Bipolar Disorder and SSDI Benefits

What are the requirements for receiving SSDI benefits if I have bipolar disorder?

It is believed that approximately 5.7 million people across the nation suffer from bipolar disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.  Bipolar disorder is a serious mental disorder characterized by extreme changes in mood, energy, thoughts, and behavior.  Bipolar disorder is also commonly referred to as manic depression, due to the sufferer’s ability to alternate between mania or highs and depression or lows.  

Bipolar disorder can make it challenging for those who suffer from it to perform work and daily living tasks.  Swings in behavior can lead to employees frequently calling off work when depressed or struggling to control their actions when in a manic state.  For some people with severe bipolar disorder that is not well controlled through medication, it may be a possibility to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.  

Bipolar Disorder in the Blue Book

The symptoms and severity of bipolar disorder vary greatly among individuals.  Bipolar disorder will typically manifest sometime between childhood and adulthood.  It is usually diagnosed following a patient, parent, or loved one’s reported behavioral abnormalities.  At times, bipolar disorder can lead to psychosis.  For someone diagnosed with bipolar to receive SSDI benefits, their condition must be constant and impair their ability to function in the workplace.  

The Social Security Administration includes bipolar disorder among its Listing of Impairments.  Per the Listing, the SSA requires that a claimant with bipolar disorder have a history of symptomatic depressive episodes, manic episodes, or a combination of both.  Once this is met, the claimant must demonstrate two of the following:

  • A severe limitation in daily activity;
  • Recurring episodes of lasting decompensation; or 
  • The inability to interact with others in a normal manner.

Those who do not meet these criteria could still qualify under the broader category of chronic affective disorders, of which bipolar is included.  Criteria under this category include at least two years of a documented chronic affective disorder and limitations or prolonged decompensations, despite medication. 

Applying for SSDI benefits can be complex and many claimants are initially denied.  For assistance with preparing your SSDI claim or appealing the denial of your action, contact our experienced Michigan social security disability attorney today for an initial consultation. 

Can I Collect SSDI and Widows’ Benefits?

Usually, you cannot collect the full amount of both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and widow’s benefits, because SSDI benefits are a form of an early retirement program. You could collect the higher amount of the two programs as long as you meet the eligibility requirements. A Michigan SSDI attorney can guide you through the process of applying for benefits and handle your appeals if your claim gets denied or you receive less money than you deserve.

What Happens if You Already Receive SSDI Benefits Before You Become a Widow

Let’s say that you already collect SSDI benefits because you are too disabled to work, and you meet the other elements of eligibility. When your spouse dies, you could start getting a monthly survivor benefit as a widow. The amount you receive will be equal to the higher of the two benefits. 

If your SSDI check is higher than your monthly survivor benefit, you will simply continue to get your SSDI check. If your survivor benefit, also called widows benefit, is more than your SSDI check, then the Social Security Administration (SSA) will continue to send you your SSDI check plus and an excess survivor benefit. The amount of the excess survivor benefit is the difference between your SSDI check and your widow’s benefit. The total of the excess survivor benefit and your SSDI check cannot exceed the amount of the widow’s benefit in this situation.

By way of example, let’s look at what happens when a person who receives $1,200 a month in SSDI benefits becomes a widow with a survivor benefit of $1,800 a month. The individual would continue to receive the $1,200 a month SSDI check, plus a check for $600 a month as an excess survivor benefit.

If the person collected $1,750 a month in SSDI benefits before the spouse died and the survivor benefit was $850 a month, the surviving spouse would get the higher amount, $1,750. The SSA will not add the two amounts. The SSA will only send you the higher amount.

What Happens if You Become a Widow Before You Become Disabled

Regardless of the order in which the two events occur, you cannot get more than the higher of the two types of benefits. If you already collect widow’s benefits when you later become disabled, the SSA will determine the amount of disability benefits you could receive for your disability. The SSA will then pay you up to the higher amount of benefits, either the SSDI or the widow’s benefits. 

Eligibility for SSDI or Widow’s Benefits

To qualify for SSDI, you must meet these requirements:

  • Have a severe illness or injury that causes you to be unable to work enough to support yourself,
  • Not earn more money than the earnings cap for SSDI,
  • Your doctor expects your impairment to last at least a year or to be terminal,
  • You have worked long enough at jobs that paid into the Social Security system through Social Security taxes that your employer took out of your paycheck.

