What Are “Credits” And How Do They Affect My Application For Social Security Disability Benefits?

Credits are a key factor in determining your eligibility for Social Security disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) determines your credits by looking at your work history to determine if you have worked long enough and if you have paid enough into the Social Security system to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. If you do not have enough credits, you will not be able to receive Social Security disability benefits even if you are completely disabled.

How You Earn Credits

Your work credits accumulate through the year based on the income you earn and the taxes you pay. Any income you earn from self-employment will be included in your credits as long as you paid Social Security taxes on that income.

You can earn up to a maximum of four credits in one year. The amount of money you need to earn to get one credit can change annually. For example, in 2016 you can earn one Social Security credit for every $1,260 you earn and pay taxes on. Thus, if you earned $5,040 in 2016 then you earned the maximum four credits that you could earn in one year.

The way work credits are earned are the same for everyone. However, the number of credits you need to qualify for Social Security disability is not the same for all workers.

How Many Credits Do You Need to Get Social Security Disability Benefits?

Most people need 40 work credits in order to get Social Security disability and 20 of those credits must have been earned in the last ten years. However, exceptions to the work credit requirements do exist for younger workers who have not yet had time to work long enough to acquire the minimum number of work credits.

To learn more about work credits and whether you qualify for Social Security disability, we encourage you to read our FREE book, Social Security Disability: What You Need to Know,and to contact us via this website or by phone to schedule an initial consultation with an experienced attorney.

What Should I Know About The Board Of Veterans’ Appeals If I Disagree With My Disability Rating Or If My Request For Disability Benefits Has Been Denied?

When you receive a decision from your regional Veterans Affairs (VA) office regarding your veterans’ disability rating and benefits, you may not be pleased with the decision. Perhaps the VA did not understand the extent of your disability or maybe your request for disability was denied. If you believe an error was made when deciding your claim, you have the option of presenting your case in front of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals.

What You Should Know Before You File an Appeal

The Board of Veterans’ Appeals is established by federal law (38 United States Code (U.S.C.) § 7101(a)) to conduct hearings and decide appeals when disputes over veterans benefits arise.

Known as the BVA—or simply the Board—the Board of Veterans’ Appeals is made up of a panel of judges who are attorneys with experience in veterans’ law and claims review. While the BVA is located in Washington, DC, it is possible to meet with a board member at a regional VA office or through a video conferencing option. There are multiple locations available for video hearings across the country, and video hearings may speed up your appeals process.

In order to have your claim heard by the BVA, you must take specific steps to file an appeal. Specifically, you should:

  • File a Notice of Disagreement with your local VA office. This should explain why you believe an error has been made.
  • Complete a Substantive Appeal Form 9. This form will be sent to you by the VA office and must be completed in order for a personal hearing to be granted.

Appealing your veterans’ disability claim can be overwhelming and confusing, especially when you are also struggling to live with a disability. At Morgan & Weisbrod, our VA disability lawyers can help you navigate the process and represent you during your hearing. Contact us today to learn more.

Can I Receive Veterans’ Disability Benefits While In Prison?

In some situations, you may be able to receive veterans’ disability benefits while you are in a federal, state, or local prison or jail. However, whether you can continue to receive benefits and the amount of benefits that you may be eligible to receive depends on why you are incarcerated.

What You Need to Know if You are Facing Jail Time

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs:

  • Your veterans’ disability benefits will only be reduced if you are convicted of a felony and in jail or prison for 60 days or longer.
  • If you are convicted of a felony and imprisoned for 60 days or longer, your veterans’ disability benefits will be reduced. If you have a disability rating of 20% or more, you will be reduced to the 10% disability rating. If you have a disability rating of 10%, your benefits will be reduced by half.
  • Some benefits may be apportioned to your spouse, your children, or your dependents during this time depending on their need and the other details of your situation.

It is important to remember that there should be no change in your benefits if you are:

  • Convicted of a misdemeanor
  • Sentenced to fewer than 60 days in prison
  • Sentenced to a work release program, a residential re-entry center, or community control

It is also important to be prepared for the end of your prison term.

What Happens When You Are Released?

If you are released from prison, your VA disability benefits can be restored beginning on the first day of your release as long as the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is notified of your release within a year. You may receive full veterans’ disability benefits even if you are in a work release program, living in a halfway house, or on parole. The amount of your benefits will be based on the severity of your disability at the time you are released.

Are you getting the VA disability benefits you deserve? Contact an experienced and attentive disability attorney at Morgan & Weisbrod today to make sure you are getting the benefits you have earned. Our lawyers can help you understand your rights as well as which steps you can take immediately to protect your rights.

Do I Need To Pay Taxes On My Veterans’ Disability Benefits?

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), disability benefits received from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) should not be included with your gross income on your federal tax returns. These benefits are specifically excluded by federal law. Additionally, Texas does not currently have a state income tax so your disability benefits will not be subject to state income tax if you reside in Texas.

