Does My Depression Qualify Me for SSD?

Does My Depression Qualify Me for SSD?

Does My Depression Qualify Me for SSD? 

The short answer to this question is “maybe.” The Social Security Administration (SSA) does recognize depression as a possible cause of disability.

Not everyone who has been diagnosed with depression is eligible for Social Security disability benefits (SSD). 

How Does the SSA Determine SSD Eligibility for Depression?

Depression falls under the Listing of Impairments in the Social Security Blue Book. The Blue Book lists specific criteria for each condition. To qualify for disability based on the listing, an SSD applicant must fulfill the requirements in paragraph A below AND the requirements in EITHER paragraph B or paragraph C: 

  1. Suffer from at least five of a longer list of depression symptoms, which include: 
  • Depressed mood
  • Diminished interest in nearly all activities
  • Appetite disturbance with weight change
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Psychomotor agitation or retardation
  • Decreased energy
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Difficulting concentrating or thinking
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  1. Show extreme limitation of one or marked limitation of two of the following: 
  • Ability to understand, remember, and apply information
  • Ability to interact with others
  • Ability to concentrate, persist, or maintain pace
  • Ability to adapt or to manage oneself
  1. Show all of the following: 
  • A medically documented history of the condition existing for at least two years
  • Ongoing medical care, therapy, and/or a structured environment that reduces symptoms
  • Minimal capacity to adapt to changes in environment

What If You Don’t Meet The Blue Book Criteria?

If you don’t meet the Listing requirements above, don’t give up. People who don’t meet a Listing can still qualify for SSD if they can so that they are medically unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). This is a more complex assessment in which the SSA looks at what types of work you have done in the past, your educational level, and your age to determine whether you are capable of earning a living despite your disability. 

Why Disability Help Group

Get Help with Your Social Security Disability Claim

Demonstrating that you are disabled by a mental health condition can be more difficult than securing benefits for some physical disabilities. That’s because an X-ray or more sophisticated scan will show exactly how deteriorated your spine is, but there’s no objective test to prove that you’ve lost energy or are feeling anxious. 

Whether you’re just applying for SSD for depression or you have been denied and want to appeal, your best next step is to talk to an experienced disability benefits advocate. At Disability Help Group, our advocates know the type of documentation required to establish a claim and how best to prove the severity of your disabling condition. 
To learn more about how we can help, call us at (800) 800-3332, or contact us here.

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Get Help Filing for Disability for Anxiety

Get Help Filing for Disability for Anxiety

Get Help Filing for Disability for Anxiety

Applying for–and perhaps fighting for–Social Security disability benefits is challenging for most people. If you’re struggling with a condition like anxiety, it can be even tougher. Having the right assistance can help ensure that you’ve put together the strongest application possible. It can also significantly reduce the stress associated with the process. Here’s what you need to know about getting the help you need. 

What is Anxiety? 

Most of us experience anxiousness at times. That’s different from having an anxiety disorder. A condition like generalized anxiety disorder can have a significant impact on your daily life, including the ability to earn a living. 

Some common symptoms include: 

  • Nervousness
  • A sense of impending doom
  • Hyperventilating
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Stomach problems

Does the Social Security Administration (SSA) Recognize This Disorder As A Disability?

This disorder is included in the Social Security Blue Book–a listing of conditions and related symptoms and limitations that may qualify a person for SSD benefits. However, that doesn’t mean being diagnosed with this disorder automatically qualifies you for SSD. The Blue Book sets forth very specific criteria for a person with an anxiety disorder to qualify for disability benefits.

When you submit an application for SSD benefits for this disorder, it’s important that you provide documentation that supports a determination of disability.

That means understanding the Blue Book criteria and the other factors the SSA considers in assessing an SSD application. It also means ensuring that you have solid medical documentation. Since this disorder isn’t objectively measurable or determined by a test, it can be more difficult to establish a claim for this type of disability.

Get the Help You Need with your Claim

If you haven’t yet applied for SSD benefits, it’s in your best interest to consult an experienced disability benefits advocate right away. Your best chance at getting an approval on the first round and saving months or years is to submit the strongest possible application and documentation. 

The seasoned advocates at Disability Help Group know what the SSA is looking for and how to clearly and effectively present the relevant information. We know how important it is for you to have knowledgeable guidance, so we offer free case reviews. 

Already been denied? Don’t worry. The SSA offers a multi-step appeals process. But, deadlines are tight, so you’ll want to get help right away when you receive a denial.