To qualify for survivor’s/widow’s benefits, you must have been married to someone who paid into the Social Security retirement program through his employment. Some people can qualify for widow’s benefits after divorcing the person who later died.

When you reach your full retirement age, your disability benefit will automatically convert to what the SSA will call your retirement benefit. A Michigan SSDI attorney can evaluate your situation and advocate for you. Contact us today.

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits

Applying for social security disability insurance benefits can be a strenuous and taxing journey that is too difficult to navigate alone. For many hardworking Americans, applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits is truly the last resort when they accept the fact they can longer function or perform their job duties as they used to. Working your entire life and finally losing a stable source of income can be an emotional and stressful journey on its own. Burdened with doctor appointments, office visits and medical treatments, many claimants are overwhelmed and intimidated with the idea of even how and when to begin the application process. Unfortunately, a majority have a great deal of uncertainty and assume that they are not eligible for SSD benefits.

All too often, SSD applications are denied at the initial and reconsideration level. On average, 64% of initial Social Security Disability applications are denied by the Social Security Administration (Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2018). Feeling frustrated, discouraged, and defeated, many individuals do not even consider the avenues in appealing this decision, or know that they can hire help. Already completing the tedious application has taken enough time and energy, so all too many simply surrender their fight for benefits which could mean losing out on years of past due benefits.

However, when you are already balancing finances, medical bills, and debilitating symptoms, hiring an attorney can not only alleviate a great deal of stress and uncertainty, but increase your chances of being approved. Having legal experts in the field of social security disability can reduce unnecessary frustration and headaches that can arise throughout this process. Most people are not aware that legal representation fees are all regulated, and must be approved, by the Social Security Administration, under federal law, which limits fees to 25% of back pay or $6,000 depending on the amount awarded and appeal stage. This means that SSD attorneys and representatives only get paid if they help the claimant win their disability case.

Entrusting the assistance of experienced SSD attorneys means can mean that they will help you from the start and through any appeals that may be necessary. SSD attorneys can help you fill out your initial disability application, avoid costly errors, request all medical evidence to help prove your claim, and handle the reconsideration and appeal process if needed while ensuring you meet all appropriate deadlines.  Another advantage is that your SSD attorney will directly deal with the Social Security Administration and handle all correspondences related to your claim. Additionally, a SSD attorney can work with your doctors to draft letters in support that specify your symptoms and work-related limitations to help prove your disability. An attorney can also guide you to any additional benefits you may qualify for while you are waiting for your SSD approval. If the case requires an Administrative Law Judge Hearing, your attorney is able to represent you and present any additional evidence that is needed, draft briefs, and make legal arguments in defense of your claim.

At Disability Law Group, our experienced and compassionate attorneys have years of experience strictly specializing in disability claims. Our attorneys can help ensure that you meet all requirements under the law with the best approach in presenting your case to be approved as quickly as possible. At Disability Law Group, we can help from the very start and through any appeals that may be needed. Our consultations are always free and disability is all we do. Let our dedicated disability team take the worry and paperwork off of your shoulders, and help you win your SSD case.

Source

  • Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2018https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.html

What Should I Do If the SSA Cuts Off My Disability Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) is not supposed to terminate Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits arbitrarily or without giving you notice or an opportunity to challenge the adverse decision. You have very little time to take action and continue getting benefits.

If you find yourself asking, “What should I do if the SSA cuts off my disability benefits?” the answer is, do not delay. A Michigan SSDI attorney can advocate for you and fight to get your benefits restored.

The Notification Letter from the SSA

The Social Security Administration (SSA) periodically reviews the files of people who receive SSDI or SSI benefits to verify that the individuals are still eligible. If the SSA determines at the periodic review that you no longer qualify for benefits, they will send you a notification letter about this decision. 

Appealing the Adverse Decision

How quickly you file an appeal will determine whether you continue getting disability benefits during the appeal. If your appeal gets filed within 10 days of when you got the letter from the SSA, they will keep paying your benefits for the many months that your appeal makes its way through the system. After the tenth day, you can still file an appeal within 60 days of when you received the letter, but they will suspend your benefits until your appeal is over.

