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Tag: ssdi

Can I Get SSDI if I am 60 years old?

Can I Get SSDI if I am 60 years old? You can get disability benefits up until full retirement age.  Currently, full retirement age is 66 and 2 months.  Generally, winning a disability claim gets easier for people as they get older.  

SSDI vs. Early Retirement

You can file for early retirement benefits once you turn 62.  However, collecting early retirement rather than filing for SSDI has some drawbacks.  If you take early retirement, your benefit amount will be permanently reduced.  The amount Social Security reduces your benefit depends on the number of months you have until your reach full retirement age.  If you apply and get approved for SSDI, you will receive 100% of your monthly benefit.  That benefit continues when it switches over to Social Security when you reach full retirement age.

Filing for SSDI at 60 years old

SSDI benefits can be time consuming and challenging.  However, if you have the proper documentation to support your claim, you can win your claim.  SSDI requires that your medical conditions prevent you from working.  Additionally, you must be incapable of working for at least 12 months.  Luckily, Social Security can make it easier to receive SSDI when they are close to retirement age.

SSDI at 60:  medical evidence

Social Security has to figure out how your conditions interfere with your daily activities.  They do this by reviewing your medical records.  Therefore, you need to see your doctors regularly for your conditions.  Additionally, you should be in treatment with specialists.  Frequently, records kept by specialists document your symptoms and problems better than your general doctor.  Your doctors can also help your claim by completing a form explaining how your conditions impact your functioning, known as an RFC form. 

SSDI at 60:  grid rules

Social Security considers several factors to decide if a person qualifies for SSDI.  These factors include a person’s age, education, residual functional capacity (RFC) and their work history.  Your RFC includes what you can do despite your medical conditions.  Once Social Security figures out your RFC, they consider the grid rules.

SSDI at 60: applying the grid rules

Once Social Security figures out your RFC and you past work, they will look to the grid rules.  Basically, the grid rules allow Social Security to approve your SSDI claim even if you can do other work.  Social Security has separate charts for different physical categories.  Specifically, they include sedentary, light and medium physical categories. 

SSDI at 60:  Your past work

In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work.  The grid rules only apply if you can’t return to any of your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  Past relevant work includes work you’ve done within the past 15 years.  Additionally, it should have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.  Your past work gets classified under one of the physical categories. 

SSDI at 60:  your job skills

Social Security looks at the type of skills required to do your past work.  Social Security considers whether any skills you learned at your previous jobs could be used to do something else.  If you do, Social Security considers them “transferable skills”.  Generally, people who performed semi-skilled or skilled jobs will have developed skills they could use doing something else.  This can make it harder to apply the grid rules.  However, at age 60, there must be little to no additional training or adjustment.  Some jobs require such specialized skills, Social Security will decide that the worker doesn’t have transferable skills. 

SSDI at 60: your RFC

Your RFC can include both mental and physical limitations.  Social Security evaluates your ability to perform activities required for you to work.  You must show that your medical conditions interfere with your daily activities.  Social Security reviews your medical records to figure out your RFC. 

Example 1:  applying the grid rules at 60

Julia, a 61 year old woman applied for SSDI due to coronary artery disease and high blood pressure.  She also suffers from depression.  Julia previously worked as a cook.  Her job required her to lift and carry up to 50 pounds at times.  Social Security found that she could not perform her job as a cook.  She had no transferable skills.  Social Security awarded Julia disability benefits. 

Example 2:  applying the grid rules at 60

Frank, a 60 year old man applied for SSDI due to a right shoulder injury.  He previously worked as a janitor.  He also had past work as a construction worker.  Frank has difficulty lifting and carrying heavy items with his right arm.  In fact, he can’t pick up more than 15 pounds.  Social Security found that Frank could perform light work.  Frank has no transferable skills. Therefore, Social Security approved Frank’s SSDI claim. 

Disability Help Group:  SSDI at 60 case study

For example, Matthew applied for SSDI because he had arthritis in his knees.  He was 62 years old and worked as a fork-lift operator in a warehouse for many years.  Matthew had only visited his primary care doctor.  His doctor gave him a referral to physical therapy.  Unfortunately, Matthew as denied for SSDI.  He then contacted Disability Help Group for help with his appeal.  Our advocate suggested that he get x-rays and imaging of his knees.  She also suggested that he get a prescription for the cane he used.  Matthew followed his advocate’s advice.  On appeal, Matthew’s additional medical evidence helped show that he could not return to his job as a fork-lift operator.  Therefore, Social Security applied the grid rules and approved his case. 

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Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Are the GRIDS for SSDI?

What Are the GRIDS for SSDI? Social Security has special disability rules for people over the age 50.  Social Security uses a chart called the Medical-Vocational guidelines to evaluate your claim known as the “grid rules”.  The grid rules make it easier for older people to win their case.

