted Social Security claims Chicago. Social Security is meant to be available when it is needed. It is important to understand the potential causes that could result in the loss of those benefits. […]

Claiming Social Security Spousal Benefits

a couple, social securityA married person who has never contributed to the Social Security fund may still be eligible for Social Security benefits if his or her spouse paid into it. Both spouses must meet certain criteria in order to claim the spousal benefit. […]

Calculating SSDI Benefits

social security benefits formIndividuals who are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance will receive benefits based on their average lifetime earnings. These payments can range from $700 and up to $2,687 per month. On average, recipients receive payments of $1,171 per month. […]

Lifeline Program Helps Social Security Beneficiaries Manage Online Benefits

Closeup of using cellphone, online benefitsOn July 30th, thousands of Social Security recipients lost access to online account management because of a new government regulation. The new rules require beneficiaries to have a cell phone that receives text messages in order to improve account authentication.

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Autism: Disability Benefits For Children And Adults

Autism has become increasingly prevalent in the U.S. and both children and adults on the autism spectrum may be eligible for SSI or SSDI if they meet the requirements. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of every 68 children born today are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. These disorders are lifelong and range in severity. Some people who have autism will never be able to work and may require lifetime care. […]

SSDI Appeal Levels

A social security benefit claim with a DENIED stampAfter an applicant receives a denial for social security disability insurance or supplemental security income, there are four levels of appeal that are available to him or her. If the applicant receives an approval at any level of appeal, he or she does not need to continue with the additional levels. A disability attorney in Chicago helps his or her clients with gathering the evidence they will need for the various stages of appeal.

Reconsideration

A person can request a reconsideration of the denial of his or her SSDI or SSI application. A different person than the one who initially made the decision will then review the applicant’s file in order to make his or her own determination. The applicant will then be notified of the decision. If the applicant is again denied, he or she will have 60 days to request a hearing. It is important to meet this deadline or else the person will have to start the process over from the beginning.

Administrative Law Hearing

Most disability attorneys in Chicago start working on clients’ disability applications before the hearing in order to help them prepare. The hearing is held before an administrative law judge. It is more informal than other types of court hearings. The judge will hear evidence about the applicant’s disability and his or her ability to work. The judge will review the doctors’ reports, medical record and medical examinations. Around 66 percent of applicants receive approvals from administrative law judges.

Appeals Council

People who are denied at the hearing level may request a review by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council is not required to review every claim. It can simply affirm the denial without a review. If it does grant a review, the Appeals Council may either conduct it or it may instead send the matter to another administrative law judge. People will be notified via mail of the Appeals Council’s decision.

Federal Court

The final level of appeal for SSDI and SSI claims is federal court. People may file cases in federal court appealing their denials. They should be aware that federal court filings are expensive, and the cases may take many months or years. If a person’s application has been denied at each of the lower levels, he or she might want to discuss whether or not to appeal it to federal court with his or her disability attorney in Chicago.

Obtaining Children’s Benefits When You Are Disabled

A disabled child is playing, children's disability benefitsWhen one or both parents qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, dependent children may qualify to receive SSDI benefits as well. According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), approximately 4.3 million children in the United States receive Social Security benefits because one or both parents are either retired, deceased, or disabled.

Child Eligibility for SSDI Auxiliary Benefits

To be eligible to receive monthly benefits for a parent’s disability, a dependent child must be either the biological child, adopted child or stepchild of the disabled parent. In some situations, dependent grandchildren may qualify to receive benefits as well. Additionally, the child must be:

  • Under the age of 18
  • Unmarried
  • Between the ages of 18 and 19 and a full time student in a grade no higher than 12
  • 18 or older and suffer from a disability that began before the age of 22

Maximum SSDI Benefit Per Family

Within each family, the eligible child could receive up to 1/2 of the parent’s full SSDI benefit amount. The total amount that each family is eligible to receive is limited, however. The maximum amount allowed per family depends on the disabled individual’s benefit amount and the number of family members who qualify on that record. In most cases, the maximum benefit payable to each family is between 150 and 180 percent of the disabled individual’s benefit amount. When the total amount that would be payable to all members of the family in more than the allowable amount, each dependent’s benefit will be reduced accordingly. The disabled individual’s benefit will not be reduced. Additionally, if an ex-spouse receives benefits on a disabled individual’s record, that amount is not included in the family maximum.