Reasons the SSA Cuts Off Disability Benefits

Typically, the SSA terminates disability benefits when they decide that the individual has experienced medical improvement that affects the person’s ability to work and the individual is capable of earning at least $1,310 a month if non-blind or $2,190 a month if statutorily blind. These numbers are the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) benchmark for 2021 and can change yearly.

Specific events that can trigger a termination of disability benefits include:

  • Medical improvement. Most people have a Continuing Disability Review (CDR) approximately every three years. There are some exceptions, such as being over 50 years old or having a condition that is unlikely to improve, in which case the CDR might only occur once every seven years.
  • Earning more than the SGA limit. Even if you don’t get paid, the SSA could consider work that you do as substantial – for example, performing significant volunteer work or helping family members, like babysitting your grandchildren. Please note that a “return to work” plan, like a Ticket to Work or Plan to Self Support (PASS), does not disqualify a person from benefits.
  • Incarceration stops disability benefits temporarily or permanently. Since the government provides room and board for people in prison, the government will not send disability benefits, which are supposed to help pay for a person’s basic living expenses.
  • Fraud. SSA can terminate a person’s disability benefits and pursue criminal charges if they become convinced that an individual did not tell the truth about things like their income, Social Security number, or medical condition. 
  • Retirement. Technically, reaching full retirement age means that disability benefits stop, but the individual will still get a monthly check from the government. The disability benefits automatically convert from disability benefits to Social Security retirement benefits. Usually, the amount of the monthly check does not change.
  • Increased assets, income, family income, or resources. These issues primarily affect people who receive SSI benefits. The SSA will consider some of the assets and income of your spouse and specific relatives when evaluating your initial and continuing eligibility for benefits. Also, if you qualify for some other type of assistance, like a pension, that resource could make you ineligible for disability benefits.

If the SSA notifies you that they will terminate your SSDI or SSI benefits, you should talk to a Michigan SSDI attorney right away to protect your right to this assistance. Get in touch with our office today.

5 Things You Should Know About Compassionate Allowance

Filing for Social Security Disability benefits under SSDI or SSI can be a very lengthy process. It could take six or more months to receive a determination on your disability application. However, the Social Security Administration (SSA) expedites some applications under the Compassionate Allowance program.

Serious medical conditions may qualify for expedited review of an SSDI or SSI application. If you have questions about the process, a Michigan SSDI attorney can review your case and advise you on expedited review options.

What Is the Compassionate Allowance Program?

Individuals with severe medical conditions or terminal diseases could die before the SSA completes the disability application review. Some individuals may not be able to wait for months to receive benefits because of the severity of their disease or medical condition.

Under the Compassionate Allowance program, the SSA expedites the review of the application. They perform a partial review to approve benefits very quickly. The SSA completes the approval process after the applicant begins receiving disability benefits. 

Five Things You Need to Know About the Compassionate Allowance Program

Before you begin your Social Security disability application, there are several things you should know about the Compassionate Allowance program.

1. Only Specific Conditions Quality for the Compassionate Allowance Program

The SSA has a Compassionate Allowances List (CAL) that contains more than 200 medical conditions. These conditions are considered severe enough to qualify for an expedited review process. The conditions on the list have been evaluated based on their effect on life expectancy, lack of treatment options, or overall severity.

2. The Expedited Process Does Not Apply for Medicare

Even though you can expedite your Social Security disability application, you cannot expedite the process to receive Medicare. All normal waiting periods continue to apply. Some applicants may qualify for Medicaid benefits.

3. Compassionate Allowance Applicants Could Receive Benefits in a Few Weeks

If you are approved for SSDI or SSI benefits under the Compassionate Allowance program, you could receive benefits in just a few weeks after filing your application. The initial payment includes benefits from the time of the onset of your disability through the date the SSA approves you for disability benefits.

4. There Is Not a Special Procedure for Filing for Compassionate Allowance Disability Benefits

You do not need to file a special application to be considered for compassionate allowance benefits. If your medical condition appears on the Compassionate Allowance List, the SSA flags your application for expedited review. 

However, your application needs to be complete and free from errors. You also need to submit comprehensive supporting documents for your application to be processed quickly.

