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Midwest Social Security Disability Law Blog

Who do Social Security benefits support?

There are a few different kinds of Social Security benefits available today. Of them, retirement benefits are probably the best understood, while the payments made to children or the disabled are less commonly discussed.

Social Security is not just for retired workers, although it's presented as if it's a kind of retirement fund. Social Security is actually there for disabled individuals, children, widows and widowers and others. Children, for instance, may be entitled to benefits if a parent is killed or suffers a disability. The children and surviving spouse may both be entitled to that compensation.

You can seek compensation after a work-related injury

Social Security Disability (SSD) and workers' compensation have differences that are important to understand as someone who may need to use either of these sources of benefits. Workers' compensation can help you get the compensation you need after a workplace accident. Comparatively, SSD begins to provide income to you after you are incapable of returning to work due to a disability.

The main difference between the two forms of payments is that workers' compensation covers any injuries that your employer would be liable for. For example, if you fall and hit your head at work, your employer would be liable for that injury. That makes it possible for you to make a workers' compensation claim.

Social Security Disability: Threatened by 2023

Social Security Disability (SSD) is supposed to be there for those who are unable to work due to their injuries or because of preexisting health conditions. Sadly, by 2027, it's the current presidential administration's plan to cut the funding of Social Security Disability Insurance by 5 percent.

That cut may not seem like much, but it could mean millions that doesn't go to the people who need it. SSDI grew under the Obama Administration. In fact, today, the number of people on disability has actually fallen.

You can fight for the Social Security Disability you deserve

When you want to seek out Social Security Disability (SSD), the Social Security Administration (SSA) needs to determine if you qualify as disabled. While you may physically or mentally present as disabled in your everyday life, it's important that you show your disability through the correct documentation when submitting your application.

One of the first things the SSA asks is if you are working. If you can work and provide for yourself, it's unlikely that the SSA will grant your request for SSD. If you can work but on a limited scope, you may still qualify in some circumstances.

Working and Social Security Disability

The relationship between work activity and receiving SSA disability benefits is complex. In order to be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity ("SGA"). This amount nominally increases each year. In 2017, if a non-blind individual is earning $1170 gross per month on an ongoing basis, SSA's position is that the individual's conditions are not 'severe' enough to impact his or her ability to work. Keep in mind SSA is not setting an income amount that an individual can necessarily live off. The SGA income limit is intentionally low, because Congress intended SSA disability to be for individuals who are significantly impaired and unable to work.

Failure to Follow Prescribed Treatment: The Importance of Compliance

It is very important to comply with prescribed treatment for your conditions. SSA will agree that your conditions or symptoms are worse when you are not doing the things your treating providers recommend; however, it is harder to be approved if you are not compliant with treatment. This is particularly important in cases with conditions that are expected to be amenable to treatment. Diabetes and epilepsy are two major impairments where SSA evaluates an individual's compliance with prescribed treatment. In general, a seizure disorder is expected to be well-controlled if an individual takes their anti-epileptic medications as prescribed. Similarly, blood sugars and A1C levels have a better chance of being well-controlled when an individual follows a diabetic diet, and takes insulin or diabetic medications as prescribed.

Do You Need a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability?

Many applicants for Social Security Disability benefits find the application process to be frustrating and overwhelming, especially when they are initially denied. If you have filed a claim for benefits, you have the right to counsel under the Administrative Procedure Act §6(a), 5 U.S.C. §1005(a). Hiring an attorney can help demystify the process, ensure fairness, and even improve your chances of approval at the hearing level.


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