Friday, March 23, 2007

How does Social Security determine if you are disabled?

There is a five step process the Social Security Administration uses to determine if you are disabled.
  1. Are you working? If you are working at SGA level SSA will determine you are not disabled. If SSA determines you are not working you go to step 2.
  2. Is your condition "severe"? If SSA determines your condition is not severe you will be denied at this stage. Social Security will find your condition to be severe if it interferes with your ability to do basic work related activities. If your condition is severe you go to step 3.
  3. Does your medical condition meet or equal one of the medical listings of impairments. If it does you will be found disabled? If it does not you will move to next step.
  4. Can you perform your past work? If SSA determines you can perform your past work you will be found not disabled. If they decide you can not perform past work you go to step 5.
  5. Can you do any other work? This is the last and probably most complicated step. It does not mean if there is any job at all out there that you can do Social Security will deny you. SSA uses vocational guidelines sometimes called the GRID Rules. Your age, education and past work experience all come into play here.

These are the steps in the most simple way I could explain them. To get more information on the steps see my web site page called "am I disabled".

Thursday, March 22, 2007

When should I apply for Social Security Disability?

To get SSDI or SSI you must be out of work for at least 1 year or expected to be out of work for a year or more. So if you want to apply before waiting a year you should try and get a letter from your doctor that says he or she feels you will be unable to work for at least a year or more. On the other hand many people for different reasons don't apply as soon as they can. This can be a mistake because you can only get paid for the months 1 year prior to your application in a SSDI case. In SSI you can only get paid from your date of application. So in my opinion apply as soon as you can.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

LTD and Social Security Disability

Many of you applying for Social Security Disability may also be applying for or getting Long Term Disability benefits from an insurance company or employer. One thing you may already know is that the insurance company pays less if you get SSDI. Most LTD policies require that you apply for Social Security Disability Benefits. They may even recommend a representative to help with your Social Security claim. My thoughts on using the insurance companies recommended representative can be found on my other blog at my Ultimate Social Security Disability Guide web site. One issue which you might want to keep in mind is that the LTD policy usually changes the definition of disability after 2 years so many people are denied after getting these benefits for two years. Many insurance companies also only pay for a psychiatric disability for two years. Check your policy and read it carefully. Social Security Disability and Long Term Disability claims when being pursued at the same time can have many issues to deal with so make sure to consult with a lawyer if you have both.