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West Virginia Social Security Blog

SSDI benefits scrutinized in the light of social media posts

West Virginia residents may be interested in knowing the new role that Facebook and Instagram could play in determining whether applicants qualify for Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration released their budget for 2020 and said that they want to expand the use of Facebook and Instagram to evaluate whether an applicant for disability benefits actually meets the criteria.

This is nothing new; the Social Security Administration, in conjunction with the Office of the Inspector General, has been using social media to flag what they feel may be fraudulent activity for some time. What the Social Security Administration is asking for now is a budget that will allow them to use social media to a greater extent.

Multiple sclerosis and disability benefits

According to statistics, almost 300,000 people in Virginia and the rest of the United States have been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Another 200 cases are being diagnosed every week. Multiple sclerosis is a debilitating and progressive neurological disease that can impair a person's motor function and cause them to experience extreme fatigue, visual disturbances and mental impairment. The Social Security Administration understands the incapacitating effect of multiple sclerosis and has a specific neurological impairment listing for the disease, Listing 11.09, in its disability handbook.

Under this listing, people will be able to learn about the specific disability criteria the SSA has for SSI disability and Social Security Disability severity requirements. In order to meet the impairment listing, individuals must first be diagnosed with MS. People who apply for disability benefits will have to provide objective medial evidence from certified or licensed medical professionals or some other suitable source of medical treatment. The medical evidence that is provided will have to document the diagnosis of the disease.

Should you apply for SSDI or SSI benefits?

When a person cannot work, it affects his or her financial stability. If you are unable to hold a job because of a medical condition or a mental illness, you may be able to secure financial support from the Social Security Administration. The first step in this process is to determine which type of benefits is best for your individual situation. 

There are two different types of disability benefits available through the SSA. These are Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance. The intent of both SSDI and SSI is to provide disabled individuals with income they would not be able to get on their own. The right option for your disability claim depends on eligibility requirements and other factors.

Missing a Social Security Disability application appointment

People in West Virginia who are going through the application process for Social Security Disability benefits will be scheduled an application appointment. If the application appointment is missed, the applicant will have to meet certain obligations in order to secure benefits. Typically, when the appointment is missed, the Social Security Administration will send a letter, referred to as a closeout letter, to the applicant.

The closeout letter provides notice that the applicant has six months from the date of the denial notice to file for benefits with the date of SSA contact acting as the protected date of filing. If the applicant does not file during the six month window, he or she will receive a new filing date. This new filing date is typically the date that the person contacted the SSA to establish a new application appointment.

How to time a disability benefit filing

Individuals in West Virginia and throughout the country should apply for Social Security Disability benefits whenever their physical or mental condition makes it impossible to work. When making a decision, an examiner will look at an applicant's work and medical history. Reviewing both makes it possible to determine if there is any job an applicant could hold.

As a general rule, an examiner will look at any job performed in the last 15 years. However, a job may be disregarded if an individual didn't have an opportunity to fully grasp the position. A decision will be based primarily on whether an individual will be able to make a gainful income over the next 12 months. If an individual chooses to work, he or she may not be entitled to benefits even if that person is considered to be disabled.

Social Security disability claims and job experience

Many people in West Virginia who are no longer able to work due to disability file for Social Security benefits. A common question is whether or not an applicant's last job affects the chances of receiving a favorable decision. The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process, and two of the steps involve evaluating a claimant's ability to work.

The fourth step in the evaluation process is to determine whether or not a claimant can return to doing work similar to what they have done in the past. If this is not possible, the next step is to analyze if the claimant would be able to do another type of work with their existing conditions. During this process, the claimant's age, education and physical and mental limitations will be taken into consideration.

TBIs and SSD

A traumatic brain injury, or TBI, can negatively impact the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of a person. West Virginia residents who have sustained a TBI may be able to obtain Social Security Disability benefits. However, certain conditions have to be present.

The disability decisions that are made by Social Security do not hinge on whether the claimants have a specific medical condition. Instead, the decisions are based on whether the claimants are able to perform even with the limitations that result from the disabling condition.

Disabling mental conditions common with military members

The men and women who serve in the United States military in any capacity or branch do a great service to the country, but sometimes, they pay a significant price for doing so. One of the most common effects of serving in active duty roles is a toll on a person's mental health. Military service is stressful, emotional and sometimes traumatic, and it can have a permanent impact on a person's mental well-being. 

The military is more accepting of the need to provide support for members dealing with mental health issues, and dealing with issues is not always grounds for discharge. However, severe cases of certain types of mental disabilities can affect a person's ability to continue with his or her military career. If this happened to you, you could have a valid claim to disability benefits.

Common reasons why benefits could be taken away

It is possible that those in West Virginia who receive government benefits could have them revoked in the future. This can happen if a person is making more than the substantial gainful activity amount for a given month. It can also happen if a person's medical condition improves enough that he or she can work again. Benefits may also be revoked if a person works for more than nine months over a period of five years.

In the event that this happens, benefits are temporarily brought to an end. Those who continue working for at least three years will have their benefits taken away entirely. However, those who are again unable to work during this period of 36 months will be entitled to their benefits again. This is generally true no matter how much a person was making during his or her return to the workforce.

Disability claim mistakes to avoid

West Virginia residents who file for Social Security disability benefits should take care to avoid certain mistakes. These mistakes may not only prolong the application process, but they can also result in claims being denied.

Individuals who are applying for disability benefits should obtain all necessary medical records and thoroughly review them. It is not unusual for claimants to discover that the physician who is treating them does not agree with their claim of disability. Every effort should be made to look over the records of all medical sources that may be submitted with a disability claim.

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