5. Non-Medical Eligibility Criteria Still Apply

Even though the SSA expedites your disability application, you must still meet the non-medical eligibility requirements for disability benefits. For example, if you apply for SSDI, you must have the required work credits to qualify for SSDI. You must also meet the income and asset qualifications for SSI benefits. 

Contact Our Michigan SSDI Attorney for More Information 

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be overwhelming, especially when you have a severe disability. Our Michigan SSDI attorney assists individuals and family members as they seek to obtain expedited disability benefits. Get in touch with our office today.

When Are Children Eligible for SSI Benefits?

A child can be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in Michigan when he or she meets the disabling medical condition as well as the relevant financial tests of the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, the SSA has strict rules about income and assets, which means many applicants get denied on their initial request for SSI benefits even if they do have a qualifying medical condition(s). If you are applying for SSI benefits for your child, a Michigan SSI benefits attorney can help you go after the benefits your child deserves.

SSI Requirements About Disability

Your child must have a medical condition or multiple conditions that combine to meet the SSA’s definition of disability for children. This definition has three components:

  1. Earnings. For SSI purposes, the SSA measures a person’s disability not by medical severity, but by how much money the individual makes. In the cases involving children, however, the individual whose income is counted would be the child’s parents or guardians. No matter how severe the child’s medical condition, if the parents earn more than the threshold (which for 2021 is around $1,310 a month gross income, or $2,190 a month if legally blind), the SSA will say that the child is not disabled and not eligible for SSI benefits. While these are the income limits for 2021, however, the numbers can change every year.
  2. Functional limitations. If your child has learned ways to function like other children of similar age despite their medical condition, they may not qualify for SSI based on their medical condition not being considered “severe” enough. The SSA takes a strict approach when evaluating a child’s functional limitations. The medical conditions must cause the child to have significant functional limitations that severely restrict the child’s activities.
  3. Length of the impairment. A child cannot get SSI benefits for a short-term medical condition. The child’s disability must have existed for at least 12 months, or the doctors expect the condition to last at least 12 months or be fatal.

Your child must meet all three of these elements for the SSA to consider the child as disabled for the purposes of receiving SSI benefits.

Additional Financial Requirements for SSI Benefits

The SSA will not pay SSI benefits if the parents’ income or resources exceed the limit. The SSA also explores the income and assets of everyone who lives in the same household as the child, and could deny the application based on the income or assets of those household members. If the child does not live at home, the income and resources rules can still apply to the household if the child comes home periodically and you exercise control over the child. 

While SSA does not treat every resource or asset as income, the parents’ countable income may still reduce the amount of the SSI benefit or preclude eligibility altogether. Earnings from work, money from friends and relatives, free food and shelter, and some other benefits programs can count as income for SSI eligibility.

The current resource limits are $2,000 for a child or adult individual and $3,000 total for a couple, but this could change with time. The SSA does not count all assets toward these limits. However, cash, bank accounts, investments, and many other things can also count toward the resource limit.

Exceptions to the Rules – Immediate Payments

It typically takes several months for Michigan’s agency that evaluates applications for SSI benefits to determine whether a child applicant qualifies for SSI payments. If your child has one of these conditions, however, the agency might start distributing benefits right away while they process the application:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Down syndrome
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Extremely low birth weight – less than 2 pounds, 10 ounces
  • Complete blindness
  • Complete deafness
  • Severe intellectual impairment in children over the age of 3
  • Symptomatic HIV infection

This is not an all-inclusive list, and any condition could potentially qualify a child for SSI. A Michigan SSI benefits attorney can let you know if your child’s condition qualifies for SSI, and possibly even immediate payments. A Michigan disability attorney can help you navigate the SSI application and appeal process from the start. Contact us today

Can I Receive Unemployment Benefits and Social Security Disability Benefits at the Same Time?

If you cannot work in Michigan due to a disability, you may be wondering if you can receive both unemployment benefits and social security disability benefits simultaneously. 

However, the eligibility requirements of unemployment benefits and SSDI compete against one another. As such, it’s important to consult with an experienced Michigan SSDI attorney as soon as possible to understand your rights and options.

