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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Timelines vary for receiving Social Security Disability benefits

Disabilities can impose significant financial hardships on people in West Virginia. Although the process of applying for benefits and gaining approval takes time, the Social Security Administration does strive to make decisions in a timely manner.

People who gain approval for their disability claim either during the original application process or at a reconsideration appeal receive their money more quickly than people who need a hearing with an administrative law judge. When approvals emerge from appeals or initial applications, the agency sends them directly to the applicable regional Social Security office. Once the local office gets the paperwork, a claims representative will set up the claim for payment. Money will be disbursed the first month that the person is eligible for benefits.

Pain is a factor in Social Security determinations

Many individuals living in West Virginia live with pain. It can sometimes be managed effectively, but in other cases, pain can interfere with a person's ability to hold a job. If the pain persists, applying for Social Security Disability benefits may be a good idea.

The standards for receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration are stringent. The majority of first-time claims are denied, and it is not unusual for applicants to have to appeal the Social Security administration's decision more than once. In some cases, however, there are steps an applicant can take to increase their chances of approval.

Mistakes after being denied Social Security Disability

West Virginia residents that have applied for SSI, or social security disability benefits, and have been denied should be careful to avoid making certain mistakes afterward. A denied claim does not have to be the final answer.

One significant error to avoid is not filing an appeal after receiving a denial notification. Applicants, or claimants, should continue to pursue their claims if they believe they are entitled to the benefits. Statistics show that a large number of claims that are pursued through the appeals process are approved.

Do I have to be out of work for a year before I can get SSDI benefits?

Many people think you have to be out of work for a year or more before you can apply for government disability benefits. That is not true.

As long as you are not receiving benefits today, you can apply for Social Security Disability Insurance -- commonly called SSDI. Still, to receive those benefits, you will have to show that you will be unable to work for at least a year.

What to know about SSDI

Most West Virginia workers don't have disability insurance, and that could be a problem for those who are or become disabled. It is believed that 20 percent of workers will be disabled for a period of at least three months during their careers. However, it may be possible for someone with a disability to get benefits through Social Security. The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program does have criteria that must be met before benefits are granted.

For instance, an individual may need to have a certain number of work credits to qualify. This is because the program is funded by payroll taxes that workers pay during their working lives. The good news for those who do qualify for SSDI is that there is no means test. In other words, a person's income does not determine the amount of their monthly benefit payment.

Understanding Social Security Disability Insurance

Workers in West Virginia can use Social Security as part of their contingency plan if they experience a loss of income due to a disability, retirement or the death of the household wage earner. By the time 2016 ended, there were 61 million people in the United States receiving Social Security benefits. Sixty-eight percent of them were retired, 14 percent had a qualifying disability and 18 percent were spouses, children or surviving family members of workers who were entitled to the funds. Social Security Disability Insurance is an important part of the benefits program that essentially works alongside retirement benefits. Based on information from the Social Security Administration, young workers entering the workforce have a 33.3 percent likelihood of either dying or receiving a disability before reaching the full retirement age for Social Security.

Both workers and employers are obligated to contribute to the disability insurance fund through the tax deductions that are taken from their wages. Out of the total 12.4 percent payroll taxes, 2.37 percent, of which both the workers and employers pay half, is placed into the disability fund.

Counting resources for SSI

West Virginia residents that want to apply for Supplemental Security Income should be aware of how their resources factor into their eligibility for the benefits. The countable resource limit for an individual is $2,000. For couples, their total countable resources should not exceed $3,000.

Resources are defined as property people own. This can include cash, financial accounts, real estate, insurance, vehicles and any other item that can be exchanged for cash and be used to pay for shelter and food.

Presenting your disability case

Many people living in West Virginia may find it difficult to earn a living due to a disability. In some cases, a physical or mental condition can become so overwhelming that an individual may decide to apply for disability benefits through Social Security.

The application process for Social Security disability benefits can be complex. Applicants must not only prove that they are disabled, but they must also be able to show that their disability prevents them from working and earning a meaningful income. In some cases, officials note that applicants may spend a significant amount of time describing their disability without providing information on how their limitations keep them from working. Without this information, it can be difficult for a Social Security official to make an appropriate decision about a case.

Lack of funds could hinder SSA

The average wait time for an appeals hearing for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is about 600 days, according to two United States senators. These long waits could have significant impacts on West Virginia residents. President Donald Trump has requested $12.5 billion be allocated to the Social Security Administration's administrative budget in the fiscal year 2018. However, a recent appropriations bill would reduce the agency's budget by $460 million.

The senators are worried that the SSA would not have the resources necessary to work toward clearing the backlog. Furthermore, the senators' letter noted that articles are being published with headlines stating that thousands are dying while on waitlists. Acknowledging the issues with such long wait times, the SSA says it plans to unveil the Compassionate And REsponsive Service (CARES) plan. It would aim to use modern technology to improve business processes in an effort to achieve better results.

Can I go back to work after I get SSDI?

Question: After many years of collecting Social Security Disability (SSDI) benefits, I feel like I could manage a part-time job. I think it would be good for me to get out and I would like to feel productive, but I am afraid if I get a job that the Social Security Administration will cancel my benefits and I can't afford that.

Answer: You are right to be concerned. The SSA does do periodic reviews to make sure that you are still disabled, but you do not need to be completely fearful. Many people work a part-time job and claim SSDI benefits also. There are some simple guidelines that you need to follow, however.

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