We Have The Answers To Common Questions Regarding Social Security and Veterans' Disability Benefits
Most Texans who are seeking disability benefits come to us with a number of similar questions about the application process, the appeals process, and whether or not they are eligible for support. Our Social Security disability attorneys have compiled the FAQs that we hear most into the list below – and provided our readers with clear, straightforward answers.
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What documentation do I need to submit with my Social Security disability application if I have a musculoskeletal disorder?
This is a really important question, because if you do not have the right documentation to support your Social Security disability application, your application for benefits will likely be denied. Many musculoskeletal conditions improve over time and are not life threatening or completely and permanently disabling. Accordingly, if you are going to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you are going to have to prove that your condition qualifies you for such benefits.
Here’s the Documentation You Need
Section 1.00H of the Listing of Impairments the Social Security Administration describes the documentation that you will need to prove that your musculoskeletal disorder makes you eligible for Social Security disability benefits. That documentation includes:
- Your medical records over a period of time. This will help establish how long you have suffered from your condition and whether your condition may be considered to be permanent.
- Documentation of the medical treatment that has been prescribed, that you have used, and your response(s) to such treatment. Any side effects to treatment should be noted and may be relevant to your application.
- Current medical evidence. The lack of longitudinal medical records and documentation of previous treatment will not necessarily prevent you from being found eligible for benefits if you can provide current medical evidence of your disability. This may be particularly helpful in establishing eligibility based on your condition being equal in severity to another listing in the Listing of Impairments or in establishing eligibility based on your inability to work because of your residual functional capacity.
However, you don’t need to worry if you don’t have every type of documentation described above.
Not Everyone Needs Every Piece of Documentation
An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you determine what is important to submit with your Social Security disability application and what information is not necessary to a finding of eligibility. To get started, contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your first, no-obligation meeting with a board certified lawyer who is committed to helping you get the benefits that you’ve earned and that you deserve.
I’m overwhelmed right now. Do I need to apply for Social Security disability benefits today?
No. Some legal actions, such as personal injury cases, have statutes of limitation which require you to file your case by a certain date or lose the right to pursue legal action. The same is not true, however, for Social Security disability benefits. You may apply for Social Security disability benefits whenever you are ready to do so.
But There Are Benefits to Applying Sooner Rather Than Later
There are two important reasons to file for Social Security disability as soon as you think that you might be eligible for benefits. Specifically:
- The sooner you apply for benefits, the sooner you can recover benefits. You can’t get your benefits until you apply for them and your application is approved. The sooner this happens, the sooner the money will begin appearing in your bank account each month. This may help ease the financial burden of being disabled.
- You won’t have to think about when to apply for benefits any more. Sometimes, it is just better to get the process over with rather than to drag it out. You won’t have to think about whether today is the right day to take action, because you will have already done what you need to do to protect your benefits.
Despite these advantages, however, you may still be anxious about going through the Social Security disability application process.
Applying for Social Security Disability Doesn’t Have to be Stressful
Once you learn more about how the Social Security disability application process works and about how a board certified lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve, you may feel less anxious about getting started with your own claim.
Accordingly, we encourage you to read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, and to contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule your personal and confidential meeting with a board certified Social Security disability lawyer. Your lawyer will handle the details of your application while you concentrate on your health and living your life. Contact us today to learn more.
Can I open an ABLE Account in Texas? Will it impact my Social Security disability benefits?
It is expected that ABLE accounts will be available in Texas during 2018. However, these accounts won’t be available to everyone. They serve a specific purpose as defined by the federal government when the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) legislation to create these accounts was passed in December 2014 and by the Texas state government when the legislation to create these accounts was passed in May 2015.
The Basics of Texas ABLE Accounts
You may be eligible for an ABLE account if you became disabled by the age of 26 and you currently qualify for Social Security disability, Social Security Supplemental Security Income, or you can obtain a disability certification pursuant to rules that are expected to be written by the United States Treasury Department.