SSDI GRIDS factors

Social Security understands that it may be harder for people over 50 to do new or different work.  First, Social Security considers whether your conditions meet specific requirements under their medical listings.  Often, these conditions can be very difficult to meet.  Next, Social Security considers the GRIDS.  The grid rules consider several factors.  These include:

  • Your age, education or work history
  • Skills from your past work
  • Your residual functional capacity (RFC)

SSDI GRIDS and your age

Generally, Social Security divides people into four age groups.  Typically, if you are 50 or older, Social Security can use the GRIDS to approve your case even if you can do other work.  The rules can be even more favorable for people over 55.  These age groups include:

  • Younger individuals:  ages 18-49
  • Closely approaching advanced age:  ages 50-54
  • Advanced age:  ages 55-59
  • Closely approaching retirement age:  ages 60 and older

SSDI GRIDS and your education

Social Security considers your education level.  Generally, the less education you have, the harder it would be to find other types of jobs.  Social Security used to consider a person’s ability to communicate in English.  However, a recent rule change removed this factor.  Education categories include:

  • Illiteracy – inability to read or write in any language
  • Marginal – completed 6th grade or less in any country
  • Limited – completed 7th through 11th grade in any country
  • High school education and above in any country

SSDI GRIDS and you work history

Social Security must categorize your past work before applying the GRIDS.  The GRIDS only apply if you can’t perform any of your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  This includes work performed in the last 15 years.  It must have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work.  Providing accurate information about your past work can be very important to your SSDI case. 

SSDI GRIDS and physical levels of work

Social Security divides types of work by their physical requirements.  For people 50 or older, the more physical your past work was, the easier it is for Social Security to apply the GRIDS.  The physical categories of work include:

  • Sedentary – sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and walking and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

SSDI GRIDS and job skills

Social Security looks at any skills required to perform your past work.  Sometimes, skills from your past work can be used to do different types of jobs.  Generally, these skills can be used in other jobs with little or no additional training.  Social Security refers to these skills as “transferable skills”.  If Social Security finds that you have transferable skills to other work, the GRIDS may be harder to apply. 

SSDI GRIDS and getting around transferable skills

However, there can be ways around transferable skills.  Typically, this can be done if you have a mental health impairment.  Mental health impairments include conditions such as depression or anxiety.  However, they can also include side effects from medications or the impact pain has on mental functioning.  When a person has medical evidence documenting mental health impairment, Social Security must evaluate their ability to perform the mental demands of work.  Usually, Social Security concludes a person can only perform simple, routine tasks when there is evidence of mental health impairment.  This limitation eliminates transferable skills. 

SSDI GRIDS and your RFC

Social Security defines residual functional capacity (RFC) as what you can do despite your limitations.  An RFC includes both physical and mental limitations.  Social Security determines your RFC based on your medical records.  They can also consider opinions from your treating doctors.  Social Security cannot determine your RFC from a diagnosis alone.  Therefore, you must see your doctors regularly.  You should see specialists if you can. 

Applying SSDI GRIDS

Once Social Security figures out your RFC and your work history, they will look at the GRIDS.  Social Security has separate GRIDS for sedentary, light and medium work.  For people over 50, the more physically limited you are and the more physically demanding your past work was, the more likely the GRIDS show you should be found disabled. 

Example 1:  SSDI GRIDS over 50

For example, Janet, a 52 year old woman previously worked as an office manager.  Janet completed high school.  She filed for SSDI because she was having worsening anxiety and osteoarthritis in her knees.  Janet has difficulty standing and walking for long periods.  Her doctors prescribed her a cane.  Despite medication and therapy, Janet has difficulty managing her anxiety symptoms.  Social Security found that Janet could not perform her past work.  They also found that she could not do any other light jobs.  She also was limited to simple and routine tasks.  Therefore, the GRIDS applied and Janet was approved for disability. 

Example 2:  SSDI GRIDS over 55

In another example, Jose filed for SSDI after injuring his back.  He is 57 years old and has a high school education.  Jose worked for many years as a dishwasher.  Since his injury, he has difficulty sitting and standing for long periods.  He can’t lift or carry more than 10 pounds.  Social Security found that he could do light work.  His job as a dishwasher doesn’t have any transferable skills.  Therefore, the GRIDS allowed social Security to approve Jose’s case. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a Disability?

How is Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a Disability? Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) may cause mental and physical exhaustion frequently over long periods of time.  Your fatigue may likely interfere with your daily activities.  Often, it can result in impaired cognitive functions.   If your chronic fatigue syndrome keeps you from working, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits (SSDI). 

Chronic fatigue syndrome and Social Security disability

Social Security disability considers chronic fatigue syndrome a significant impairment.  However, you must meet certain requirements to receive SSDI benefits.  Generally, Social Security requires any disabling condition interfere with your normal daily activities.  Additionally, your symptoms must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  For SSDI, you must have worked a certain amount of years recently. 

Social Security defines chronic fatigue syndrome

Social Security relies, in part, on the Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) definition to evaluate CFS.  The CDC defines chronic fatigue syndrome as persistent fatigue that has a definite date of onset.  There is no other mental or physical cause. Rest or sleep doesn’t improve the fatigue.  Lastly, the fatigue significantly interferes with work, school, social, or personal activities.  The diagnosis also requires at least four of the following symptoms for at least six months:

  • A general feeling of being unwell that lasts at least 24 hours following a period of exertion
  • Memory or concentration problems that cause a significant reduction in your activities
  • Frequent sore throats
  • Tender lymph nodes in the neck or under the arm
  • Muscle pain
  • Joint pain in different areas without swelling or redness
  • Headaches of a new type, pattern or severity
  • Waking up unrefreshed

How does Social Security evaluate chronic fatigue syndrome?