Other Veterans’ Disability Benefits Are Also Excluded From Your General Income

Your monthly veterans’ disability benefits are not the only veterans’ disability benefits that are excluded from your general income for tax purposes. Other federal veterans’ benefits that are not taxable include:

  • Grants to make your home wheelchair accessible
  • Grants for vehicles that need to be modified because of your disability
  • The proceeds of a veterans’ endowment policy
  • Veterans’ dependent care assistance program benefits
  • Survivor’s death gratuity payments
  • Work therapy program payments made or compensated by the Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Sustenance allowances
  • Education and training compensation

Any other disability benefits you receive through programs that are not run by the Department of Veterans Affairs may be subject to different tax rules.

Pay What You Owe

As a veteran of the United States armed services, you deserve to get all of the benefits to which you are legally entitled. This includes the full amount of disability benefits for which you qualify. You should not subject yourself to paying more in taxes than you legally owe unless you wish to do so voluntarily.

If you have any questions about state or federal tax liability for your veterans’ disability benefits, it is important to speak to your accountant directly. Similarly, if you have any questions about your eligibility for veterans’ disability benefits, you should speak to an experienced Texas disability lawyer at Morgan & Weisbrod. Please contact us via this website or by phone to schedule a meeting and to make sure you get the fair benefits you deserve.

How Many Times Can I Appeal My Social Security Disability Claim?

Generally, there are four different levels of appeal when it comes to your Social Security disability claim. You may have the right to appeal your Social Security disability claim in a:

  1. Request for consideration
  2. Administrative law judge hearing
  3. Appeals Council proceeding
  4. Federal Court review

Although this means, in theory, that you have four different opportunities to appeal your case, it does not necessarily mean that you can or should appeal at each level. In most cases, claimants who have their initial appeal denied will appeal twice: they will file a request for consideration (the Social Security Administration (SSA) only grants about five percent of these requests), and they will go to an administrative law judge hearing.

The Appeals Council selects disability claim cases to review—and often it chooses cases in which an interesting issue is raised or in which substantial evidence has come to light. Only a handful of cases find success at this level.

After the Appeals Council, you may file a lawsuit against the SSA in federal court. Although this option gives you a better chance at success than the Appeals Council, it can be a long and possibly expensive process.

Make the Social Security Disability Appeals Decisions That Benefit You

Your aim should be to appeal as few times as possible because your ultimate goal is to get the fair Social Security disability benefits you deserve quickly. Thus, it is important to put in as much work as you can to get your application approved the first time or at the next level of appeal so that you can avoid the time, the expense, and the frustration of further appeals.

To find out more about the appeals that you should file and about how to protect your rights, please contact a board certified disability lawyer today for more information. We will help you make the right decisions about your claim.

Can I Qualify For Veterans’ Disability Benefits If I Served In The National Guard?

Yes, you may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits if you were in the National Guard and you were hurt during active duty. A member of the National Guard is considered to be on active duty if the member is serving:

  • During a national emergency
  • During an international conflict
  • By participating in basic combat training
  • By participating in advanced individual training
  • By participating in annual training
  • By participating in active duty training
  • By participating in weekend drills

Recent examples of National Guard members being called into active duty include the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and Hurricane Katrina.

You Must Qualify for Benefits

It is important to note that although those in the National Guard who are injured during active duty can receive veterans’ disability benefits, each individual case is different and each case must also meet the requirements of any other veterans’ disability claim. For example, your claim must prove that your condition was caused by or exacerbated by your active duty and you must not have been dishonorably discharged.

Are National Guard Members Treated Fairly?

According to recent data collected through the Freedom of Information Act, it is significantly harder for National Guard members and reservists to receive veterans’ disability benefits than it is for other service members. The data shows that reservists who served in Iraq and Afghanistan after 9/11 were four times more likely to be denied benefits than active duty military members.

Out of approximately 70,000 military men and women who have been denied VA disability payments, 60 percent of denials were issued to National Guard members and reservists, even though this segment makes up only 40 percent of the veteran population.

Talk to a Disability Lawyer About Your Rights

In order to know if you should apply for veterans’ disability benefits, please contact a Texas disability benefits attorney about the details of your case and your history in the National Guard. Morgan & Weisbrod offers all veterans a free, private meeting in which you can discuss your disability and your plan for the future. Call today for more information.

Can I Get Veterans’ Disability Benefits If I Was Dishonorably Discharged?

Veterans’ disability benefits are generally only available to veterans who were discharged under other than dishonorable conditions. In other words, you may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits if you received an honorable discharge or a general discharge from the military, but you are not eligible if you received a dishonorable discharge.

Dishonorable Discharges May be Appealed

A dishonorable discharge is only handed down to those who have been court-martialed for a serious offense, such as desertion or assault. It is possible to appeal your dishonorable discharge and perhaps get it downgraded to a different type of administrative discharge—even a few years after your military service ends. If you believe that your dishonorable discharge is incorrect, you should take action to protect your rights and any veterans’ benefits that may be rightfully available to you.

You Don’t Need an Honorable Discharge to Get Veterans’ Disability Benefits

You may be eligible for veterans’ disability benefits if you received a bad conduct discharge (BCD) or an other-than-honorable discharge (OTH). In these two cases, you may wish to speak to a veterans’ disability attorney about your case. While some former service members have successfully fought for VA disability benefits despite an OTH discharge, others have been denied. Your case may depend on the reason for your discharge and whether it was related to your physical and mental health issues at the time.