Unemployment Benefits in Michigan

To be eligible for unemployment benefits in Michigan, an applicant must meet several requirements that mirror federal guidelines, for example:

  • The applicant must have been employed before applying for benefits
  • At the time of application, the applicant must be unemployed
  • Separation from employment must not be through the fault of the applicant

Of additional and critical importance is that the applicant must also be “able, available for, and actively seeking suitable full-time work.” This instruction is where the complication arises for those hoping to collect both unemployment and SSDI benefits. 

To better understand the conflict, let’s examine Social Security Disability Insurance guidelines.

Social Security Disability Benefits

Applicants filing for SSDI benefits must meet the requirements of a defined disability that prohibits them from being able to work at substantial gainful activity levels. 

The primary requirements when filing for SSDI in Michigan are:

  • The applicant is unable to work at substantial gainful activity level because of their medical condition or defined disability;
  • The applicant is unable to do the work they did before becoming disabled, as well as other work;
  • The disability is a long-term disability lasting or expected to last one year or more, is a permanent disability, or is a disability that is likely to result in death. 

If the applicant’s condition prevents them from doing the work they did before, but they can do other work, [they] may not have a qualifying disability. However, there are narrow exceptions to this rule, based primarily on age, and an experienced disability attorney can help you understand whether an exception applies in your case as well as evidence needed to support your claim.

The Conflict Between Michigan Unemployment Benefits and Michigan SSDI 

An SSDI applicant must affirm they have a disability preventing them from working. As such, this affirmation directly contradicts unemployment requirements demanding applicants are willing and able to work.  

While a person may legally apply for benefits with both agencies, they should be mindful that government agencies often share data. The inherent conflict of filing for both Michigan SSDI and unemployment benefits may bring into question the applicant’s credibility, resulting in a denial of benefits. 

Nevertheless, when a person applies for both and is approved for both, they must inform Michigan’s Unemployment Department and SSA. There is a possibility that unemployment benefits may be reduced, or they may be forced to repay some or all of the benefits received.

How Can a Michigan SSDI Lawyer Help?

If you’re thinking of applying for both unemployment and SSDI benefits in Michigan, it’s a good idea to speak with a Michigan SSDI attorney first. 

A qualified SSDI benefits attorney can advise you regarding the guidelines of Michigan unemployment benefits and Michigan SSDI, how to apply for the benefits you can qualify for, and what legal risks may be associated with applying for benefits from both agencies. 

Contact our Michigan law office today to speak with an experienced SSDI attorney about your situation. Our consultations are always free and disability is all we do.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Heart Conditions

Nearly half of all American adults suffer from cardiovascular disease, with heart disease being the leading cause of death among men and women nationwide.

Unfortunately, many individuals living with chronic heart conditions are unable to perform everyday activities or maintain employment. Those with debilitating heart conditions often suffer a lack of financial resources for necessary living expenses and much-needed medical care.  

Are you a Michigan resident disabled by a heart condition? Unable to work and earn an income? You may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits for your heart condition.   

Michigan SSDI attorneys explain the qualifications, guidelines, and process for winning SSDI  claims for disabling cardiovascular diseases. Our attorneys are not only award-winning experts in the field but renowned for their compassionate and zealous representation. 

What Are Qualifying Heart Conditions for Michigan Social Security Disability Benefits?

In what is known as the SSA bluebook, the Social Security Administration has compiled a list of specific heart conditions qualifying for disability benefits. In addition to listing the conditions, the SSA details particular eligibility criteria that must be met to receive a claim award for heart-related illnesses. However, there are exceptions to being eligible for disability benefits, even if your heart condition does not arise to the severity level of one of SSA’s bluebook listings. 

Heart conditions that qualify for disability benefits under the SSA bluebook listing include:

  • Myocardial Infarction
  • Ischemic Heart Disease
  • Chronic Heart Failure
  • Arrhythmias

SSDI attorneys advise that while SSA lists several qualifying heart conditions, you are not restricted to those conditions alone. You may apply for SSDI for any heart condition providing it meets the characteristics of a disability. In other words, as long as your conditions renders you incapable of performing work you have done in the past 15 years, and other substantial work, then you could still be eligible for disability benefits. 

What Criteria Must a Heart Condition Meet for SSDI Benefits?