Social Security Ruling 14-1p provides certain requirements to evaluate chronic fatigue syndrome.  First, Social Security must establish your chronic fatigue syndrome as a “medically determinable impairment” (MDI).  Social Security makes a finding that a condition is an MDI when there is objective medical evidence including medical signs and/or laboratory findings. 

Establishing chronic fatigue as a medical determinable impairment

First, you must provide evidence from an acceptable medical source.  This includes a licensed physician such as a medical or osteopathic doctor.  Second, you must show that your doctor reviewed your medical history.  They must also perform a physical exam.  Sometimes, your doctor may make a diagnosis on reported symptoms.  However, Social Security requires medical signs and laboratory findings to support the diagnosis.  Additionally, there can’t be another medical condition causing the fatigue. 

What medical signs does Social Security require?

Social Security will look for specific medical signs that document your chronic fatigue syndrome.  These signs must be documented over at least 6 consecutive months.  The medical signs include:

  • Palpably swollen or tender lymph nodes
  • Nonexudative pharyngitis
  • Persistent muscle tenderness and/or positive tender points
  • Positive Epstein-Barr virus
  • Abnormal tests such as an MRI, exercise stress test and/or sleep studies
  • Other medical signs such as frequent viral infections, sinusitis, ataxia, extreme pallor and significant weight changes

How does Social Security determine if I am disabled due to my chronic fatigue syndrome?

Social Security evaluates any physical or mental limitations caused by your chronic fatigue syndrome.  This helps determine your residual functional capacity (RFC).  Your RFC is what you can do despite your medical conditions.  Your doctor can also fill out an RFC form.  They can explain specifically how your symptoms impact your functioning. 

Documenting your chronic fatigue symptoms

Your medical records should include all laboratory testing your doctors ordered.  Your doctor should note any other medical conditions considered and ruled out for a cause of your symptoms during each visit.  This should also include all positive objective findings.  Thus you doctor should note any tender points.  They should also document symptoms such as problems with memory, attention or concentration. 

Example 1:  documenting your chronic fatigue symptoms

Janet’s doctor diagnosed her with chronic fatigue syndrome.  Her doctor ordered blood work that showed positive Epstein-Barr virus.  He tested for other conditions but nothing explained her chronic fatigue.  Janet’s medical records consistently documented her tender points and muscle pain.  Her doctor also noted that she became very tired after doing even small tasks at home.  Social Security evaluated Janet’s records.  They determined that her chronic fatigue syndrome kept her from working.

Chronic fatigue syndrome and RFC forms

Your doctor can fill out an RFC form to help explain how your symptoms impact your daily activities.  Your doctor may note physical limitations.  As an illustration, your doctor may state that you can’t lift more than 10 pounds,have trouble standing and walking. You were limited to 2 hours in an 8 hour day.  Your doctor should also note any mental limitations, may state that you would have difficulty concentrating during a work day.  They may also note that you would frequently miss work.  Although these forms are well-supported by your medical records, they can help get your claim approved. 

Example 2:  how an RFC form can be helpful

Susan has been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.  Her medical records support her diagnosis.  Susan’s doctor completed an RFC form.  Specifically, She noted that Susan had difficulty sitting or standing for long periods.  She also could not lift or carry more than 10 pounds.  Additionally, Susan’s doctor reported that her symptoms would cause Susan to miss work frequently.  Social Security found that Susan was unable to work.  Consequently, they approved her claim. 

Disability Help Group winning case study

Justin’s doctor diagnosed him with chronic fatigue syndrome.  He could no longer work.  Justin needed to file for Social Security disability.  Justin contacted Disability Help Group.  Justin’s advocate helped explain what he needed to win his case.  Justin was able to speak with his doctors about properly documenting his signs and symptoms.  His doctors made sure to include all of his positive findings in each office visit note.  Social Security was able to fully evaluate Justin’s chronic fatigue syndrome.  As a result, Disability Help Group helped Justin win his disability benefits. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your SSDI and VA disability claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

How Do I Appeal my Social Security Denial?

How Do I Appeal my Social Security Denial? Social Security may deny your Social Security disability claim for several reasons.  Social Security could deny your claim for non-medical reasons.  They could also deny your claim for medical reasons.  However, you can only appeal a denial for medical reasons.

Non-medical denials

Social Security offers two types of disability benefits.  First, Social Security offers disability insurance benefits (SSDI).  To qualify for SSDI, you must have worked and earned enough work credits.  You cannot appeal a denial based on not having enough work credits.  Second, Social Security offers Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.  To qualify for SSI, you must meet certain financial requirements.  You cannot appeal a denial for SSI based on exceeding the financial requirements. 

How can I appeal a medical denial? 

You can file an appeal several ways.  First, you can appeal your denial online.  This can be the easiest way to appeal an unfavorable decision.  Second, you can file an appeal with your local Social Security office.  If you have a representative, they can help you file an appeal of your SSDI denial. 

When should I appeal my Social Security denial?

You have 60 days to appeal a Social Security denial from the date on the denial letter.  Social Security gives you an extra 5 days to allow you to receive your denial in the mail.  Therefore, you have a total of 65 days from the date on your denial to appeal your claim.  If you don’t file within the 65 days, you may have to re-file your claim.  Social Security allows you to file an appeal in more than 65 days if you have good cause for missing your deadline.

What is good cause for missing my appeal deadline?

