CAN I WORK AND STILL COLLECT SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BENEFITS?

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“Can I work and still get Social Security disability?” It’s a good question and one that is often asked. Because it takes so long to resolve disability claims, many people consider returning to work in order to meet their financial obligations.

8 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security DisabilityBut there are facts you need to know before making that decision, caution the authors of Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits, because working can definitely affect your eligibility for disability benefits.

Social Security pays monthly disability benefits to you and to certain members of your family if:

  • You have worked long enough to qualify and
  • You have a medical condition that has prevented you from working and
  • Your condition is expected to prevent you from working for at least 12 months or
  • Your condition is expected to end in death.

The difficulty of qualifying for benefits and the issue of long delays are described on the Social Security website: 

“Claims for disability benefits take more time to process than other types of Social Security claims – from three to five months.”

You can help shorten the process by collecting all necessary documents and evidence ahead of applying, the website urges. That documentation includes:

  • Social Security number and proof of age
  • Names and dosages of all medications you’re taking
  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of doctors, caseworkers, hospitals, and clinics that took care of you, along with the dates of your visits to each
  • Medical records from every doctor, therapist, hospital, clinic, and caseworker
  • Lab and test results
  • Summary of where you worked before becoming disabled and the kind of work you didWalker
  • Your most recent W-2 tax form (if you were self-employed, a copy of your federal tax return)

Studies show that a 20-year-old worker has a three in ten chance of becoming disabled before reaching retirement age. In fact, millions of Americans receive monthly disability checks from the Social Security Administration. Typically, those checks are the only source of income those disabled people have.

There are two main types of Social Security disability benefits. You must be medically disabled to qualify for either program, but the financial qualifications of each program differ significantly:

  • DIB (Disability Insurance Benefits) is a program for people who have been employed sufficiently long to qualify for benefits. The benefit amount depends on how much you earned while you were working.
  • SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a needs-based program and benefits depend on your need for help –having too much money in savings or too much household income could disqualify you. People who have never worked are able to qualify for SSI if they meet the medical and resource limit requirements.

Even after learning about those millions of people collecting benefits because of a disability, you should be aware of a very disturbing truth about Social Security disability benefits. You may as well know about that truth upfront:

Every single year, thousands of disabled Americans file for benefits and the majority of those claims are rejected. It’s not that people don’t need the help; many applicants deserve benefits, they simply do not know how the system works and how to work within that system.

Many of the mistakes applicants make lead right back to that question we mentioned earlier: “Can I work and still get Social Security disability?”

  • Your mental or physical condition must meet specific criteria that qualify it as “severe.” In other Wrong Waywords, your condition must be serious enough to prevent you from working and must be serious enough to disrupt your daily functioning.

 

  • You must not be engaging in “substantial gainful activity” or SGA. If you work and exceed the amount of money that Social Security sets as the benchmark amount, you’re engaging in SGA and you may find it difficult to gain eligibility for benefits. In 2016, SGA means you’re working and making more than $1,130 per month or $1,820 if you’re blind. Those are gross income amounts, meaning your income before taxes and other deductions.

As disability attorneys, we’ve come to the conclusion that there are eight primary mistakes people make when filing for disability benefits through Social Security:

  1. Failing to get – and to document – medical treatment (in many states it’s possible to be approved for Medicaid health insurance without needing disability approval from Social Security so that you can receive needed medical treatment)
  2. Failing to take prescribed medication
  3. Abusing alcohol or tobacco or using illegal drugs
  4. Waiting too long to apply for benefits
  5. Not appealing a denial or delaying past the 60-day appeal period
  6. Exaggerating your condition or making false or inconsistent statements
  7. Failing to keep documentation
  8. Not hiring an attorney (most Social Security disability attorneys work on contingency basis, getting paid only if you win your case)

Even if you are careful not to make any of these eight mistakes, it’s very possible that the first time around, the Social Security Administration will deny your application for benefits. It’s important to file an appeal and not give up. The first appeal is called a Request for Reconsideration, and, sad to tell, most people are denied a second time.

You then have the option of requesting a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge. It can take a long time – months and even years – for a hearing to be scheduled, due to the fact that there is a huge backlog of cases and not enough judges. However, statistics show that the majority of people who follow through with the appeal process ultimately are approved for benefits.

