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Should I File for Social Security Disability or Keep Working?

Posted on Friday, March 7, 2014
Blog, Social Security Disability

For many, the decision to file for Florida Social Security Disability is an easy one. In many scenarios, it is clear that an injury or illness is critical enough to severely impair everyday activities. In other cases, however,  a medical condition may come and go. It could even be the treatment itself that makes work difficult. If you’re affected by such a condition, you may be wondering whether or not you should file for disability. Here are some things you should think about before making your decision.

How supportive is your physician?

No matter what condition you suffer from, becoming approved for disability will be extremely difficult if you don’t have support from your doctor. Talk with your physician ahead of time in order to determine what he or she is likely to say to the Social Security Administration when interviewed.

What’s in your medical records?

The Social Security Administration will not only want to know what your doctor thinks; they’ll also want to review your medical records. You have the right to obtain copies of all your medical records, so secure them and read them thoroughly to see what’s recorded. Think about whether or not the evidence in your record would support your claim of disability in addition to making sure that all your symptoms have been appropriately documented.

What resources do you have?

The amount of money you can draw in the way of Social Security disability benefits will likely be significantly less than what you would make if you continued working. Think about whether or not you will be able to live on that amount when making your decision, and then look at ways you could cut back in order to make ends meet. Talk with your spouse about the possible changes to make sure you are both in agreement.

How will you handle not working?

Many people find work to be somewhat therapeutic, even if it is stressful at times. If you were prohibited from working, what meaningful activity would you fill your time with? Of course, a great deal of these decisions do depend on your health; however, by trying to remain active, you’ll likely be helping your condition more than if you were idle.

By taking all these questions into consideration, you’ll be able to make an informed choice as to whether or not you should file for disability. Should you decide to move forward with your claim, feel free to contact us for assistance in filing.

Are You Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?

Posted on Friday, February 7, 2014
Blog, Social Security Disability

According to an informational pamphlet from the Social Security Administration, studies indicate that 3 in 10 people will become disabled before reaching full retirement age. In order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, one must have a medical condition, either physical or mental, that is expected to last at least a year or result in death and renders him or her unable to work.

For the purpose of disability benefits eligibility, the Social Security Administration considers “work” to be “substantial gainful activity.” One whose income from working falls below a certain amount that is set by the SSA each year would not be considered to be engaging in substantial gainful activity and may still qualify for the benefits. Currently, the amount that is considered to be substantial gainful activity in 2014 for non-blind individuals is $1,070 per month. For blind individuals, that amount is $1,800.

Additionally, because social security is essentially an insurance program for people who are working and paying for the benefits via their taxes, the person must have a work history that qualifies him or her based on two “tests.”

The Recent Work Test is based on the age you became disabled and how long you worked in the years immediately preceding that time. The time you’re required to work in order to qualify for SSDI benefits according to the Recent Work Test is determined on calendar quarters. For example, if you became disabled in or before the quarter you turned 24, you would need 1.5 years of work experience in the previous three years ending in the quarter your disability began, the pamphlet explained.

The Duration of Work Test considers how long the individual worked — whether recent or not — and whether it was long enough to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. If one became disabled before age 28, for example, he or she would qualify for benefits under the Duration of Work Test with 1.5 years of work, whether recent or not.

Most applications for Social Security Disability benefits are denied on the first try because applicants are unable to prove that they are totally disabled and unable to be gainfully employed. If you feel that you meet the disability and work history requirements for benefits and need help applying, the law firm of DDB Law would be happy to assist you in that application process. In addition, if you have applied and have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, we may be able to assist you in the appeals process. For more information, contact our SSDI attorneys for a review of your case.

Can My Social Security Disability Interfere with My Workers’ Comp Benefits?

Posted on Friday, December 6, 2013
Blog, Social Security Disability, Workers' Compensation

If you were injured in the workplace, it’s possible to qualify for disability benefits other than workers’ comp. For instance, if your injury has caused long-term impairments lasting more than a year, you could also qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. But with the exception of private sources, there is a limit to how much money you can receive.

The maximum combination of your benefits from Social Security and workers’ compensation cannot exceed more than 80% of your average monthly pre-disability earnings. In the majority of states, the excess will be subtracted from your Social Security benefits. Florida, however, is one of a handful of states that practices a “reverse-offset.” This means that Social Security Disability benefits remain untouched while workers’ comp payments are reduced until the 80% cap is met. Reductions are taken until workers’ comp benefits run out or the recipient turns 62 (whichever happens first). In Florida, the responsibility rests with the employers and their insurance carriers to prove their eligibility for a workers’ comp offset.

Are there any exceptions?

If your workers’ comp was payed out in a lump sum, it’s possible to prorate the settlement over a reasonable estimation of your life expectancy. Typically, this leads to a fairly low monthly payment that is less likely to supercede the 80% benefits cap. In all scenarios, however, the process can get fairly complex. To get the most out of your disability payments, it’s best to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who knows how to navigate both systems.

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