Good cause can include several reasons.  Social Security considers:

  • What circumstances kept you from making the request on time;
  • Whether Social Security’s action misled you or you didn’t understand what you needed to do to appeal
  • Whether you had any physical, mental, education or language limitations that prevented you from appealing on time

Examples of good cause for missing your deadline

  • You were very sick when the appeal was due and couldn’t have contacted Social Security yourself or through someone else.  You would need proof that you were seriously ill.
  • There was a death or serious illness in your family
  • Records needed for your appeal were destroyed by an accident or fire.
  • You never received your denial notice
  • Some other type of unusual or unavoidable circumstances and you could not reasonably be expected to have met the deadline

Why was my Social Security claim denied?

Many people receive a denial for SSDI benefits the first time they apply. Understanding why Social Security denied your claim can help increase your chances on appeal.  Specifically, you will know what your claim was missing or where your claim can be improved.  Common reasons include:

  • Firstly, You are working
  • Secondly, Lack of medical evidence
  • Thirdly, Not following your doctor’s orders
  • Finally, Ignoring requests

Appealing a denial for working

Social Security considers disability as the inability to work for at least 12 months.   Not all work activity prevents you from filing for disability.  Social Security considers earnings over a certain amount “substantial gainful activity” or “SGA.”  If you earn over the SGA amount, you won’t qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  For 2021, Social Security considers $1310 SGA for non-blind individuals.  Additionally, you must be out of work for at least 12 months to qualify for Social Security benefits. 

Appealing a denial for lack of medical evidence

Frequently, Social Security denies claims because there was not enough medical proof to show your condition keeps you from working.  Important medical records might be missing from your claim.  On appeal, you need to tell Social Security about all the doctors you’ve seen since becoming unable to work.   You should see your doctors regularly so that you have documentation of your conditions and limitations.  Additionally, you should see specialists for your conditions.  Often, specialists keep better records about your symptoms and problems better than a general doctor.

Appealing a denial for not following your doctor’s orders

When you don’t follow your doctor’s recommendations, Social Security can decide that your limitations would be less serious than if you followed their orders.  This includes refusing or declining certain treatment.  For example, your doctor recommended physical therapy but you didn’t go.  Additionally, it includes taking your medications as prescribed.  It can also include certain lifestyle changes such as diet or exercise.  You should speak with your doctors directly about any difficulty you have following their recommendations.

Appealing a denial for ignoring Social Security’s requests

Social Security often asks for additional information when processing your claim.  Generally, this includes additional forms about your daily activities and work history.  However, it also includes medical examinations with a Social Security doctor.  Social Security may not be able to make a decision without this information.  Social Security denies your claim when you don’t respond to their requests. 

Why should I appeal my Social Security denial?

Appealing a denial improves your chances for approval.  In fact, most cases have the best chance for approval at the hearing level.  Re-filing a new application won’t increase your chances for getting approved.  Actually, it only delays the appeals process. 

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

How is Disability Amount Determined?

How is Disability Amount Determined? Social Security bases your disability insurance benefits (SSDI) on the amount of earnings that you paid taxes on.  Therefore, everyone’s amount is different.  

How are benefits calculated?

Earnings you paid taxes on are called “covered earnings.”  Social Security calls your average covered earnings Average Indexed Monthly Earnings (AIME).   Social Security uses your AIME to figure your Primary Insurance Amount (PIA).  Your PIA determines the amount you would receive from Social Security.  Make sure your Disability Amount Determined is correct.

Average Indexed Monthly Earnings

Social Security adjusts or indexes your lifetime earnings to account for the increase in wages that happened during the years you worked.  Social Security uses up to 35 working years in their calculation.  First, they take the years with the highest indexed earnings and add them together.  Next, they divide them by the total number of months for those years.  Then, Social Security rounds down to reach your AIME which will be used to determine your disability amount. 

Determining AIME for your disability amount

If you don’t have 35 years work history, Social Security calculates your AIME a little differently.  Firstly, they will count the number of years between the time you turned 21 and the year you became disabled.  Secondly, they subtract one-fifth of that total number of years or five years, whichever is less. 

Your Social Security earnings statement

You can also check your estimated benefit amount on your Social Security benefits statement.  Generally, checking your statement is the easiest way to find out your disability amount, which you can do by logging on to Social Security’s website at www.ssa.gov/mystatement.  You would need to set up an account before accessing your statement.  Additionally, you can request your statement from Social Security. You want to make sure your disability amount determined is accurate.

Other disability payments can reduce your disability amount

Social Security will reduce your disability payments if you receive other disability benefits.  For example, these would include worker’s compensation benefits.  They might also include temporary state disability benefits.  Generally, you can’t receive more than 80% of the average amount you earned before you became disabled.  Therefore, if both your Social Security disability benefits and other disability payments are more than 80%, Social Security reduces your disability payments. 

Other disability payments that do not reduce your disability amount

Private long-term disability insurance benefits won’t reduce your Social Security disability amount. VA or SSI benefits won’t reduce your SSDI benefits either. You want to make sure your disability amount determined is accurate.

Disability back pay

Under SSDI, you can receive benefits back to the application date.  However, you can also qualify to receive retroactive benefits.  Social Security pays retroactive benefits for the months between when you became disabled and when you applied for benefits.  Additionally, these benefits can go back one year before the application filing date. Therefore it will be involved in determining your disability amount.