SSDI Benefits for Grandchildren

Grandchildren and step-grandchildren are sometimes eligible to receive auxiliary benefits as well. To qualify, they must be financially dependent on the disabled grandparent, have lived with the grandparent for 12 months, and both biological parents must either be disabled or deceased.

Filing a Claim for Auxiliary Benefits

Parents or grandparents who are disabled can either file for dependent’s benefits for their children/ grandchildren at the same time they file their own SSDI claim, or they can file a claim for their dependents at a later date. When requesting dependent benefits, the claimant must provide the child’s birth certificate and social security number to the SSA.

New Evidence Requirements for Disability Claims

A blackboard with Social Security words, SS Claims evidenceIn April of 2015 a new regulation took effect that now requires Social Security claimants and Social Security lawyers in Chicago to provide all evidence that could either support or detract from a social security disability claim. Additionally, the “rules of conduct and standards of responsibility” for legal representatives have also been modified by the rule.

Prior to the new regulation, claimants were only required to submit evidence that was related to the disability in question and supported the claim that the disability existed. New language in the regulation, however, now states that all evidence that relates to whether or not the claimant is blind or disabled must be submitted. In other words, claimants are now responsible for providing the SSA with any and all information or evidence that is known by them and is relevant to their disability, even when that information could lessen their chances of successfully obtaining disability benefits.

 

Additionally, before the change, social security disability lawyers and other representatives were only required to obtain evidence and other documentation that the claimant “wants to submit” to support the claim with reasonable promptness, and to then submit the documentation to the Social Security Administration “as soon as practicable”. Under the modified rule, however, the duty of the attorney or representative has changed to include the submission of all documentation required to be submitted by the claimant that pertain to the disability claim.

 

Since the Notice of Final Rule was published in March of 2015, Social Security lawyers in Chicago and throughout the nation have raised numerous concerns over the use of the word “relates” in the rule. In addition to stating that the term is too vague, commenters have stated that there may be privacy concerns due to over-disclosure as well. In response, however, the SSA has said that the term should be interpreted as showing or establishing a connection between two things.

 

Unfortunately, many disability claimants are inexperienced with the use of specific language used by the SSA, which could cause misunderstandings that result in required information not being submitted in a timely manner. Such mishap can be detrimental to aSocial Security disability claim, since the failure to disclose the required evidence and information could be grounds for a claim being denied. On the other hand, many individuals may feel pushed to disclose more information than is required, which simply adds unnecessary processing in a system that is already severely backlogged.

Choosing the Right Time to Submit Your Social Security Application

Closeup of a person filling a form, SSAWhen an individual suffers from a mental or physical disability that is expected to last more than one year, it is vital that he or she submits an application for social security disability benefits as soon as possible. Waiting too long to file for disability can have a significant impact on the outcome of a case. Postponing the application can result in negative effects including:

  • Reduced Back Payments: The claims process can take several months, or even years to complete. Unfortunately, when a claim is approved the Social Security Administration (SSA) will only pay retroactive benefits for up to 12 months prior to the date the claim was filed. If a claimant became disabled in January of 2014, for example, but waited to file until July of 2016, his or her back pay would only be paid from July of 2015 on, and the benefits from the onset of the disability to July 2015 would simply be lost.
  • Availability of Current Medical Information: In many situations, the diagnosis of a disabling condition is made when the disability symptoms are in their early stages and a series of tests are conducted. During this period, there is often a wealth of current medical documentation available. If a claimant waits too long to file for disability, the SSA might determine that the most pertinent information is outdated. This could result in the SSA requiring that the individual undergo additional testing that could have been avoided. In many cases, this testing is performed by medical providers who are hired by the SSA and unfamiliar with the patient’s medical history.
  • Loss of Income/ Benefits During the Process: While some claims process very quickly, a large number of cases take an extensive amount of time to achieve approval. During that time, claimants are often left with no income/ reduced income, and without medical insurance to pay for the treatment that they need.
  • Loss of Work Credits: To obtain social security disability benefits, individuals must typically have a specified number of work credits. Most work credits expire within five years from the date the individual stopped working. Waiting to file a claim for social security disability can result in lost work credits that can cause a reduction in the amount of benefits payable, or can even disqualify an individual from receiving benefits altogether.

70% of Initial Social Security Disability Claims are Denied: What Now?

attorney for social securityEvery year, millions of Americans apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies 70 percent of initial claims.

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