SS Disability Law

Social Security Disability Eligibility

  • Title II
    • Insured – paid into program while working – worked and contributed in five of the last ten years
    • Must become disabled within five years of last employment
    • Benefits to dependents
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – Title 19
    • Welfare disability program
    • Must have assets less than $2,000.00 – cash or anything that can be turned into cash.

Determining Disability

  • Inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity.
    • Substantial gainful activity = earning $1,040.00 a month for 2013.
  • Based on any medically determinable physical or mental impairment.
  • Expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

Sequential Evaluation Process

  • Step one– working.
    • If the claimant is working and earning enough to be considered substantial gainful activity – the claimant cannot be found disabled.
  • Step two– the impairment must be severe.
    • Claimant must have an impairment that significantly limits their ability to do basic work activities.
  • Step three– the listing of impairments.
    • In order to be found disabled at step three, a claimant’s medical signs, findings and symptoms must meet or equal one of the set of medical signs, findings and symptoms found in the Listing of Impairments.
    • The Listing of Impairments is a set of medical criteria for disability found in the social security disability regulations.
    • If a claimant meets or equals the Listing, they are found disabled and there is no inquiry into their ability to do past work or other work.
  • Step four– Past relevant work.
    • To be found disabled, it must be proven that the claimant is incapable of doing any work that he or she has performed in the last 15 years.
  • Step five– Other work.
    • To be found disabled, the claimant must prove an inability to do other work that exists in significant numbers in the economy.
    • Determination based on claimant’s remaining work capacity, age, education and work experience.
    • The Medical-Vocational Guidelines (grids) helpful in making this determination.
    • The Medical-Vocational Guidelines provide that the older a claimant is, the easier it is to be found disabled.

The Social Security Disability Process

Five Steps

  • Initial Application – In person, phone, internet, mail.
    • If denied – APPEAL
  • Reconsideration
    • If denied – APPEAL
  • Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge
  • Appeals Council
  • Federal Court Review
  • How to prove disability to ALJ
  • All about limitations
  • Specific Medical reports
  • Vague reports are not helpful
  • Fit claimant into definition of disability for age group
  • Easier standards as you get older
    • Under 50 – Limited to less than sedentary
    • 50 – 54 – Limited to sedentary
    • 55 – 59 – Limited to light
    • 60 – 64 – Limited to medium

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