SSDI evaluates several factors when determining eligibility for benefits for heart conditions. Heart conditions listed in the SSA blue book are each accompanied by a detailed list of criteria that must be met to qualify for SSDI benefits:

  • medical diagnosis
  • imaging which shows heart abnormalities
  • stress tests and failures
  • treatment plans
  • related surgical procedures and hospitalizations
  • Resulting physical limitations and accommodations 

As mentioned, even if you do not meet the bluebook criteria, you may still qualify for SSDI. SSA will consider what your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) is including all of the related limitations your heart conditions, as well as any other impairments you may have, cause you to experience. 

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) details your condition and its effect on you. An experienced disability attorney in Michigan can help your case by drafting a cardiac impairment RFC form that your doctor, including your cardiologist, can complete. The form should detail the specific heart-related symptoms, diagnoses, treatment, and limitations you have. Once completed by your medical provider, the form can be submitted to SSA as supportive evidence in your case to consider, increasing your odds of approval.  

The eligibility criteria alone for heart conditions make navigating an SSDI benefits claim complex. Seeking counsel from a seasoned SSDI benefits attorney will help you avoid any missteps that might result in a delay or denial of your claim, and help position you in the best way possible to be approved from the start. 

Filing a Michigan SSDI Benefits Claim for Heart Conditions

If your ability to work is impaired due to a heart condition, medical records documenting your symptoms and the overall severity of your impairment will be helpful for a disability case. Further, RFC forms and letters from your doctor supporting your symptoms and limitations they cause you, can help your claim result in an approval from the start. 

Michigan SSDI benefits attorneys at Disability Law Group will work with you and your doctor to assess your ailment in the context of SSDI guidelines. If it is determined that you have a viable SSDI claim, our attorneys will assemble necessary support documentation and file a claim for benefits on your behalf so that you can focus on your health.

Your claim must be well prepared and substantiated with relevant medical reports and documented work limitations for the best chance of approval. If your claim is denied, your attorney will work with you to file an appeal. Relying on the skill and expertise of legal counsel familiar with the Social Security Benefits process is essential.

How a Michigan SSDI Benefits Attorney Can Help You

Navigating the complex rules and regulations of Social Security benefits for heart conditions is challenging. The last complication you need when struggling with reduced income or unemployment due to a health ailment is to go through the disability process alone. The monetary benefits and insurance that accompany a disability claim can be life-changing and you will want an experienced, compassionate team of attorneys on your side from the start. 

When you work with the SSDI legal team at our office, you can feel confident that we will put our expertise and resources to work for you. Contact our office today for a free comprehensive case review with an experienced Michigan SSDI benefits attorney.

Why Do I Need a Medical Expert in My SSD Case?

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you have to meet the Social Security Administration’s requirements for determining that you are sufficiently impaired by your illness or injury. This rule applies to disability applications, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. A medical expert can be useful in building your case for benefits.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) uses the Listing of Impairments – Adult Listings, also called the Blue Book, to evaluate the severity of your medical condition. The Blue Book contains highly technical criteria, including specific test results, the SSA uses to measure your level of impairment. A Michigan SSDI attorney can guide you through the application process and answer your questions, such as, “Why do I need a medical expert in my SSD case?

Evidence the SSA Requires to Process SSD Benefits Applications

You have to prove to the SSA that you have a significant medical condition and that the illness or injury is severe enough to impair your ability to function. The SSA requires credible medical evidence in order to establish or prove both of these factors. 

First, you have to submit or allow the SSA to access copies of your medical records, also called “objective medical evidence” from an “acceptable medical source” to prove that you have the medical condition. Once you convince SSA that you have a significant medical condition that they consider potentially disabling, you then have to show that your illness or injury is severe enough to interfere with your ability to work and support yourself.

Usually, the medical evidence comes from the records of medical professionals like doctors, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare providers and facilities. These records are kept to track your medical visits, and include important factors that will be considered in your disability claim, such as symptoms, diagnoses, exam findings, test results and more. When evaluating the extent of your impairment, SSA will also review other statements from non-medical sources, like your testimony, your friends and family members, people from your place of employment, neighbors, caregivers, and public or private social welfare agency personnel, for example. These medical and non-medical statements and evidence may be viewed favorably, or unfavorably, in your case, depending on what information is contained and other factors as well, such as consistency and supportability with other reports and findings. 