SSDI back pay and the 5 month waiting period

Social Security does not pay back pay for the first five months after your disability began.  This will determine your disability amount. You start receiving benefits at the beginning of the sixth month.  Typically, the 5 month wait period can be much shorter than the time it takes for Social Security to approve your application. 

Cost of living adjustment (COLA) and your disability amount

Each year, Social Security benefits may be increased to adjust to the increasing cost of living.  Generally the Consumer Price Index (CPI) determines any COLA amounts increases each year.  Therefore it will be involved in determining your disability amount.

Determining your disability amount for SSI

Unlike SSDI, SSI is a needs based program and doesn’t depend on your work history.  Therefore, SSI has a maximum monthly rate.  Firstly, the federal SSI payment standard for 2020 is $783 per month.  Secondly, most states provide an additional small supplemental payment.  Thirdly, Social Security calculates your SSI disability amount based on your income, assets and resources.  Fourthly, your SSI benefit can be reduced by wages you or your spouse earn and other resources you receive. You want to make sure your disability amount determined is accurate.

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

What Are Non-Medical Requirements for Disability?

What Are Non-Medical Requirements for Disability? To receive Social Security disability insurance benefits (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income benefits (SSI) you must meet both medical and non-medical requirements.  Typically, Social Security will make sure you meet the non-medical requirements before looking at the medical requirements. 

General Non-Medical Requirements for Disability

The non-medical requirements for disability include any criteria not related to your medical or mental health conditions.  This includes your proof of age.  Generally, you can use your birth certificate as proof of age.  Social Security will also ask you questions about your marital status and children. 

Non-Medical Requirements for Disability and Work Status

Additionally, Social Security will also need to confirm that you are no longer working.  Social Security defines disability as having medical conditions that keep you from working.  Your conditions must keep you from working for at least 12 months.  Therefore, if you are still working full time or are out of work for less than 12 months, you would not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. 

Non-Medical Requirements for SSDI

In order to qualify for SSDI benefits, you need to have worked a certain number of years. Any worker with a valid Social Security number who paid into Social Security may file for SSDI benefits.  Social Security keeps track of your earnings and work credits.  You receive work credits each year that you work and pay taxes.  Generally, you need at least 20 work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. 

Non-Medical Requirements:  SSDI Work Credits

Social Security disability work credits expire after a certain amount of time after you stop working.  Your date last insured (DLI) is the last date you can qualify for SSDI benefits.   Usually, your DLI covers five years after you stop working.  However, your coverage may end in less than five years if your earnings were low.  Your coverage may also be limited if your work was inconsistent. 

Example :  SSDI work credits

As an example, say you stopped working in June 2019.  You worked consistently for the past 12 years.  Your date last insured would expire around June 2024.  Therefore, you are currently eligible to file for Social Security disability benefits. 

Non-Medical Requirements:  Expired DLI

You can still apply and qualify for SSDI benefits if your DLI has expired.  However, you must prove that you were disabled before your DLI expired.  Sometimes, this can be very difficult.  The longer you wait to file for SSDI after your DLI expired, the harder it can be to prove your case. 

Example:  SSDI expired DLI

For example, Donna stopped working in June 2013 when her fibromyalgia symptoms became worse.  She did not file for Social Security benefits until December 2019.  Her DLI expired in June 2018.  Donna must have medical evidence showing that her condition prevented her from working before June 2018. 

Non-Medical Requirements for SSI

Supplemental Security Income is a financial needs-based program.  To qualify for SSI, Social Security considers your income, assets and resources.  Unlike SSDI, you do not need to have worked or earn any work credits.  Both children and adults can file for SSI.  However, Social Security looks at the income of the parents for children’s SSI eligibility. 

What are the Financial Requirements for SSI?

SSI benefits have a very strict set of financial requirements.  It is considered a “means-tested” benefit.  To meet the SSI income requirements,

  • You must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 for a couple)
  • Have a very limited income
  • Are a US citizen (there are very few exceptions to this)

Can You File for Both SSDI and SSI?

In some cases, you can file for both SSDI and SSI.  You may have earned enough credits for SSDI.  You may also meet the financial requirements for SSI.  Filing for both SSDI and SSI is referred to as filing for “concurrent benefits.”   However, to receive concurrent benefits, you must be approved medically for SSDI but receive low monthly payments. 

Example:  non-medical requirements for SSDI and SSI

For example, you have worked consistently in the past.  Unfortunately, you have had to stop working due to your medical conditions.  Now that you are no longer working, your income is very limited.  You may have to apply for state assistance or file for SSDI/SSI or rely on others for financial help. 

Technical Denials

If you do not meet the non-medical requirements for disability, you will receive a technical denial.  Social Security will send you notice of a technical denial pretty quickly.  You cannot appeal a technical denial. 

Medical Requirements for Disability

If you meet the non-medical requirements for disability, Social Security evaluates the medical requirements.  Your claim will be sent to Disability Determination Services (DDS.)  DDS contacts your doctors for you medical records.  They may schedule examinations with a Social Security consultative examiner.  DDS will determine whether you are medically disabled.  

Getting Help with your Disability Claim

Working with an experience advocate can be beneficial.  It can help improve your chances of winning your case.  Your disability advocate understands both the medical and non-medical requirements for Social Security disability claims.  They can help guide you through the process. 

