Based on the latest figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA), roughly half of all applications for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are initially denied for medical reasons. In other words, the applicant has failed to show that he or she has a medical condition that meets the SSA’s definition of “disability.”
If you are filing a SSD benefits application or dealing with one that has been denied, it may help you to know more about how the SSA defines “disability.”
If you have more questions or need help with your claim, please contact Social Security lawyer, Frank M. Eidson, P.A. Our firm assists disabled workers throughout Orlando, Winter Park and the state of Florida. Call or contact us online today.
Only a Total Disability Qualifies for SSD Benefits
You should know that only a total disability qualifies a person for SSD benefits. If you have a partial or short-term disability, you will not qualify. However, you may consider other options, including workers’ compensation. An Orlando Social Security lawyer can help you to understand and explore these options.
A total disability is a medical condition that prevents you from doing the work you did before or from adjusting to other work. Also, the condition must have lasted or be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
When you apply for SSD benefits, the SSA forwards your application to the Florida Division of Disability Determinations. The division goes through a five-step process to determine if your condition meet this definition of “disability.”
Let’s take a closer look at each step:
1. Are you working?
If you do not work at all or your average monthly earnings fall below an amount set each year by the SSA, the division will move on to the next step. In 2014, the amount set by the SSA is $1,070 per month. If you earn, on average, more than that amount each month, you will not qualify for disability benefits.
2. Is your condition severe?
To be “disabled,” your medical condition must keep you from doing “basic work-related activities.” In other words, you must lack the ability to handle most types of job duties, including those that involve engaging in physical activity, carrying out simple instructions and responding to common work situations.
3. Do you have a listed disabling condition?
The SSA maintains a Listing of Impairments. This is also called the “Blue Book.” If you suffer from one of these listed medical conditions, you are deemed to be “disabled.” You may also be “disabled” if your condition is determined to be equal in severity to a listed impairment. If not, the division will go to the next step.
4. Can you do the work you did before?
The division must determine if your medical condition interferes with your ability to do work you did before. This is called your “residual functional capacity.” Given your condition, can you no longer physically exert yourself, carry out ordered tasks or engage in other basic work activities? If so, the division will go to the next step. If you can, your claim will be denied. The division will only look at jobs you have held in the previous 15 years.
5. Is there any other work you can do?
If you can’t do the work you did before, the division will assess whether you can do any other type of work. The division will take into account your age, education, work experience and whether you have any “transferrable skills” in making this determination. The decision won’t be based on age alone. However, if you are age 55 or older, the division is more likely to find that you can’t do other work.
What Happens After the Disability Determination?
After making its determination, the division returns your claim to the local SSA field office.
If you are determined to be disabled, the SSA field office will review your claim to make sure it meets technical, non-medical requirements. If it does, you will receive notice in the mail telling you of the date your claim was approved and the amount of benefits you should receive.
If you are determined to not be disabled, you will receive a letter telling you of the date of your denial and the reasons why your claim was denied. You will have 60 days (plus five days for mailing) to request a reconsideration of this decision.
Contact an Orlando Social Security Disability Lawyer
Having your application initially denied for medical reasons may be discouraging. But it is also common. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all applications are denied at the outset for medical reasons. You should speak with a lawyer right away to learn how to handle your appeal.
Contact Orlando Social Security lawyer Frank M. Eidson. He will personally review your case. He can also help you to handle your request for reconsideration and, if needed, all other stages of your appeal. His goal is to make sure you get the benefits you deserve.
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