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West Virginia Social Security Blog

What medical records are required for Social Security Disability?

Many West Virginia residents are qualified to file for Social Security disability benefits. However, it can be difficult to figure out what sort of medical documentation is required for approval.

The U.S. Social Security Administration doesn't actually require applicants to present any past medical history in order to qualify for disability benefits, but it does require that a disability examiner confirm an applicant's eligibility for benefits. In order to do that, a disability examiner prefers to have past medical records. While hospital and emergency room records provide useful information, they don't provide an overall picture of an applicant's long-term limitations. However, things like physician's notes from a primary care doctor, imaging results, blood work, breathing test results and physical, occupational and speech therapy assessments can give an examiner real insight into an applicant's disability.

Disability hearings can be positive for SSDI applicants

Applying for Social Security Disability Insurance can be a lengthy, stressful process, particularly when the financial assistance is desperately needed by an applicant. However, the process often involves several stages of review. The initial application and the reconsideration appeal, the first two stages of the process after a West Virginia claimant files an application, are both decided inside the Social Security Administration by disability examiners.

Disability examiners work directly from the files given and gather information from the medical sources provided. They cannot ask questions of the applicant or inquire further about their work history or other issues that may not be fully addressed in the benefits application. In addition, they typically prioritize the medical testimony and assessment of in-house physicians over those of the applicant's own doctors, even though these medical consultants have never examined or treated the individual applying for benefits. Therefore, it is unsurprising that disability examiners have a higher rate of application denials than administrative law judges.

Social security benefits can help black lung sufferers

Workers in West Virginia who have been employed in the coal mines for many years may face lifelong health effects as a result of years of work underground breathing in coal dust. Known as "black lung," the lung diseases and damage caused by long-term coal mining work can be a permanent disability that prevent miners from going back to work. For people suffering from this severe illness, filing for Social Security Disability can be an important step.

There are a number of benefits that coal miners suffering from black lung and related disabilities can access during their lives, including Social Security Disability payments. In addition, coal miners' families may be eligible after a miner's death for payments under both the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act as well as a state workers compensation program; these programs are designed provide compensation to the family of an employee who died due to occupational disease or a workplace accident or injury.

STABLE accounts offer savings options for SSI recipients

People with disabilities in West Virginia who are receiving Supplemental Security Income may be worried about how they can save money without losing eligibility for the programs they depend on for ongoing monthly expenses. One such vehicle that can be used is a STABLE account, a specific type of investment account available for people with disabilities under the provisions of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. These types of accounts are similar to other investment accounts like a 401(k) for retirement or a 529 for college savings. People with disabilities can use the contents of the account tax-free for expenses associated with their disabilities.

These types of accounts also allow people with disabilities to save without losing their eligibility for means-tested programs like Supplemental Security Income or Medicaid. When funds are deposited into the account, they will be invested in options that the account owner can choose. The accounts are designed to support long-term savings, but the account holder can also remove funds from the account when needed for expenses related to their disability.

The interplay between SSD and LTD benefits

If a Virginia resident receives long-term disability (LTD) benefits, he or she may be required to also file for Social Security Disability. The LTD provider will reduce the amount of money an individual receives by the amount a person receives from the government. For instance, if someone were receiving $1,000 a month in LTD benefits and received $500 from the government, the LTD provider would reduce its payout by $500.

It is important to note that a person could receive back benefits from the government. This is because a person may be entitled to them from a date prior to filing an initial benefit application. In such a scenario, the LTD provider could be entitled to some or all of that money. In some cases, the money is due as soon as an individual receives the retroactive pay. In others, the insurance company will reduce its monthly payment until the overpay is resolved.

Is a chronic pain disorder keeping you from working?

West Virginia readers know that certain medical conditions and types of injuries could keep them from working and earning a living. Some of the most debilitating types of injuries are not visible, yet they can rob you of your ability to do the same job you did in the past.

If you are physically limited by an unseen medical condition, you still may have a rightful claim to disability benefits. You may have grounds to move forward with your pursuit of financial support if you are dealing with a chronic inflammation or pain disorder, such as fibromyalgia. You might find it beneficial to take steps to learn about your rights and legal options.

Approaches to speed up disability decisions by citing dire need

An applicant in West Virginia pursuing Social Security Disability benefits might have grounds to submit a dire need request when threatened by the loss of a home. The expected shutoff of utilities or an inability to purchase medicine might also qualify as a dire need. People with disability claims pending at the hearing level could benefit from submitting a dire need request. If the agency finds the request to have merit, then a hearing for the applicant might be scheduled as soon as possible ahead of other cases.

The hearing level stage offers additional opportunities to receive an expedited response to a claim that might shave months off a wait period. An applicant or a representative for the person could prepare a request known as an on-the-record review. This letter presents evidence about the person's disability and asks the hearing office to issue an immediate decision without taking time to conduct a hearing.

Slow decision process for SSD

West Virginia residents who have submitted an application for Social Security Disability benefits should be prepared to wait for what could a significantly long time before they receive a decision. The process for determining disability can be a lengthy one as disability examiners have no deadline by which they are required to come a decision.

Even so, a majority of cases may be decided in just a few months after an application has been received. For other cases, the decisions may come more quickly, sometimes within weeks, while others make as long as one year.

How to go about applying for SSD benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance can help an individual who has a medical issue or some other condition that limits his or her ability to work. However, West Virginia residents may find that applying for such benefits is a frustrating process. To make the process easier, applicants should first determine if they are eligible for benefits. Individuals could be entitled to benefits even if they are younger than the retirement age.

However, a successful applicant must have paid FICA taxes for at least five of the last 10 years. If an individual does file for benefits, it can take up to six months for an initial application to be reviewed. Cases can take up to 800 days to resolve if an initial application and initial appeal are denied. To increase the odds that a case is resolved in a timely manner and in an applicant's favor, it may be worthwhile to seek help quickly.

Preparing your application for disability benefits

If you are unable to work, you may have a rightful claim to disability benefits. However, the Social Security Administration holds a strict view of what kinds of medical conditions actually qualify as disabling. In addition to the qualification requirements, the process itself can be lengthy, complex and frustrating for applicants.

You may find yourself unable to work due to a medical condition, serious injury or mental disorder, but you may not know where to begin with your benefits application. One of the things that you can do to improve your chance for a successful application is to know how to prepare your claim and gather important documentation.

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