If you qualify, you may open an ABLE account. The ABLE account is a special type of savings account that you can use for disability-related expenses. These expenses include things that are related to maintaining or improving your health, your independence, or your quality of life. More specifically these expenses could include, but are not limited to, education, housing, health care costs, assistive technology, and legal fees related to your disability.
You may only have one ABLE account. However, anyone can deposit money into your account and all withdrawals are tax free if they are used to pay for qualified disability expenses. Additionally, any earnings on the investments in your account will grow tax free.
ABLE Accounts Should Have No Impact on Social Security Disability
Social Security disability is not a financial need based program. Thus, your savings accounts—whether ABLE accounts or other accounts—should not be considered in determining whether or not you are eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
All of this information can be confusing and it can be difficult to know what to do if you become disabled. We encourage you to learn more about your options so that you can make the right choices for you. For more information about ABLE accounts in Texas, you can visit the state’s Texans Achieving a Better Life Experience website and for more information about Social Security disability, you can contact us directly via this website or by phone at your convenience.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits for insomnia?
It may be difficult to get up for work after a night without sleep. However, when one night turns into many consecutive nights and you’ve gone a month or more suffering from lack of sleep, you may be suffering from chronic insomnia. Then, instead of it being difficult to get up and go to work, it may be close to impossible.
You May Be Disabled and You May Be Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits
While insomnia is not listed as a disability in the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments, there are ways in which you may qualify for benefits. Specifically, you may be eligible for benefits if:
- Your symptoms are equal in severity to another listing in the Listing of Impairments. Symptoms of insomnia may include: vision problems, difficulty concentrating, memory impairments, headaches, and other issues.
- You meet a different listing in the Listing of Impairments. Insomnia may be a symptom of another health condition that will qualify you for benefits. For example, if your insomnia is due to a heart condition or a mental disorder, you may qualify for benefits if you can prove your eligibility pursuant to one of those conditions.
- You lack the residual functional capacity to engage in substantial gainful activity. In other words, your insomnia prevents you from working.
However you qualify, you may have a difficult time convincing the Social Security Administration of your disability.
Get the Help You Deserve
Before you submit your application for benefits, you must make sure that you have all of the medical evidence that the Social Security Administration will be looking for and you must be sure that it can be presented in such a way to convince the agency of your disability. This is difficult to do for anyone with a disability, but it is even more challenging for people suffering from a condition such as insomnia. Thus, before you submit your application for benefits it is important to consult with a board certified Social Security disability lawyer who can help you prepare your application and fight for the disability benefits you deserve. To learn more, please contact us directly via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation.
Can I get Social Security disability benefits after a heart transplant?
The extent of your heart failure made you a candidate for a heart transplant. After significant physical and psychological evaluations, you were able to get a heart when one became available and you are likely very grateful for the opportunity that it has provided you. However, a heart transplant does not always mean that you will be able to go back to work after surgery.
You May Be Eligible for Social Security Disability
Generally, if you cannot work after a heart transplant surgery, you may be eligible for Social Security disability in one of the following ways:
- You may be eligible pursuant to Section 4.09 in the Listing of Impairments (Blue Book). The Social Security Administration considers a heart transplant a qualifying disability for one year from the date of surgery. After one year post-surgery, you will need to qualify for benefits in another way.
- You may be eligible pursuant to another section in the Listing of Impairments. If you qualify because of another cardiac condition in Section 4.00 of the Listing of Impairments or any other condition in the listing of impairments, you may recover benefits.
- You may be eligible because your condition is equal in severity to another listing in the Listing of Impairments. If your symptoms have the same impact on your life as the symptoms of a condition described in the Blue Book, you may be eligible for benefits.
- You may be eligible because you lack the residual capacity to work. If you are unable to work at any job because of the physical limitations of your health condition, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
However you may qualify, you will need to present convincing evidence to the Social Security Administration. This will include medical records and other documentation. Our board-certified Social Security disability lawyers can help you submit a complete application and can help get you the benefits for which you qualify as quickly as possible. To learn more, please contact us via this website or by phone at your earliest convenience.
Does the severity of my disability impact the value of my Social Security disability benefits?