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

Related Articles

How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits? The Social Security Administration keeps track of your earnings and work credits.  They do this by using your Social Security number.  Social Security provides this information on your Social Security Earnings Statement.  It is available to everyone age 25 and over.  Social Security mails out your statement periodically.  You can also look at your statement online.  You would need to create an online account with Social Security.  Occasionally checking your estimated Social Security benefits lets you to check for any mistakes on your record.

What are Social Security Disability Work Credits?

Work credits are credits that you earned during your work history.  You receive work credits each year that you work and pay taxes.  Unfortunately, Social Security can’t pay you benefits if you don’t have enough work credits.  These credits are required to receive Social Security disability benefits (SSDI), retirement benefits and Medicare.   However, you do not need work credits to file for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).  To file for SSI, you need to meet certain income requirements. 

How do I earn Social Security disability work credits?

Work credits are based on your total wages and self-employment income for the year.  At most, you can earn four work credits per year.  The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit can change from year to year.  In 2020, you must earn $5,640 to get four credits for the year.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

How many work credits do I need for Social Security Disability benefits?

Generally, you need to earn a total of 20 work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  Typically, Social Security will look back ten years from the date you filed your disability application.  You must have worked at least five of those years to qualify.  However, there are some age exceptions.  If you are younger, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits with fewer credits.  For example:

  • Before age 24 – you need to earn 6 credits or have worked 1.5 years
  • Ages 24-30 – you need to earn 8-18 credits or have worked 2-4.5 years
  • Ages 31 or older – you need at least 20 credits in the 10 year period before you became disabled

Do my Social Security disability work credits expire?

Additionally, in order to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, you must meet a recent work test.  After you stop working, you do not have an indefinite time to file for disability benefits.  Like other insurance program, your coverage ends after a certain amount of time from when you stop working.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

How Does My Date Last Insured Impact My Disability Work Credits

Your date last insured (DLI) is the last date you can qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  Your DLI depends on when you last worked.  Usually, your DLI lasts five years after you stop working.  However, if your earnings were low or your work was inconsistent, your DLI may be less than five years. 

Example 1: Date last insured

Bob stopped working in December 2014.  He had worked for seven years as an auto mechanic.  While he was out of work, Bob fell and injured his neck and shoulder in February 2019.  He no longer could work.  Bob’s date last insured expires in December 2019.  Since Bob’s DLI expires after he became unable to work, he can still qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

Example 2:  Date last insured

Gina stopped working in June 2018 after she needed knee surgery.  She had worked for over 10 years as a home health aide.  She was unable to return to work after her surgery.  Gina’s date last insured would not expire until around June 2023.  Therefore, she is currently eligible to file for Social Security disability benefits. 

What if my DLI has expired?

You can still file for Social Security disability benefits if you stopped working more than five years ago.  However, you would need to show that you became disabled before your DLI expired.  You must have medical evidence that shows you couldn’t work before your DLI.  Sometimes, this can be very difficult.  Older medical records might not be available.  You may not remember all of the doctors that treated you.  How Can I Check My Social Security Disability Credits?

Work with an experienced disability advocate to make sure your Social Security disability work credits are correct

An experienced disability advocate can really help in these situations.  Your disability advocate can help you understand these complicated issues.  They can help you gather the medical evidence you need to win your case.  Frequently, if your DLI has expired, you may need to go to a Social Security disability hearing to decide your case.  Your disability advocate gets your ready for your hearing.  They also make sure the judge has everything they need to decide your case.  How Do I Check My Social Security Disability Work Credits?

Disability Help Group:  Winning Case Study

George stopped working in 2013 because he had a car accident.  Unfortunately, he was unable to go back to work.  He suffered from chronic back pain.  George didn’t know he could file for Social Security disability benefits when he stopped working.  He contacted Disability Help Group for assistance in 2019.  At that time, his date last insured had expired in December 2018.  George had to go to a disability hearing.  We were able to help George provide all of his medical records to the judge since his accident.  Therefore, George was able to show that his medical conditions kept him from working before his DLI.  He was approved for benefits.  

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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Can I Check My Disability Status Online?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

You can check the status of your Social Security disability claim online.

What your application status shows when you check your status online, you can find:

  • Your re-entry number for your online application or appeal that hasn’t been submitted
  • The date Social Security received your application or appeal
  • Your scheduled hearing date and time
  • The location of your application or appeal including the address of the office processing your application
  • If a decision has been made

How to check your disability application status online

You must sign into your “my Social Security” account.  You can’t check the status of your claim online if you don’t have a “my Social Security” account.  First, scroll down to the “Your Benefit Application” section.  Next, select “View Details” to check your application status. 

How to create a “my Social Security” account

Social Security asks you for specific information to create an online account.  However, you can only create an account for yourself.  You can’t create an account for another person.  You will need the following in order to view your Social Security disability online status:

  • Firstly, A valid email address
  • Secondly, Your social security number
  • Thirdly, A U.S. mailing address
  • You must be at least 18 years old

Other ways to check your application status

If you can’t get online to check the status of your application, you can also:

  • Call your local Social Security office or Social Security’s national telephone number or disability lawyer
  • Call the claims adjudicator assigned to your case

Why should I check my disability status online?

