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Columbia MO Social Security Disability Law Blog

Disability benefits may be able to help after an injury

Victims of catastrophic injuries, such as those suffered in car accidents, may suffer from long-term disability that may require medical treatment, care and rehabilitation. Catastrophic injuries that prevent the disabled individual from working can create a significant financial burden for the disabled individual and their family.

For a physical injury to qualify as a disability, according to Social Security disability requirements, the impairment caused by the injury must prevent the disabled individual from engaging in substantial gainful employment and must be expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death. In addition, the medical condition the disabled individual suffers from must be medically established. Injuries that may qualify for Social Security disability benefits can include severe neck or back injuries, head injuries, traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, neurological disorders, chronic pain and other disabling injuries and health concerns.

Understanding Supplemental Security Income

Supplemental Security Income or SSI is an alternate disability benefits option for those without the necessary work history to qualify for Social Security disability insurance benefits. SSI benefits are for disabled individuals who are unable to work because of a physical or mental disability and have limited income and resources.

Disabled individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income who have returned to work or are considering returning to work may wonder what impact working may have on their eligibility for benefits and receipt of their benefits. Social Security disability or SSD benefits provide a trial period during which the disabled individual may try returning to work to see if they are able to do so and may continue to receive benefits. SSI does not offer a similar trial period. For disabled individuals who do not receive any other income than SSI benefits and the income they earn from work, they may earn up to $1,555 per month before losing their benefits.

Understanding what to include in an appeal for disability

The importance of Social Security disability benefits cannot be overstated for many disabled individuals. A denial of benefits can threaten the ability of disabled residents in Missouri and elsewhere to attend to their everyday needs. Because of this, it is important to be aware that when Social Security disability or SSD benefits have been denied, an SSD appeals process is available.

The appeals process can include updating information that helps supplement the application for benefits. Medical records can be updated, which includes updated medical treatment, tests, doctors and hospitals. It is also useful to report any changes to medical conditions or changes to daily activities. Any changes to medications should also be reported. There is a 60-day window to appeal so it is important to act promptly when filing an appeal for a denial of SSD benefits.

Understanding the basics related to applying for disability

Social Security disability or SSD benefits may be available to disabled individuals who are so severely impaired they are unable to work and have paid into the program while working as adults. The SSD insurance program is designed to provide long-term financial protections for disabled individuals. There are a variety of common concerns associated with applying for SSD benefits, so it is helpful to be familiar with the realities of the process.

Although not all initial claims for Social Security disability benefits are approved, 33 percent during 2013 were approved. While many applications for disability are initially denied, the SSD claims process provides several levels of appeal when a claim for benefits has been denied. SSD benefits can help with daily needs of disabled individuals. During 2015, the average monthly disability payment was $1,165. For disabled individuals trying to return to work, a trial period is provided during which they will not lose their benefits and can attempt to return to the workforce.

Disability may also be available for mental health conditions

Similar to disability benefits for disabilities caused by a physical health condition, Social Security disability or SSD benefits may also be available for disabilities caused by a mental health condition. Additionally, Supplemental Security Income may also be available for disabled individuals who may not qualify for SSD benefits because they lack the necessary work history required to be eligible. When a mental disorder prevents the disabled individual from working, they may be able to claim SSD benefits.

SSD claims are generally based on a physical or mental medical condition that is so severe it prevents the disabled individual from working. Additional requirements, such as the requirement that the medical conditions is expected to last 12 months or longer or result in death, are also required to receive disability benefits. While mental health conditions may be more challenging to prove than physical health conditions causing disability, applicants should not give up for that reason.

The Social Security disability process in detail

Unfortunately, there are complex application processes associated with applying for either disability benefits or Supplement Security Income. Fortunately, the process of applying for Social Security disability or SSD benefits provides several levels of appeal when a disabled individual has been turned down for benefits. Understanding the process step-by-step can help it proceed more smoothly and can lead to a more successful outcome for applicants.

In general, to be eligible to receive SSD benefits, applicants must be unable to work because of a severe disability that is expected to last longer than 12 months or result in death. The application process begins with an initial application, which includes medical records concerning the physical or mental medical condition being claimed. Once submitted, the claim is reviewed and may be approved or denied for benefits. Most initial claims for SSD benefits are denied, so it is important for applicants not be be discouraged but rather become familiar with the appeals portion of the process.

Mandatory wait on SSD benefits when you're dying lacks compassion

Many might argue the point, but the government is not without heart. As we noted in a post just last month, it is possible to obtain an expedited determination of eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. If an applicant in Missouri has a diagnosis for any one of about 225 illnesses identified as obviously being disabling, they may be able to be approved for benefits in weeks, rather than the months or even years it normally takes.

Many different kinds of cancer are included on the list of diseases considered to be obviously disabling. On the face of it, that just seems sensible. If you are suffer from an advanced stage of nearly any form of cancer, you want to be focused on conquering the illness. The required treatments are expensive. Insurance might only go so far. You can't work, so being able to tap into any available financial resource is a way to maintain hope.

Understanding how to apply for disability with a mental condition

Social Security disability benefits can be important for individuals suffering with a disability that results from a mental health condition. As is true when a disabled individual is suffering from a physical health condition, disabled individuals who are unable to work because of their mental condition may also be able to obtain Social Security disability benefits to help them with their daily needs.

Because the Social Security disability application process can be challenging, especially for those suffering from a mental health disability, it is important for disabled individuals and those suffering from a mental health condition to be familiar with the process. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of mental impairments that are considered inherently disabling. In turn, it is presumed that sufferers are unable to perform substantial gainful activity.

Changes to disability applications may create challenges

Social Security disability claims are already challenging, however, new rules that recently went into effect may make it even more difficult to obtain these badly needed benefits. The new rules eliminate what is referred to as the treating-physician rule, which historically provided significant deference to a report from a physician that accompanied a claim for benefits. The rule required those reviewing SSD claims for benefits to give significant weight to the physician's report.

In addition to not providing additional weight to a report from a physician that is part of the application for benefits, the new rules will also not give added weight to disability determinations from other government agencies, such as the Department of Veteran's Affairs. The Social Security Administration reports that for the first time in close to 30 years, the number of disabled individuals receiving disability benefits has declined. The number of approved claims has also declined.

Several levels of appeals are available for denied disability

While it can be understandably troubling to have a claim for Social Security disability or SSD benefits denied, most claims are initially denied. It is important to keep in mind that an initial denial of benefits is not the end of the process. There are several levels of the appeals process when a SSD claim for benefits has been denied. The first level of the SSD appeals process is a request for reconsideration during which a new reviewer evaluates the claim anew.

If the claim remains denied following the reconsideration process, the applicant for SSD benefits can request an administrative hearing. Additional medical evidence may be needed and it is helpful to prepare for the hearing before the administrative law judge. If the appeal before an administrative law judge is denied, the next level of appeal is an appeal before the Social Security Appeals Council. If the appeal still is not granted, it is possible to appeal the claim to the federal appeals court.

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