No. The severity of your disability may impact whether or not you are eligible for Social Security disability, but once you are found eligible for benefits, the severity of your disability will have no impact on the amount of money you receive each month.
The severity of your disability is not a factor because it has already been accounted for in determining your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits. Only people who are totally disabled are eligible for benefits. If you are partially disabled, you will not qualify for benefits.
However, you will not receive the same amount in Social Security disability benefits as everyone else. Instead, the Social Security Administration will make a unique determination about your benefits based on a specific formula. That formula takes into account your average lifetime earnings before you became disabled and other government provided disability benefits.
The only difference in how Social Security disability benefits are calculated is for people who are blind. If you qualify for Social Security disability because you are blind then you may be entitled to additional monthly compensation.
In 2017, the average monthly Social Security disability payment for someone who was disabled but not blind was $1,170 and the average monthly Social Security disability payment for someone who was disabled by blindness was $1,950.
How to Make Sure You Get the Fair Benefits You Deserve
Just because your Social Security disability benefits are determined according to a formula does not mean that you shouldn’t pay attention to their determination. Instead, when you present evidence about your eligibility for benefits you should also make sure that you present evidence about your work history so that a proper determination can be made.
For more information about how to protect your rights, about how to be found eligible for Social Security disability, and about how to get the benefits you deserve, please download a free copy of our book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, and contact us directly via this website or by phone to get your questions answered.
I’ve had treatment for my digestive condition. What will the Social Security Administration want to know about my treatment if I apply for Social Security disability benefits?
If you suffer from a digestive condition, you may be eligible for Social Security disability pursuant to a specific listing in Section 5.00 of the Listing of Impairments. Since many digestive disorders get better with appropriate medical treatment, the Social Security Administration is going to want to see evidence that you have tried treatment and information about how the treatment affected you.
This Is What the Social Security Administration Wants to Know
According to Section 5.00(C) of the Listing of Impairments, here’s what you need to know about digestive condition treatment and Social Security disability eligibility:
- Treatment may include medication, therapy, surgery, and other medical interventions.
- The Social Security Administration will consider whether treatment has improved your symptoms and laboratory findings.
- The Social Security Administration will also consider any side effects you suffered as a result of treatment.
- The Social Security Administration is going to need documentation about your treatment in order to make an eligibility determination. This documentation may include information about the prescribed treatment such as the name of the medication, therapy, or procedure, the dosage or frequency of administration, and the expected duration of the treatment.
- IV nutrition or supplemental enteral nutrition via a gastrostomy is not conclusive evidence of a disability unless you have short bowel syndrome and otherwise qualify pursuant to Section 5.07.
Generally, the Social Security Administration is going to want treatment information over a period of time so that it can determine whether the effects of treatment are short-term or long-term.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Treatment?
According to Section 5.00(C)(6), you may not be able to meet the eligibility criteria described in the digestive condition section of the Listing of Impairments if you do not get treatment. However, you may be eligible for benefits if you can prove that your condition is equal in severity to another listing or if you can be considered disabled based on your residual functional capacity, age, education, and work experience.
Additionally, there are some exceptions to the treatment requirement. For example, if you cannot afford treatment or the proposed treatment plan is against your religion, you should make sure that the Social Security Administration knows about these extenuating circumstances.
Every detail on your Social Security disability application is important—including the information about your treatment plan. Before you apply, contact a board-certified lawyer to review your application and to make sure that your rights are protected. Please contact us any time via this website or by phone to learn more.
I’ve had a lung transplant. Am I eligible for Social Security disability?
A lung transplant is a big deal. You consented to the procedure because you hoped it would improve the quality of your life. However, you are also consenting to at least several days in the intensive care unit and a one to three week hospital stay. After that you will require close medical monitoring, lifelong immunosuppressant medications, and a lifetime care plan. You may be unable to work.
And You May Qualify for Social Security Disability
The Social Security Administration recognizes that a lung transplant can be disabling. Accordingly, pursuant to Section 3.11 of the Blue Book Listing of Impairments:
- You are considered disabled for three years beginning on the date of your transplant surgery. It is important to note that you may be considered disabled before you have transplant surgery if you qualify because of your respiratory disorder or in another way. If you were found eligible prior to surgery, then this will not impact the three year period during which you will be considered disabled after surgery.
