According to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), in 2018, over $10 billion will be distributed among 11 million disabled workers and their dependents. This is in addition to the over $70 billion distributed to the nearly 50 million Americans receiving social security retirement benefits each year. It’s reported that over 90% of working-age Americans are protected by SSDI insurance, but only 30% of these workers carry private long-term disability insurance. All this to say, the number of Americans potentially eligible to receive social security disability insurance (“SSDI”) means the SSA must be careful to preserve resources. If it can find a reason to deny you SSDI, it will. This isn’t always personal, but it’s the unfortunate reality of the system.
Applying for SSDI benefits isn’t the same as applying for workers’ compensation or private disability benefits. SSDI disability standards are stringent, and you must suffer from a permanent, total disability in order to qualify. So the short answer to the above question is that you always need an SSDI attorney. Have your disability case analyzed by an experienced SSDI attorney at the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm. To schedule your free SSDI consultation, call us today at (949) 748-6470 or contact us online.
Prerequisites for SSDI Applicants
Prior to applying for SSDI, you must meet certain prerequisites. Ninety percent of working Americans typically qualify for SSDI themselves or as a dependent, but it’s important to have an SSDI attorney review the pre-qualification guidelines with you.
First, you must ask yourself whether you’re suffering from an injury or illness that prevents you from performing any work for which you’re qualified or can become qualified. This generally means a neurosurgeon wouldn’t be expected to deliver the paper, but she would be expected to teach a college course. This question, however, is theoretical. If you could potentially teach, it seldom matters that you can’t find a teaching job.
Provided you’ve clearly suffered from a disabling illness or injury, you still won’t qualify for SSDI if the following were true:
- You make more than $1,180 per month from work-related activities.
- You don’t have enough “work credits” within a certain period of time, which are calculated based on your age and eligible income. These calculations are complicated, so contact an SSDI attorney today.
- You haven’t paid into SSDI through the federal tax system. This is where working under the table can hurt you.
Certain additional exceptions and exclusions apply, but if you’ve been working legally for the majority of your adult life, then you’re probably eligible to apply for SSDI benefits. Eligibility does not mean approval, however. It just prevents automatic denial and allows you to submit medical and occupational documentation.
SSDI and Private Disability Benefits
Many injured workers may be receiving workers’ compensation benefits or benefits through private or ERISA long-term disability plans. This does not mean you can’t also claim SSDI. In fact, many private disability carriers require you to apply for SSDI if it will offset your private benefits. The catch is that you generally can’t receive more than 80% of your total pre-tax income from these sources. For example, if your workers’ compensation insurer pays you 80% of your lost wages after a work-related accident, you may be precluded from receiving SSDI benefits. A qualified SSDI attorney at the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm can review your income streams to help maximize your eligibility for benefits.
Your Career and SSDI
The standard for obtaining long-term disability benefits through SSDI is stringent. You are only considered disabled under the social security rules if all of the following are true:
- You cannot work in your normal occupation,
- You cannot “adjust” your work due to your disability, and
- You’ve been disabled for over a year, are expected to be disabled for at least a year, or the disability is terminal.
The second prong of the test, that you cannot “adjust” your work, is one of the primary reasons applicants are denied social security disability benefits. You must have a condition that actually prevents you from changing careers. The SSA will first look at your present occupation and jobs related thereto. For example, a doctor who can’t perform surgery can still teach; accordingly, she can still engage in her occupation. If it’s clear a traumatic brain injury prevents you from practicing medicine, the SSA will look at past occupations you’ve performed. For example, if you were a nurse before you went to medical school and can still provide nursing services, you won’t qualify for SSDI. Lastly, the SSA will see if there are any other careers for which you might qualify. It looks at the following factors:
- Past work experience,
- Age, and
- Transferable skills.
You won’t be expected to return to college at the age of 54, but you might be expected to learn a new career if you’re disabled at 28.
Common Qualifying Disabilities
The SSA understands that certain serious or terminal disabilities should automatically qualify claimants for benefits despite their occupation and education. These “compassion allowance” disabilities include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Serious cancers such as pancreatic cancer, certain leukemias, and blastomas,
- Early-Onset Alzheimer’s Disease,
- Trisomy 18 or 13,
- I Cell Disease,
- Mitral Valve and certain heart conditions,
- Pompe Disease,
- Severe immunodeficiency, and
- Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Many types of cancers, genetic disorders, and degenerative diseases automatically qualify you for SSDI benefits if you’re entitled to apply. If you have one of these conditions, contact us today and we can help expedite the SSDI application process.
You Need an SSDI Attorney on Your Side. Call the Kenneth G. Marks Law Firm Today
Whether you’re unsure if you qualify for SSDI, have a compassion allowance condition, or are otherwise disabled, an SSDI attorney is all but necessary to help you during this process. The SSA itself states that application standards are stringent, and it’s important to do things right the first time. To schedule your free SSDI consultation, call us today at (949) 748-6470 or contact us online.