Don’t Delay Getting Help With a Veterans’ Disability Claim

Veterans’ disability benefits can have a significant impact on your future. If you think you may qualify for such benefits, or if you have questions about your eligibility for veterans’ disability benefits, we encourage you to contact an experienced disability lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case and to make sure your rights are protected. Please call us today or reach out to us via this website for additional information.

Can I Receive Social Security Disability Benefits And Veterans’ Disability Benefits?

Yes, you can receive both Social Security disability benefits and veterans’ disability benefits at the same time assuming that you qualify for both types of benefits. Income, assets, and financial need are irrelevant to your claims for both Social Security disability and veterans’ disability benefits. Instead, Social Security disability insurance benefits are based on your work history and veterans’ disability compensation is based on your military service.

Social Security Disability Eligibility

In order to receive Social Security disability benefits, you must:

  • Have a medical condition that significantly impacts your ability to work and that keeps you from making enough money to be engaged in substantial gainful activity.
  • The condition must have already lasted—or be expected to last—for one year or more or to result in your death.

Additionally, you must go through the Social Security disability application process and have your application approved.

Veterans’ Disability Eligibility

The veterans’ disability program has different eligibility requirements than the Social Security disability program. In order to receive veterans’ disability, you will need to prove that:

  • You are an active service member or a veteran who was not dishonorably discharged.
  • You suffered a medical condition that is connected to your service.

You must qualify for each program individually in order to receive both types of benefits. You may start to receive benefits from each program at different times. Likewise, you may have one type of benefit denied while the other type of benefit is approved.

Understanding disability benefits can be difficult—and making certain you are receiving all of the disability payments you and your family deserve is important. Speaking with a Texas disability benefits attorney can help you understand what benefits you may be eligible for, and whether you should apply for benefits from more than one program. Call the disability lawyers at Morgan & Weisbrod today to schedule a free, private appointment today to learn more about your rights.

Can I Receive Social Security Benefits If I Have Been Diagnosed With A Terminal Illness?

Yes, you can receive Social Security disability benefits if you have been diagnosed with a terminal illness and you meet the requirements of the Social Security disability program. In fact, your application for benefits may be expedited through the Social Security Administration’s terminal illness program known as TERI.

Are You Eligible for TERI?

According to the Social Security Administration, you may be eligible for TERI if you are diagnosed with “a medical condition that is untreatable and expected to result in death.” Some conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), may automatically classify your application as a TERI case. Other conditions that are often added to the TERI program include some forms of cancer, chronic heart failure, fatal genetic issues in newborns, and those on life-sustaining devices such as a ventilator.

You may claim that you have such a condition in your Social Security disability application, or the Disability Determination Services (DDS) may identify your application as a TERI case based on the content of your application.

DDS is not required to tell you that your case is being considered as a TERI case and is specifically instructed by the Social Security Administration not to use the word terminal in anything that is made available to you.

Who Makes Sure TERI Cases Are Expedited?

That is the responsibility of DDS management and the Social Security Administration’s field offices. DDS management is supposed to follow up on a TERI case every 10 days until an eligibility determination is made. If a determination is not made within 30 days, the field office should become involved.

If you are suffering from a terminal illness and you qualify for Social Security disability, you have the right to have your application expedited and to start receiving benefits as soon as possible. An experienced Social Security disability lawyer can help you get the benefits you deserve. Please contact us today to learn more.

When Is The Right Time To Apply For Veterans’ Disability Benefits?

The short answer to your question is that you should apply for veterans’ disability benefits as soon as possible so that you can begin getting the benefits you deserve.

However, before you apply for veterans’ disability benefits you need to know a few things, including whether you have suffered a service-related health condition, whether you are eligible for benefits, and how to prepare your application so that it can be approved.

Are You Eligible?

You are eligible for veterans’ disability benefits if you:

  • Served on active duty, were on active duty training, or were on inactive duty training.
  • Discharged for reasons other than dishonorable conditions.
  • Suffered at least a 10% disability because of something that occurred on active duty or in training.

Special rules do apply if you were hurt on inactive duty training, however.

Be Prepared Before You Apply

Before you submit your application, it is important to have all of the appropriate medical evidence from your health care providers and to know how to complete your application form. You need evidence to prove two things:

  • First, you need evidence to prove that you have a current physical or mental disability.
  • Second, you need evidence to prove the connection between your disability and your service. Under certain circumstances, the connection may be presumed based on where and when you served.

If you follow all of the directions and provide all of the necessary documentation, you may be able to have your benefit request approved without going through the appeals process.

Don’t Wait to Take Action

You can begin protecting your rights today. Browse our free videos and articles to learn more about veterans’ disability benefits and contact an experienced veterans’ disability lawyer directly to discuss your claim and how to get started with your application. In our first confidential meeting, we will review your potential claim with you, we will answer your questions, and we will talk about the steps you can take next. Call us or reach out to us through this website to learn more at any time.

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