You should check the status so you can:

  • Make sure Social Security has all of the paperwork to process your application or receives your medical records.
  • Avoid missing any deadlines to appeal your claim if you are denied

Filing for Social Security Disability Online Status

There are many steps Social Security takes before making a decision on your claim.  Generally, it takes Social Security time to process your disability application.  There are also different departments that handle your claim.  Additionally, the application process requires a lot of paperwork.  Overall, the disability process can be overwhelming and frustrating when you don’t know how it works. 

  1.  You send your disability application to your local Social Security office. 
  2. The local office processes your application. 
  3. Social Security sends your claim to Disability Determination Services or DDS. Shortly after you have been assigned a claim adjudicator, he or she will contact you and provide paperwork regarding your claim.

Disability Status Online: Reconsideration

If Social Security denies your initial application, you file an appeal for reconsideration.

Disability Status Online: Requesting a Hearing

If Social Security denies your reconsideration appeal, you then request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.  Social Security sends your case to the hearing office, called the Office of Hearings Operations (OHO).  OHO assigns an administrative law judge (ALJ) to your case.  You will receive a letter telling you of the date, time and location of your hearing.   It may take several months for OHO to schedule your hearing. 

Benefits of Working with a Disability Advocate

Most importantly, an experienced disability advocate knows the process.  They will guide and appeals process and explain the disability rules.  They can help you get the right evidence to support your claim.  Additionally, your disability advocate checks the status of your case regularly.  They will make sure that there isn’t any missing information. 

Example 1:  help with Social Security’s forms

As an example, Social Security sends you several forms to complete.  Specifically, they will send you forms about your daily activities.  They also need more information about the type of work you’ve done in the past.  Unfortunately, Social Security can deny your claim if they don’t get these forms from you.   These forms can seem overwhelming.  However, your disability advocate can help you complete these forms.  They will also make sure that Social Security receives your completed forms. 

Example 2:  following up with Social Security

Many times, Social Security sends you letters that tell you what information is missing from your claim.  These letters will tell you that some of your doctors haven’t sent in records.  Your disability advocate can check on the status of your claim with Social Security.  Often, they will get more accurate information than the letters or an online status check will provide.  Then, your disability advocate works with you to make sure Social Security gets all of your medical records. 

Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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What are Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

Social Security over 55 Grid rules are special disability rules that can help you win your case. 

Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

It is much easier for Social Security to approve your application for disability benefits if you are over age 55.  Typically, for disability benefits, you have to show that you can’t work.  If you under age 50, you have to show that you can’t do any kind of work at all.  As you get older, there are more favorable rules Social Security can use to approve your case.  That’s because Social Security understands that it may be harder for older people to do new types of work.  These rules are the “grid rules.” 

The grid rules consider different factors.  These factors include:

  • Age
  • How far you went in school
  • Work background
  • Residual functional capacity (RFC) – what you can do despite your medical conditions

The Grid Rules and Your Past Work

Social Security will look to the grid rules once they have figured out your residual functional capacity (RFC).  In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work.  The grid rules will only apply if Social Security finds that you can’t return to your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  Past relevant work is work done in the past 15 years.  It should also have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work. 

Social Security has different physical categories of work.  These include:

  • Sedentary – mostly sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

Over 55 Grid Rule Past Skilled Work

Social Security will also look at the type of skills required to do your past work.  Sometimes, there are skills from your past work that can be used to do different types of jobs.  Social Security calls them transferable skills.  It is harder to apply a favorable grid rule when there are transferable skills.  However, transferable skills won’t apply if you can only do simple, routine tasks.  Generally, Social Security makes this finding when there is treatment for mental health problem. 

Applying Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

Case study 1:  Over 55 Grid Rules

For example, a 58 year old man applied for disability because he had coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes and COPD.  He previously worked as a warehouse worker and line technician for the local cable company.  Social Security categorized his past work as medium and heavy.  They found that he could only do light work.  Additionally, Social Security found that here were no transferable skills. Therefore, the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules directed a finding that he was disabled. 

Case study 2:  Over 55 Grid Rules

In another example, a 57 year old woman applied for disability benefits due to degenerative joint disease in her right shoulder and right knee.  She also suffered from vertigo and major depressive disorder.  She previously worked as an accounts receivable clerk.  Social Security found that she could do simple, routine and light jobs.  Her past work is a sedentary job.  However, it requires more complex tasks.  Therefore, Social Security found that she could not return to her past job.  As a result, her case was approved under the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules. 

Case study 3:  Over 55 Grid rules

Lastly, a 59 year old man filed for disability benefits because he had degenerative disc disease in his back, osteoarthritis in his hips and depression.  He needed a cane to stand and walk.  He previously worked as a truck driver and a waiter.  Social Security found that he could do simple, routine sedentary jobs.  Since his past work was categorized as light and medium, the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules applied.  Social Security was able to approve his claim. 

Working with a SSDI Disability Lawyer

An experienced SSDI disability lawyer will tell if you these grid rules apply in your case.  More importantly, a disability lawyer can help you get the evidence you need to apply the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules and win your case. 