Getting started is easy. Just call (800) 800-3332 right now, or contact us here now.

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Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disability in 2024

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disability in 2024

Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for Social Security Disability in 2024

If you’re currently receiving Social Security disability benefits (SSD), you may have noticed that your January benefits were a bit higher than they were last year. That’s because the Social Security Administration (SSA) makes a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to disability benefits. These increases have been notable over the past couple of years–with inflation high, the increase in SSD benefits was high, too. 

In 2023, Social Security disability benefits increased by 8.7%. Now, with the rate of inflation significantly lower, the cost-of-living adjustment is smaller. Still, SSD recipients will see an increase in 2024, and the SSA will assess again at the end of the year to determine the COLA for 2025. 

How Much Will Disability Benefits Increase in 2024? 

In 2024, the COLA increase is 3.2%.

Exactly what that means in terms of dollars depends on the amount of your regular monthly benefit. For example, the maximum monthly SSD benefit will increase from $3,627.00 to $3,822–just shy of $200/month. In January of 2023, the average disabled worker receiving SSD benefits got $1,483.11/month. In 2024, that increases to $1,530.57.

Who Else Benefits from the SSA COLA? 

According to the SSA, about 71 million Americans will see an increase in benefits in 2024. That includes retirees, SSD recipients, those receiving survivors’ benefits, and SSI recipients. The percentage increase is the same across the board. The Veterans Administration (VA) also relies on the SSA cost-of-living calculation to adjust benefits. That means those receiving VA disability benefits will see the same increase. 

Your SSD Cost-of-Living Increase is Automatic

You don’t have to do anything to receive increased benefits. Both the SSA and the VA make the adjustments automatically for the new year. Knowing what to expect in the coming year can help SSD recipients and those who receive other benefits tied to the SSA’s COLA plan for the year ahead. 

Get Help With Social Security Disability Today

If you aren’t yet receiving SSD benefits and believe you may be qualified, your best next step is to talk to an experienced disability benefits advocate. Whether you are just considering applying for Social Security disability benefits or have already been denied, Disability Help Group is here for you.

Our experienced advocates know what type of information and documentation the SSA is looking for, and can help you build the strongest application or appeal possible. 

To learn more, (800) 800-3332 right now, or contact us here NOW!

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What Does It Mean When My SSD Appeal Says “Under Review”?

What Does It Mean When My SSD Appeal Says “Under Review”?

What Does It Mean When My SSD Appeal Says “Under Review”?

If your Social Security disability (SSD) application was denied, you may receive an “appeal under review” letter or check the status of your appeal online and see “under review.”  Many SSD applicants who aren’t prepared for that possibility are anxious about what it means. Here’s what you need to know about this status. 

This Status Is Neutral

It’s common for people in the SSD appeals process to see “under review” as a bad sign. The truth is that learning that this is under review doesn’t tell you anything about the likely outcome. It simply means that some aspect of the tentative decision–whether approval or denial–is being reviewed. It’s best to try not to stress over what it means in your case and wait until you receive a decision on the matter

There are Multiple Levels To Appeals

It’s important to remember that even if your first or second Social Security disability appeal is denied, you still have options. The entire process includes as many of the following as are necessary:

  • Initial SSD application
  • Request for Reconsideration
  • ALJ Hearing
  • Request for Appeals Council review
  • Appeal to the federal district court

Each level of review offers opportunities that most SSD applicants don’t take full advantage of. For example, reconsideration is usually just a repeat of the original assessment of your application, but by a different person. Many SSD applicants don’t realize that they can submit additional information, such as updated medical records, with their request for reconsideration. 

While many variables go into a Social Security Administration (SSA) decision on these matters, one key factor is how thoroughly you have established your claim. That includes everything from ensuring that your application is complete and accurate to providing the right medical documentation and other supporting evidence. 

A Social Security Disability Benefits Advocate Can Help

At Disability Help Group, we know that the SSD application and appeals process can be daunting. We also know valid claims sometimes get denied simply because the applicant made an innocent mistake or didn’t understand what type of documentation was needed. We have been fighting for disabled workers and their families for years, and know what it takes to assemble the strongest application or appeal possible. 

When you work with an experienced advocate, you won’t have to worry when you receive a status letter or see an unexpected notation in your online account. Our advocates will explain the process to you every step of the way. Call us today at (800) 800-3332 or contact us here now!

