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West Virginia Social Security Blog

Understanding the requirements to get SSI benefits

West Virginians who are suffering from an injury, illness or condition that leaves them unable to work should consider applying for Social Security disability benefits. For some, other circumstances can combine to make them eligible for Supplemental Security Income. SSI benefits have additional criteria that should be understood before filing an application. Those who meet the threshold could receive SSI.

SSI is availablefor individuals over the age of 65 who are blind or disabled and have a limited amount of income and resources. The amount of income people can have changes periodically. For 2019, it is a ceiling of $771 per month for individuals and $1,157 per month for couples. The Social Security Administration assesses countable income and resources in various ways. There are lists that should be examined prior to applying.

Getting SSD benefits requires sufficient medical evidence

For West Virginians who suffer from an injury or condition that negatively impacts them physically, mentally or both, receiving Social Security Disability benefits could be a possibility. The benefits might be Social Security Disability insurance or Supplemental Security Income. The Social Security Administration needs evidence to grant benefits, so understanding how a case is assessed is wise.

When a decision on whether to grant an approval is made, the medical evidence will be the determining factor. The medical records will be read by the disability examiner, and the source must be deemed "acceptable." It is important to know which medical sources are acceptable and which are not. Licensed medical practitioners like physicians, psychologists and psychiatrists will be acceptable. However, a chiropractor or acupuncturist is not.

Lawmakers support increased SSI asset limits

Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries in West Virginia and around the country are generally only permitted have to resources worth $2,000 or less at any given time. For couples, this figure rises to $3,000. SSI benefits provide financial assistance to Americans who are blind, disabled or 65 years of age or older. These limits have not been revised since 1989, and they have been called arbitrary and outdated by both advocacy groups and lawmakers.

Calls to change SSI asset limits have recently attracted political backing. In September, a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would increase the limits to $10,000 for individuals and $20,000 for couples, and a similar proposal was submitted to the U.S. Senate on Oct. 30. Critics of the current limits say they deter beneficiaries from earning money or saving for emergencies.

Can you work and still get disability benefits?

When a person is no longer able to work due to a physical or mental condition, it could be grounds to seek disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. The intent of these benefits is to provide a way for people with certain types of illnesses, physical limitations and mental disabilities to have a source of income. It is not always easy to secure these benefits, even with a valid medical reason.

You may qualify for disability benefits, but you still may not be sure that these payments will be enough to support you and allow you to meet all of your needs. For this reason, you may seek to work a limited number of hours per week, but what will this mean for your disability eligibility? It is in your interests to learn more about specific eligibility requirements.

Second denial of a disability claim

Many people living in West Virginia and throughout the country file for Social Security disability benefits because they have a medical condition that affects their ability to earn a living. In many cases, the initial application for benefits as well as a reconsideration request will be denied. While this can be discouraging, individuals applying for disability may find greater success during the appeals process.

All claims for Social Security disability begin with an initial application. It is estimated that 70% of these applications will be denied by the Social Security Administration. From there, applicants can request a reconsideration although 85% of these applications will likewise be denied.

Your eyesight and your ability to claim disability benefits

When you cannot work, it seriously impairs your ability to pay for medical care and other things you need in daily life. Whether you are newly disabled or you have been unable to work for your entire adult life, you understand the importance of securing disability benefits through the Social Security Administration. This is especially important for people who are visually impaired.

In many circumstances, the SSA views blindness as a valid disabling medical condition. If you think you qualify, however, you may find it beneficial to learn more about qualifications and the application process. Even with a valid claim and a serious limited physical capacity, it is common for initial claims to come back denied.

Disability benefits are meant to be a long-term solution

West Virginia residents and others who are seeking government disability benefits cannot obtain them on a short-term basis. Those who are seeking Social Security disability benefits must prove that they have been unable to earn a gainful income for at least 12 months. Alternatively, they must prove that they don't expect to be able to for at least another 12 months. Individuals must submit a request for benefits that will be evaluated by an examiner.

If the claim is denied, an applicant has the right to appeal that decision, and there is no deadline by which an appeal must be processed. In the event that a person is granted benefits, he or she may still be able to work on a limited basis without losing his or her benefit payment. This may be true even if that individual makes more than the substantial gainful activity amount.

Work history important to SSD benefits application

People in West Virginia who are unable to work may seek to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. One of the most important parts of an application is a documented medical history that makes clear the physical or mental disabilities that prevent the claimant from working. Applicants can provide detailed information about their doctors and the treatment they have received as well as the expected prognosis. However, medical records are not the only thing needed to apply for disability benefits. Another key piece of an application is a record of the claimant's work history.

The Social Security Administration uses the information to determine if applicants are able to return to work. Applicants' work history and experiences are relevant to a determination of their disability. For example, a person who has done physical labor all of their life and has no additional training would in most cases not be expected to take a job as a computer programmer or an accountant after a physically disabling injury. The SSA relies on the information in a claimant's application to make these determinations.

Getting disability with frozen shoulder

Many people living in West Virginia struggle with the pain caused by frozen shoulder. Frozen shoulder is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the shoulder joint. While the condition can be treated and may go away after a few years, it may also recur. In addition, some individuals may find it difficult to continue work while experiencing a frozen shoulder.

Because any mobility impairment or chronic pain condition can make it difficult to earn a living, some people wonder if they might qualify for Social Security disability benefits. While it can be difficult for applicants with a frozen shoulder to be approved for SSD, it is not impossible, particularly if the applicant can show that he or she is unable to earn a sustainable living and cannot be trained for a new occupation. The Social Security Administration takes the age, work history and education of the applicant into consideration when making a determination regarding the feasibility of occupational retraining.

Seeking disability for your depression symptoms

October is Depression Awareness Month, although if you suffer from depression, you are likely already painfully aware of how serious this condition can be. Depressive disorders can be overwhelming, complicated and difficult to explain to others. The symptoms of a depressive disorder may make it difficult if not impossible to maintain relationships, carry out daily tasks and sustain gainful employment.

If your depression symptoms have prevented you from working for at least 12 months, you may be eligible for disability benefits that can assist you financially while you and your West Virginia doctors work to help you deal with your condition. While depression is listed under the Social Security Administration's "affective disorders" approved for disability benefits, this does not mean the SSA will automatically approve your application. You must demonstrate your condition is serious and disabling.

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Shawn Taylor, PLLC
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Charleston, WV 25301

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