Disability Help Group:  Winning Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules

For instance, Michael applied for benefits because he had back pain.  He was 59 years old and had worked in as a janitor for many years.  Unfortunately, Michael was denied for benefits.  He had not seen his doctors in a while.  However, his doctors had told him that he could not work as a janitor any more.  Michael then turned to Disability Help Group.  We helped him file an appeal.  Our advocate suggested that he see a specialist for his back.  Michael started seeing an orthopedist and pain management doctor.  We also advised him to have an MRI of his back.  At his hearing, the judge found that he could not do his past job as a janitor.  The judge found that Michael could not lift or carry 50 pounds.  As a result, Michael was limited to light work.  The judge approved his case based on the Social Security Over 55 Grid Rules.  

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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What are Social Security Over 50 Grid Rules?

Posted on by Ken LaVan

Social Security over 50 Grid rules can help you win your disability case.

Social Security Disability Over 50 Grid Rules

Generally, Social Security defines disability as having the inability to work.  They look at your ability to go back to your past work.  They also look at your ability to do other types of work.  However, Social Security recognizes that it may be harder for older individuals to do new work.  Therefore, there are more favorable rules for older people.  These rules are the “grid rules.” 

The grid rules consider different factors.  These factors include:

  • Your age
  • Education
  • Work background
  • Residual functional capacity (RFC) – what you can do despite your medical conditions

The Grid Rules and Your Past Work

Social Security will look at the grid rules once they have figured out your RFC.  In order to apply the grid rules, Social Security must categorize your past work.  The grid rules will only apply if Social Security finds that you can’t return to your past work.  Social Security only considers past relevant work.  Past relevant work is work done in the past 15 years.  It should also have resulted in significant earnings.  Temporary or part-time jobs might not count as past relevant work. 

Social Security has different physical categories of work.  These include:

  • Sedentary – mostly sitting jobs that don’t require lifting more than 10 pounds
  • Light – usually require more standing and don’t require lifting more than 20 pounds
  • Medium – requires lifting between 25-50 pounds
  • Heavy – requires lifting more than 50 pounds

The Grid Rules Past Skilled Work

Social Security will also look at the type of skills required to do your past work.  Sometimes, there are skills from your past work that can be used to do different types of jobs.  These are transferable skills.  It is harder to apply a favorable grid rule when there are transferable skills.  However, transferable skills won’t apply if you can only do simple, routine tasks.  Generally, Social Security makes this finding when there is evidence of mental health impairment. 

Applying the Over 50 Grid Rules

Case study 1:  Social Security over 50 Grid rules

In one case, a 54 year old man applied for disability benefits after he had his knee replaced.  Unfortunately, he continued to have pain and swelling in his knee.  This made it impossible for him to go back to work.  He previously worked as a security guard.  Social Security determined that he had the ability to perform sedentary work.   Social Security found that there were no transferable skills.  Therefore, the grid rules directed a finding of disabled. 

Case study 2:  Social Security over 50 Grid rules

In another case, a 51 year old woman applied for disability based on coronary artery disease, depression and anxiety.  She previously worked as an office manager and cashier.  She suffered from frequent chest pain and leg swelling, also had trouble concentrating.  Social Security determined that she could perform sedentary work.  Her job as an office manager was categorized as sedentary.  Yet, Social Security also found she could only do simple and routine tasks.  Since her job required more complex tasks, she was not able to return to her past work.  Therefore, the grid rules allowed Social Security to approve her case. 

Hire a disability expert who knows the Social Security over 50 Grid Rules

Unfortunately, the grid rules don’t always work out in your favor.  This is especially true if you are applying for disability benefits for non-physical conditions.  Most commonly, these conditions include problems such as anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder alone. 

For example, a 53 year old man applied for disability benefits when he could no longer work due to depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  He previously worked in a poultry factory.  Social Security found that he could only perform simple and routine tasks.  Without any physical restrictions, the Social Security over 50 Grid rules directed a finding of not disabled.  Consequently, he was denied benefits.

Working with a SSDI Disability Lawyer

Even if the Social Security over 50 Grid rules don’t work in your favor, you can still win your case.  In the above example, this gentleman can still win if he proves his conditions meet the medical listing requirements.  He can also be approved if he shows he would miss work a lot. 

Hire a Disability Expert

An experienced SSDI disability lawyer will help explain the Social Security over 50 Grid rules.  They can tell if you these grid rules apply in your case.  More importantly, disability lawyer can help you get the evidence you need to apply the grid rules and win your case. 

Disability Help Group:  Winning Grid Case Study

For instance, Jerry applied for benefits because he had knee pain and swelling.  He also had diabetes and diabetic neuropathy.  He was 52 years old and had worked in a warehouse for many years. 

Unfortunately, Social Security denied Jerry’s claim.  He couldn’t understand why.  His doctors told him to apply.  Finally, Mr. Doyle turned to Disability Help Group.  Our advocate suggested that he get a prescription for the cane he had been using.  She also noticed that his doctor didn’t write down that he needed to elevate his legs, even though the doctor told Jerry this several times.  On our advocate’s advice, he spoke with his doctor.  Then, the recommendation was included in his medical records.  At hearing, the judge found that Jerry couldn’t do his warehouse job.  The judge also found that he couldn’t stand or walk for more than two hours a day.  Therefore, Jerry was limited to sedentary work.  The Social Security over 50 Grid rules were applied and the judge approved his claim. 

Disability Help Group, Call Now for a Free Case Review, 800-700-0652

Make sure you start your claim the right way and apply for all the benefits you deserve. Contact us now for a free consultation.

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