SSD: Rules after 60

SSD: Rules after 60

SSD: Rules after 60

You’ve probably heard that it can be difficult to get Social Security disability benefits (SSD). Most SSD applications are denied in the first round, and it can take two years or more to get through the appeals process and secure benefits. What many people don’t know is that the chances of approval increase as you age. That’s especially true once you turn 60.

There are two ways to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The first is to demonstrate that you meet or equal one of the medical conditions listed in the Social Security Blue Book. Simply having a listed condition isn’t sufficient to qualify for SSD. You must meet specific criteria the Social Security Administration (SSA)  sets forth to ensure that your condition is truly disabling. The specific criteria are different depending on the condition.

If you don’t meet or equal a listed condition, you may still qualify for Social Security disability benefits if the  SSA determines that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. That begins with a look at your past relevant work. If the SSA determines that you can still do work you have done in the past, you will not be considered disabled. If you can’t do the work you did before, the next step is for the SSA to consider whether you can do other work. This is where being aged 60 or older helps.

At this point, the determination hinges on “grid rules.” The grid looks at a combination of the applicant’s age, educational level, and past work experience to determine disability. Those aged 60 and older are classified as “advanced age” and are considered disabled in some circumstances where a younger worker would not be. For example, an applicant in their 60s with a high school education and skilled or semi-skilled work history that is not directly transferable to a new job would be considered disabled. But, an applicant under the age of 50 with the same combination of education and experience would not.

Is It Worth Applying for Social Security Disability in Your 60s? 

If you are 60 or older, you may question whether it is worthwhile to apply for SSD when you are so close to being able to take early retirement benefits. The answer is yes. When you take early retirement benefits, the amount of your monthly benefit is reduced forever. However, if you qualify for SSD, you will receive your full retirement benefit amount. When you reach full retirement age, your benefits will switch to retirement benefits, but you will still receive the full monthly benefit.

Talk to a Disability Benefits Advocate Today

While the SSA makes it a little easier for older workers to qualify for SSD, success still depends on the quality of your application. Give yourself the best chance at approval by working with an experienced SSD benefits advocate from the start.

To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-2009 right now or contact us here now.

How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for SSD?

How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for SSD?

How Long Do I Have to Work to Qualify for SSD?

When most people think of qualifying for Social Security Disability (SSD), they think about proving that their medical condition is severe enough that they are unable to earn a living. That is a necessary part of the process. But, there are technical criteria that must be met before the Social Security Administration (SSA) even looks at your medical condition.

To qualify for SSD, a disabled worker must have sufficient work credits. For disability benefits, these credits are measured in two ways. The applicant must have a certain number of total work credits and a certain number of recent work credits. The number of each type of credit required varies depending on the applicant’s age.

What are Work Credits?

When you work and pay into Social Security, you collect work credits. The maximum number of credits you can earn in a year is four, regardless of how much money you make during that year. The amount of earnings it takes to constitute a credit changes over time. In 2023, you must earn $1,640 to earn one credit. 

Earning credits for the year tops out at $6,560/year, so most people who work full-time–or even steady part-time jobs–will accrue four credits in a year. If you earn less, you’ll get fewer credits.

How Many Work Credits Are Required for SSD? 

For most disabled workers, the minimum number of total work credits accrued to qualify for SSD benefits is 40. That’s the equivalent of 10 years of work. It’s also the same number of work credits required for Social Security retirement benefits. However, disability qualification has another element. Unless you are legally blind, you must also have a certain number of recent work credits. For most applicants, that number is 20 (the equivalent of five years of work) within the 10 years prior to applying.

Credit Requirements are Lower for Younger Workers

A worker who becomes disabled Earlier in adulthood hasn’t had as much time to receive work credits. So the number of work credits required is adjusted based on the applicant’s age. For instance, if the disabled worker is under the age of 24, they need just six work credits (1.5 years) of work in the prior three years. 

If your social security record indicates that you do not have enough work credits, review the record carefully. If there are jobs missing from your record or incorrect time periods, you can correct your record. 

Talk to an Experienced SSD Benefits Advocate

The rather complicated formula for work credits above is just one element of qualifying for Social Security disability benefits. Proving that your condition meets or equals a condition listed in the Blue Book, or that you are unable to work, can be much more complicated. Most Social Security disability initial applications are denied. To give yourselves the best chance of approval, work with a qualified disability benefits advocate who knows what the SSA is looking for. 

To learn more about how we can help, call (800) 800-2009 right now or contact us here.