Indianapolis, Lafayette & Franklin Social Security Disability Blog

A disabled vet may also be eligible for SSDI

Veterans and their Indiana families understand sacrifice, more so than most others who have not served. When the active tour of duty has ended, the hope is to return to civilian life and resume some level of normalcy as soon as possible. Unfortunately, that is all but impossible for disabled veterans. While nothing can replace that which the vet has lost, there may be some easing of the difficult circumstances ahead if the individual can qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance in addition to the veteran's benefits received.

The word "disability" is a term of art as it relates to both SSDI and the status of a veteran as disability experts can more fully explain. This means that "disability" has precise definitions for both government agencies that are different from each other and different from the plain English language definition. The first issue to consider is the disability level of the vet as determined by the Veterans Administration. A veteran is either 100% permanently and totally disabled or some lesser percentage of disabled.

How to obtain a medical vocational allowance

An Indiana resident who has a disability may be entitled to financial assistance from the government. The applicant may be approved if their condition is among a list of impairments considered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It's also possible to obtain benefits through what is known as a medical vocational allowance. Before granting a medical vocational allowance, an examiner will review the applicant's medical records and work history for the past 15 years.

The allowance will be granted if an examiner concludes that the applicant cannot do any job that they performed in the past 15 years. An examiner must also conclude that an individual cannot perform any other type of work based on their age and level of education. Applicants may ask for benefits on the basis of either a physical or mental impairment.

Medical records and the SSD benefits process

Medical records can be an important part of any Indiana resident's claim for Social Security Disability benefits. After all, to be approved for SSD benefits, people must show that they suffer from a disabling condition that prevents them from working in their last job or any other gainful employment. However, many people who both need and deserve disability benefits face challenges during the process. The vast majority of applicants receive a denial at the first stage of their application, even if they are later approved at a disability hearing or another level of the process.

One of the challenges people face in applying for Social Security Disability benefits may relate to the nature of medical records themselves. Most medical records are written in a way that emphasizes symptoms, diagnoses and treatments rather than functional limitations that interfere with employment. They may provide clear evidence that a person suffers from a particular disabling condition but little information on how that diagnosis reflects on their ability to engage in employment. For example, medical records may include test results, but they may not indicate how long a person could sit, stand or walk.

Autistic youths see challenges in transitioning to adulthood

Youths with autism often confront unique problems as they begin the transition into adulthood. It is a matter of learning new boundaries and whether the new people in their lives will accept their condition.

Financial assistance is also a concern, especially to the parents of an autistic child. However, help is at hand on all fronts.

Proposed disability benefits change raises concerns

Many people in Indiana have expressed concern about a proposal by the Trump administration that could change the application process for Social Security disability benefits. The process is already very rigorous, with the vast majority of applicants rejected in their initial applications. Many people who have become disabled and unable to work as a result must go through a lengthy appeal and hearing process before obtaining the benefits they need to support their living expenses.

However, the administration published a proposal that would add an additional category to the list of qualifications for Social Security disability benefits. It would also elevate the number and frequency of reviews of each person's disability benefits, which verify continuing eligibility to receive benefits. The Social Security Administration extended public comment on the proposals until Jan. 31, 2020, due to concern expressed by disability advocates. Currently, disability claimants who are receiving disability benefits are classified with their medical improvement chances as "not expected," "expected" or "possible." The proposal would add a fourth category, "likely." It is expected that people aged 50 to 65 with bad health and no income would be most frequently characterized this way.

Severe psoriatic arthritis could qualify for disability benefits

The Social Security Administration has designated monthly disability benefits for people with medical conditions that significantly impair their ability to work and earn income. People in Indiana suffering from psoriatic arthritis might qualify for government benefits if their symptoms have reached a certain level of severity. Disability examiners evaluating an application for benefits look closely at all medical records and vocational assessments to determine someone's eligibility for Social Security Disability benefits.

The extent of inflammation and loss of gross or fine motor movement varies among people with psoriatic arthritis. The disease typically attacks major joints. Pain and swelling can become bad enough to limit a person's ability to walk or use hands. The SSA views this disease as an immune system impairment. An application for benefits might also list symptoms under the classifications of major dysfunction of a joint or disorders of the spine.

Learn more about SSD claims

Indiana residents who are filing a claim for Social Security Disability benefits may wonder how the process takes place. The application will be taken by a Social Security claims representative if a person files an application by phone or in person at a local Social Security office. This representative is responsible for taking information regarding a person's disabling condition, the medical treatment they have received and their work history. Their job is not to process a person's disability determination but to get it ready for a medical determination.

Each state has an agency that is known as the Bureau of Disability Determination, Disability Determination Division or Disability Determination Services. No matter what it is called locally, the Social Security Administration uses this agency to make medical decisions on claims. Each claim that is received is assigned to a disability examiner. These individuals work in a similar way to insurance claims managers. They have received training that allows them to interpret vocational data and medical records.

SSD benefits can prove elusive for many

Many Indiana residents struggle with debilitating physical or mental conditions yet wish to and continue to work. If the situation deteriorates further and working every day is no longer possible, they may apply for Social Security disability. Unfortunately, the reality for most first-time SSD applicants is a denial of benefits, which comes with the implicit finding that they are still deemed capable of working. Although it's common to accept an initial denial, there are various methods of appeal that hold promise for some who persevere to prove their disability to the Social Security Administration.

A threshold consideration in an SSD determination is whether the claimant has worked sufficiently in jobs under which Social Security taxes were withheld. If not, SSD cannot be awarded under any circumstances. However, disability commentators indicate that most claimants are eligible for benefits, but they do not match the definition of 'disabled" as determined by SSA disability examiners. A claimant does have an opportunity to appeal if the proper procedure is followed in a timely manner.

What are 3 ways you can lose Social Security disability benefits?

Not everyone across Indiana has an easy time obtaining Social Security Disability Insurance from the U.S. Social Security Administration, so if you were able to successfully do so, you probably want to do everything in your power to retain them. There are, however, several circumstances that may lead the administration to deem you ineligible to continue receiving benefits, which could potentially leave you facing serious financial hardship.

Recognizing the specific situations that could potentially make you ineligible for disability benefits may help you learn to avoid them, so note that the following three circumstances may jeopardize your disability benefits eligibility:

An overview of SGA

Indiana residents and others who are applying for disability benefits must be able to show that they have a significant physical or mental impairment. This impairment must make it impossible for an applicant to engage in substantial gainful activity, or SGA. Generally speaking, a person meets the SGA threshold by making at least $1,220 per month as of 2019. Those who are able to make more than that amount each month will have their applications denied.

In many cases, those applications will never be reviewed by a disability examiner. Instead, they will be given a technical denial, and that typically means that an individual is better off not applying at all. At a minimum, an applicant should wait until their income falls below that level before requesting benefits. Furthermore, if an individual's income eventually rises above the SGA threshold, he or she may no longer be entitled to benefits.

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