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Indianapolis, Lafayette & Franklin Social Security Disability Blog

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.

Considerations when appealing a denied SSD claim

The Social Security Disability application process has specific requirements that must be met or the claim will be denied on a technical basis. Similarly, an incomplete application will be denied. However, when an Indiana claimant is qualified to receive SSD benefits and properly applies, he or she is most anxious to receive an award letter from the Social Security Administration acknowledging a finding of disability, the amount to be received and when the monthly benefit will begin. However, for the majority of claimants, things are not that simple.

The manner in which a response from the SSA is received depends on where the claimant is in the SSD process. Specifically, disability experts indicate that if the claimant is filing an initial claim or is at the first level of appeal, called reconsideration, evaluations are rendered at the state disability office. At these levels, an examiner makes a decision based on the paperwork filed and sends the decision back to the claimant's local SSA office for processing. Unfortunately, more than half are typically denied initially, and the denial rate on reconsideration is even higher.

Many with medically determinable conditions are denied SSD

Many Indiana residents struggle for years with physical or mental conditions that not only impact their personal lives but also make working stressful, difficult or all but impossible. They may seek treatment and find that, indeed, medical professionals concur that they have a medically determinable condition. When the tedium becomes too much to endure or the condition worsens, an individual might for Social Security Disability only to have their claim denied. This seeming contradiction is very much routine procedure within the SSD system.

To be certain, a medical condition must be certifiable through medical records for the Social Security Administration to find a claimant disabled, and some well-defined, severe medical conditions almost always qualify as disabling. But the majority of claimants have symptoms of a condition or multiple conditions that don't fit so nicely into a specific category of textbook conditions. For those claimants, SSD experts indicate that the SSA looks more to the person's functional ability rather than the bare medical condition.

Back pain and disability benefits

Many people living in Indiana and around the country suffer from back pain. In some cases, this pain can become debilitating and make it difficult to perform daily tasks at work. When an individual can no longer earn a living, they may consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. However, they may wonder if it's even possible to get disability benefits due to back problems.

It can sometimes be difficult for a person to prove that back pain is debilitating to the point that they are no longer able to work at their current job and cannot be retrained for a different type of work. This is because people with documented back issues, such as osteoarthritis, have a wide range of functionality. As a result, it becomes difficult to determine disability simply based on a diagnosed medical condition.

Foot drop and SSD eligibility

Many people living in Indiana and around the country have a condition known as foot drop. This is a condition in which a person's gait is affected by a drooping forefoot. The cause of the condition is often neurological or may also involve partial paralysis of the leg. For many people, this condition can be debilitating and make it difficult to get around as well as perform routine job duties.

Individuals who have this condition may wonder if they can qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, or SSD. As with all disability claims, there are several factors to consider when determining eligibility. The Social Security Administration classifies foot drop and similar conditions according to the criteria it has set for spinal or lower extremity impairment. Individuals who apply for disability as a result of foot drop will need to present medical evidence in support of their case.

SSD and the five-month rule

When people living in Indiana become disabled and are unable to work, it is understandable that they might want to receive Social Security disability benefits as quickly as possible. However, regulations restrict how quickly one might qualify for benefits, something that applicants should consider when making financial plans during and after the application process.

When it comes to Social Security disability, there is a five-month waiting period during which a person is not entitled to receive benefits. This five-month period begins in the month following the date on which they became disabled. SSDexperts note that nobody is entitled to benefits during this five-month period of time, but an individual who was disabled for at least 17 months prior to filing for disability can receive the maximum of 12 months back disability compensation after being approved for benefits.

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