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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Some heart attack patients may qualify for SSD benefits

West Virginia residents who have suffered heart attacks often wonder if they will thereafter qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. The answer is it depends. Many cases that are filed due to a myocardial infarction, the medical phrase for a heart attack, are eventually approved for benefits, but many of them are not as well. Whether or not a particular claim will be approved depends on the same factors as other claims. The individual who is applying for disability benefits must be unable to work for a period of 12 months or must be expected to be unable to work for 12 months.

The reason for the inability to perform gainful and substantial work activity must be a medically determinable impairment. In cases where a heart attack leaves the person with a genuine inability to work for 12 months, the claim may be approved. In cases where there was little damage to the heart as a result of the attack, though, approval is less likely.

Will you have to attend a disability hearing?

If you filed for disability benefits, it is because you need financial support due to your inability to work. Whether it is due to a medical condition, severe injury or mental illness, you are unable to earn a gainful income. It can be incredibly disheartening to learn that your claim came back denied, but that is actually quite normal. 

Many initial claims are not successful. Even with a valid medical condition, it can be difficult to secure the benefits you need and deserve from the Social Security Administration. After this happens, you can start the appeals process, first by requesting a reconsideration of your claim. The SSA will take a closer look at your case again, but if this is not successful, there are additional steps you can take. The next step is to attend a disability hearing.

Circumstances dictate when a disability hearing can be sped up

West Virginians who have an illness, condition or disability that they believe warrants Social Security disability benefits will want to get an approval as quickly as possible. Despite this, it can be problematic to convince the Social Security Administration to expedite the hearing. Still, it is possible if the circumstances warrant it. When applying, it is important to know when this can be done.

With the number of people applying for SSD benefits, a long wait time is common. To have a hearing heard quicker than usual, there are certain points to remember. Generally, the case will only be sped up if there is a demonstrated need to do so. The situation must be considered dire. It is wise to remember that with the rising wait time, more people are requesting that their case be heard sooner.

Can a person with a mental illness get disability benefits?

When a West Virginia reader is unable to work due to a medical problem or illness, it can lead to serious financial issues. Without income, a person may not be able to pay for necessary medical expenses, afford reasonable housing and buy basic necessities. This is why Social Security benefits exist – to provide support for people who cannot support themselves by holding gainful employment.

You may know that this type of support is generally available to individuals who have serious medical conditions, but you may not know this also applies to people who cannot work because of a mental illness. If you have a mental condition that precludes you from holding regular employment, it's possible that you may have a rightful claim to disability benefits.

Social Security disability has a five-month waiting period

Generally speaking, residents of West Virginia and other states are required to wait for a period of five months before they start receiving Social Security disability benefits. The waiting period begins in the month after the established onset date of the person's disability and ends five months after that. In some cases, it may be possible for a person to receive benefits without going through the five-month period but only under specific circumstances.

Because Social Security disability benefits are only paid for a maximum of 12 months prior to the applicant's protective filing date, there can arise situations in which the applicant gets the maximum 12 months of retroactive pay if they had been unable to work for 17 months or more prior to their protective filing date. The protective filing date is, broadly speaking, the date on which the applicant contacts the Social Security Administration to file for disability benefits.

People with arthritis might qualify for disability payments

In order for arthritis to qualify as a disabling impairment under Social Security disability rules, it must prevent the person from working at the level of substantial gainful activity. The SGA level is a threshold on monthly earnings determined by the Social Security Administration to be self supporting. People in West Virginia who earn more than the SGA limit are generally not considered disabled by the SSA. Typically, the applicant's level of work activity will be examined by claims representatives during the interview process.

People who are working at or above the substantial gainful activity level will have their disability claims denied without consideration of medical evidence. There are two paths for approval. The first is to satisfy the requirements of impairment listing 1.02. Under that listing, which applies to major joint dysfunction, the applicant must show that his or her arthritis effects a major weight-bearing joint, such as the hip, knee or ankle, or that it involves major peripheral joints in upper extremities. In either case, the applicant must show that the arthritis prevents ambulation or impairs gross and fine movements.

Applying for Social Security Disability benefits

People in West Virginia with mental and physical disabilities may be eligible to receive disability benefits if they are unable to work. Some people may wonder if their application will be handled differently if they have a disability related to mental illness as opposed to a physical impairment. The evaluation process used by disability examiners and administrative law judges is the same, but there may be differences in how a claim is dealt with.

In the case of a claim related to physical disability, a medical consultant affiliated with the Social Security Administration will review the applicant's records and provide a rating of each person's "residual functional capacity", a number designed to indicate a person's ability to perform different types of labor. This assessment focuses on physical abilities like sight, hearing, balance, lifting, strength and movement. These ratings are used by the disability examiner to determine if the applicant can return to a previous job or take on new work. In some cases, applicants may be required to go to a medical examination by a physician contracted by the SSA to produce an assessment of their ability to work.

How can you know if you are eligible for SSI benefits?

When a person is unable to work, it is much more than just an inconvenience. The lack of an ability to earn a living is a threat to a person's emotional and financial well-being. Thankfully, there are legal options available to these individuals -- including seeking benefits from the Social Security Administration.

If you cannot work for a medical or physical reason, you may be eligible for these benefits. However, there are two different types of benefits available to the disabled through the SSA. Most people are familiar with Social Security Disability Insurance, but there is also Supplemental Security Income. Before you move forward, it can be helpful to learn more about eligibility for SSI. 

How medical exams impact disability benefit timelines

Those who apply for disability benefits in West Virginia may be required to attend a consultative examination, or CE. This generally occurs when a person has medical records that are considered outdated or provides no medical evidence at all. In some instances, the person reviewing the case needs more information to determine how severe a person's condition is. In such a scenario, an individual will usually be sent to see a specialist.

A report from the medical examiner will be given to the disability examiner within 30 days of an appointment taking place. However, there is no official deadline as to when a person may receive benefits after submitting to a CE. Regardless of whether an applicant attends an exam or not, there is a good chance that the initial application will be denied. However, if the evidence is strong enough, an application could be approved without the need to appeal.

Administrative hearings generally last 15 minutes

West Virginia residents who have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and have had their claims rejected may be able to appeal their cases all the way to the administrative hearing level. At this point, a judge will review the matter and determine whether there is enough evidence to approve a claim. The judge will typically review the evidence before the hearing starts, which means that the hearing itself shouldn't take longer than a few minutes.

This is because there isn't much to talk about aside from letting an applicant know that outcome of the appeal. However, it is possible that a judge will want to talk with expert witnesses or assess other information before making a ruling. The witness will talk with both the judge and the applicant's attorney, and the conversation will focus on several variables related to an applicant's medical condition.

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