- After the three year period, your residual impairments will be evaluated to determine if you remain disabled. According to Section 3.00M, the Social Security Administration will consider “the adequacy of your post-transplant function, the frequency and severity of any rejection episodes you have, complications in other body systems, and adverse treatment effects.”
Additionally, you may be found eligible in another way. Even if you do not meet the requirements of Section 3.11, you may be eligible for benefits if you meet another listing in the Listing of Impairments, if your condition is equal in severity to a listing in the Listing of Impairments, or if you lack the functional capacity to work.
Take the Necessary Steps to Protect Your Disability Benefits
Even though Section 3.11 is clear about the terms of eligibility after a lung transplant, you must still provide a compelling application for disability benefits together with all supporting medical documentation to the Social Security Administration. Our board certified attorneys can help you do that. For more information, please start a live chat with us now or download a free copy of our report, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know.
What can I do to increase the odds of getting my Social Security disability application approved if I’ve suffered a significant burn?
In order to have your application for Social Security disability benefits approved, you are going to have to prove that you have suffered a serious burn that prevents you from working. Since not all burn victims will qualify for disability benefits, it is important to understand what kinds of evidence may be helpful, how to complete your application, and how a Social Security disability lawyer can help you before you get started.
Gathering Evidence and Completing Your Application
Before you complete or submit an application for Social Security disability benefits, it is important to have supporting documentation. This includes the following medical information:
- Test results that determine which body systems have been affected by your burn
- Whether your burn is under continuing surgical management
- Whether you have suffered surgical complications
- Whether you have suffered other complications or related illnesses
- A description of the effects of your burn on your ability to work or go about your daily activities
Additionally, you should submit any non-medical documentation you have that supports your application. This could include information from your last employer about the days you missed due to your burn injuries or any other information about how the burn impacts your life.
When you fill out your application, it is important to be honest and to make sure that you are fully answering every question asked by the Social Security Administration. Any discrepancies within your application or incomplete answers could result in a denial of your application.
You Don’t Have to Do Any of This Alone
It can be difficult to know that every piece of paper you submit (or you don’t submit) and every word you write (or you don’t write) can have a significant effect on your Social Security disability eligibility determination. You have a lot at stake and you don’t want to forego the benefits you’ve earned because of a technicality. Accordingly, it is important to contact an experienced Social Security disability lawyer who knows what evidence the Social Security Administration is looking for and who knows how to complete compelling Social Security disability applications.
To learn more about your rights and about how a Social Security disability lawyer can help you, please read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know, and contact us today for a confidential consultation.
I want to do some volunteer work. Will it impact my Social Security disability eligibility if I do unpaid work while receiving benefits?
You ask an important question. You may be unable to work a regular job, but you may still want to contribute to your community or to your family as best you can. Accordingly, you may decide to do some volunteer work or to help family or friends with childcare or eldercare responsibilities. Either arrangement may be much more flexible than a paying job and allow you the time and freedom that you need to take care of your health issues.
However, before you sign up for volunteer work or offer to take care of a relative or friend, it is important to consider two things:
- How much time will you be giving to these volunteer activities? If the time approaches full time work or if you are on a rigid schedule then the only difference between volunteer work and a job may be the lack of pay you receive. However, if you have a lot of flexibility in hours and you only work a few hours a week then your volunteer work may be significantly different than paid employment.
- What tasks will you be performing? It is important that your tasks do not conflict with the information that you provided the Social Security Administration.
Volunteer work has a lot of benefits. It can provide you with a reason to leave the house, with social opportunities, and with a sense of purpose. However, the Social Security Administration is concerned with whether you have the ability to earn an income. If you volunteer many hours a week and perform many of the same tasks that are required in a paying job then it could impact your eligibility.
It is important to discuss your volunteer activities with your Social Security disability lawyer so that you can have a full understanding of how they could impact your Social Security disability eligibility. To learn more about your specific situation, please contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.