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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Moving forward after a Social Security Disability denial

Many West Virginia residents make the decision to apply for Social Security disability benefits after experiencing a significant injury or disabling condition that has left them unable to work. However, lots of applications from people with bona fide disabilities are frequently denied, especially in the early stages of the process. When an applicant receives a notification of a denial, there are several steps that they can take to help protect their interests moving forward.

The first step after receiving a disability benefits denial is to contact the local Social Security office where the claim was initially filed. There, an applicant can request an appeal, and the necessary forms will be sent by mail. Many people choose to instead file a new claim. However, the possibility of success is much greater by appealing a denial than by making a new benefits application.

Getting approved for SSD without being on medication

West Virginia workers who have become disabled but are not taking medication might wonder if this fact would mean they cannot qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. It is not necessary to be taking medication for a disability in order to be approved for disability benefits; however, if a claimant is not taking medications, it could be more likely that the claim will be denied.

Social Security identifies many disabling conditions, and it is possible to be approved for disability benefits even if the disabling condition is not on the administration's list. But in order to be approved, a person must demonstrate that his or her medical condition makes working impossible. Someone who has a disability and is taking medication for his or her condition could be more likely to have a claim approved than someone who has a disability but is not taking medication. In the latter case, a disability examiner might be of the opinion that the disability is not severe, or deny the claim because it could be possible for the person to work if he or she was taking medication.

Interview for SSDI or SSI

West Virginia residents who seek to claim Social Security benefits can file their SSI and SSDI applications online, on the telephone or by visiting a nearby Social Security office. Because it tends to provide incorrect information, it is not advisable to use the teleclaims center. Individuals are also advised against filing for disability benefits online because the online process cannot be used if they have to file for SSI disability. They will also be unable to consult directly with a claims representative, who may be able to help alleviate confusion and prevent mistakes that can occur while applying for the benefits or appealing denied benefits.

Part of the application process involves undergoing an interview, which can be conducted in person at a local Social Security office or on the phone. For individuals who opt to submit the disability claim in person, they should be prepared to submit a picture ID.

SSDI benefits based on PTSD in West Virginia

Some individuals may develop post-traumatic stress disorder after they have been through a distressing event. People who suffer from PTSD may be disabled by their conditions and unable to work as a result. PTSD sufferers may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits if their conditions are severe enough that they are unable to perform any substantial gainful activity.

PTSD is a severe form of anxiety that can be caused by experiencing emotionally traumatic events. In order to be approved for SSDI based on PTSD, people will either need to show that their conditions meet the criteria listed in the Blue Book or that they meet the requirements for medical-vocational allowances. PTSD that does not meet the listing criteria may still qualify a sufferer for disability benefits if it is severe enough that the person is unable to return to a former job and perform any substantial gainful activity.

Are you quitting your job because of migraines?

You missed work again because you were fighting through the symptoms of another migraine. When you returned to work, your co-workers may have sympathized, complaining of their own headaches, or they may have dismissed your pain as another excuse for a day off work. However, spending a day at home in a dark, silent room is not your idea of a fun day off, and you know it is just a matter of time before the next migraine knocks you on your back again.

If you are a victim of chronic migraines, you may be realizing you will not be able to continue working much longer. You may be less able to focus on your tasks, or you are falling behind on important projects. However, leaving work and applying for Social Security Disability Income for migraines is a risky decision.

Who qualifies for Social Security benefits?

West Virginia residents who think they might be entitled to Social Security benefits could be confused about the requirements. There are two types of Social Security disability benefits, and the qualification requirements for each type are based not only on disability but on factors including work history and income.

Supplement Security Income is based on need rather than work history. People who are disabled or blind and fall below a certain income level may qualify for SSI. Social Security Disability is based on work history. SSD works like insurance: While working, the worker pays into the system to insure against income loss if he or she is ever disabled and unable to work.

Getitng maximum family benefits from SSA

The Social Security Administration allows certain family members to receive derivative payments from the eligible family member. These payments are subject to formulas used by the SSA to ascertain maximum benefit levels. The amount is capped at what the SSA calls the Family Maximum Benefit.

Depending on the situation, derivative benefits could be paid to spouses, children, survivors or even parents of an eligible individual. The amount each individual could receive depends on multiple factors including whether the individual is a minor child, disabled adult child, retirement-aged spouse, or parent caring for minor or disabled children. Generally, the maximum amount any one individual can receive is 50 to 80 percent of the amount drawn by the named individual receiving SSA benefits from whom the other claims are derived.

Benefits claims can take months to process

West Virginia residents may feel that too much time passes between applying for disability benefits and receiving a response. If an application needs to be heard by an administrative law judge, it could take two years for a hearing to take place. As a general rule, a decision can take about three to four months to reach. These wait times could increase as the number of applications surges because of the aging workforce.

One way to decrease the wait time is to provide an examiner with the information they need to make a decision. Generally, decisions are made based on an interpretation of available medical records. The more information about a medical history a person can provide, the better the odds are that they'll obtain a timely and favorable ruling in an initial application.

Why benefit applications may take awhile to process

West Virginia residents may find that it takes weeks or months for a decision regarding their application for Social Security Disability benefits. It may be frustrating to know that there is no deadline for when an application must be processed. However, it is also important to know that those who review applications are assessed on their ability to process claims in a timely manner. Therefore, the lack of a timely decision is generally not due to lazy claim reviewers.

Generally speaking, an application will remain in limbo until a reviewer has the medical records necessary to make a decision. This may be delayed if an applicant providers incomplete or inaccurate contacts for a doctor or hospital. Even if the information is accurate, it may take time for a doctor or hospital to respond to a request to transfer needed information. In some cases, a decision cannot be made until an applicant receives surgery or another type of therapy.

A dark cloud once again descends on coal miners

Coal miners here in West Virginia and surrounding states have always faced grave risks in their job. You and your employer probably take significant steps to prevent injuries due to events such as cave-ins and explosions. Modern technology and equipment may help make your job safer, but researchers recently discovered that an old danger has resurfaced that you probably didn't count on having to face.

Epidemiologists with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health thought they had eradicated black lung disease back in the 1990s. Cases dropped to nearly nothing and everyone went about their business. Recently, however, this dark cloud over the coal mining industry has made a dangerous resurgence.

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Shawn Taylor, PLLC
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Charleston, WV 25301

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