How a Medical Expert Can Help in Your SSD Claim

A medical expert can provide testimony SSA needs to determine the existence and severity of your medical condition. The Blue Book contains minimum thresholds for hundreds of specific medical conditions. SSA also allows people to apply for SSD benefits if they have an impairment from an injury or illness not contained in the Blue Book. 

In that situation, SSA must find that the medical condition(s) is as severe and disabling as some other condition in the Blue Book. These applications are an uphill battle, so a medical expert can help in the process by providing expert testimony to build your case for SSD benefits. Even in cases that fall neatly into a disease contained in the Blue Book, the SSA denies the vast majority of applications for SSDI or SSI benefits on the initial filing.

Most cases have to go through at least one level of the appeals process before the disabled person gets awarded SSDI or SSI benefits. A Michigan SSDI attorney can help you prepare your disability benefits application to reduce the likelihood of a denial of benefits. An experienced disability firm in Michigan, like Disability Law Group, can help you navigate the complex disability process and help obtain all supportive evidence – from medical and non-medical sources – to help increase your chances of being approved the first time around.  Contact our office today.

Can You Apply for Disability Benefits When You Lose Your Job?

Yes, it is true that you can apply for disability benefits when you lose your job. However, in order to be approved, you must meet all the eligibility requirements for the benefits programs. If you are able to work, the Social Security Administration (SSA) can deny your application for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Therefore, the first factor SSA considers in the disability evaluation process is whether you are able to sustain substantial gainful activity level employment, even if not full-time, which is considered a high burden for applicants to meet. 

The disability benefits process can be challenging. Most people have to go through at least one appeal to get the benefits they deserve. A Michigan SSDI attorney can guide you through this process and advocate for you.

How to Qualify for SSDI Benefits

Contrary to what many people think, having a severe illness or injury is not enough to collect SSDI benefits. SSDI is an insurance program that gets its funding from payroll deductions for Social Security. When your employer takes money out of your paycheck and sends it to the Social Security Administration (SSA), you pay into this system. Think of the payroll withholding as paying insurance premiums.

For every three-month block that you work at a job that pays Social Security taxes, you can earn one “work credit.” When you accumulate enough work credits, you can become eligible for SSDI. If you did not pay into the Social Security system, you cannot qualify for SSDI benefits.

Work credits are only one factor the SSA considers when evaluating SSDI applications. Some other elements needed for SSDI benefits include:

  • Your medical condition must last for at least one year or be terminal. If your doctor expects you to recover from your physical or mental illness or injury in less than a year, you are not eligible for SSDI benefits.
  • Your medical condition must meet the severity tests of the Adult Listing of Impairments, also called the Blue Book. The Blue Book contains technical “yardsticks,” such as specific lab test results, that measure how severe an illness is.
  • You must be unable to work for a living because of your medical condition. If you make more money than the earnings limit, the SSA will declare that you are not disabled.
  • The SSA does not pay benefits for partial disability. You must be 100 percent disabled to qualify for SSDI. This factor means that you cannot perform any type of substantial work to support yourself.

The technical work credits requirement is frequently the factor that makes people ineligible for SSDI benefits. However, fortunately for many people who do not meet the SSDI technical criteria, Congress has created a safety net for people in this situation: Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

The Eligibility Requirements for SSI Benefits

The disability severity rules are the same for both SSDI and SSI. Your severe medical condition must still meet the same requirements in order to be found disabled under both programs, including last for at least one year or be expected to last one year or result in death, and make you unable to support yourself through gainful employment, for example. 

The differences between SSDI and SSI are:

  • You do not need to have accumulated work credits to qualify for SSI.
  • SSDI has no assets limit, but you can only get SSI if you have very low financial resources.
  • In addition to the earnings limit for SSDI, all of your countable income reduces the amount of your SSI check. A person who has more than a few hundred dollars a month of countable income is unlikely to collect much in SSI benefits if anything.

The rules for these programs can be complicated. But, you should not allow the application and appeal complexities deter you from securing the benefits that you deserve. A Michigan SSDI attorney can help you go after disability benefits you are owed. At Disability Law Group, we are here to help you. Let our team of expert attorneys and caring staff put our years of experience exclusively specializing in disability claims help you win the benefits you need. Contact our office today.