Is there nothing you and your disability attorney can do to speed up your Social Security disability claim? You may consider writing a letter to your Congressman and Senator, asking them to contact Social Security on your behalf.

It’s terribly frustrating, but even after the hearing has taken place, there may be another delay before a decision is issued.

If you’re not working, how are you supposed to survive workersfinancially through the long, long process of qualifying for DIB or SSI benefits?

  • Apply for rent and utility assistance through the township trustee’s office
  • Utilize the services of food pantries and charitable organizations

Can you work and still get Social Security disability? Surely you would make more money working full time than you would get from Social Security disability benefits. Know, though, that working will definitely have an effect on your claim. Ironically, if you try to go back to work and soon after realize your medical condition will not allow you to continue, that unsuccessful work attempt can serve as evidence of your need for benefits.

Hensley Legal Group Named 2016 Top Workplace

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We are excited to announce that Hensley Legal Group, PC was named as a 2016 Top Workplace by Star Media, WorkplaceDynamics’ local publishing partner.
Top Work Places 2016

If you want to know everything worth knowing about a company, ask the people who work there.

That’s precisely the mantra of WorkplaceDynamics, LLP, a leading research firm that focuses on organizational health and employee engagement. More than 5,000 organizations have turned to WorkplaceDynamics’ Employee Engagement Survey to help them better understand how they are perceived by their own employees.

This year there were 90 Central Indiana companies identified by the survey as Top Workplaces, an increase of five companies over 2015. In the category of Top Small Companies, HLG was listed as #33.

WorkplaceDynamics uses a questionnaire with statements on which employees offer responses on a seven-point scale ranging from “strongly agree” to “strongly disagree.”  The survey measures four general categories:

  • Company basics
  • Organizational health
  • Leadership
  • Engagement

“This is a great honor for all of us and for HLG!” Melissa Hartsock enthused with her colleagues upon learning of the repeated honor accorded to HLG. “We do truly work very hard to make this a workplace that you all enjoy coming to every day.”

What employees say

HLG Staff 2015“I am surrounded by people who care about their jobs, their clients, themselves, and me. I am constantly inspired.”

“I love my co-workers. We all get along and enjoy working with and helping each other.”

“I work in an environment that promotes positivity, teamwork, individuality, volunteering and, most of all, family. ”

“The care you feel here is a big reason. Our boss cares for us, we care for one another and we all care for our clients, and subsequently the client(s) really feel that we care about them. ”

“Opportunity and environment. ”

“An attitude survey can best be described as an instrument that attempts to determine employee perceptions of their working environment,” writes John Faure of the Society for Human Resource Management. “Most HR professionals will agree that employee productivity is strongly linked to their perception of their environment and, as the saying goes, perception is reality,” he adds.

Surveys can reveal:

  • Quality of management
  • Effectiveness of compensation and benefits programs
  • Organizational communications issues
  • Safety and health concerns

It’s a special, special honor when employees of any organization express their commitment to their jobs and share their workplace satisfaction.  That honor is even more special when it comes from the employees of a personal injury law firm, where, by definition, clients’ personal tragedies are woven into the work; heartaches, pain and suffering are the stuff of every hour of every workday. We are a helping profession.

In personal injury cases, weeks and months may pass while negotiations take place. During those weeks of waiting, will the clients need ongoing medical care or therapy? Will they be able to return to the full earning power they had before the accident? Our clients are often in a bad situation and must be treated with care.

Employees of our law firm must have the interpersonal skills to hold conversations with every personality type and must be able to inspire trust.  Good listeners? Our employees have to be that and much more. After all, Hensley Legal Group represents individuals and families whose lives have been changed for the worse through no fault of their own.  Perhaps more than at any other time in their lives, those clients need someone to listen and really hear what they are feeling.

Yes, of course we are excited to announce that Hensley Legal Group, PC was named as one of the 2016 Top Workplaces by Star Media as a result of the latest WorkplaceDynamics’ Employee Engagement Survey.  But it’s a special, special honor when it comes from our employees.

Social Security Turns 80 This Month

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Social Security is celebrating its 80th birthday this August.  As is common during any public celebration nowadays, there are always going to be those in the crowd turning the event into a platform to scrutinize the subject.

Social Security has taken a lot of heat politically in the past few years, as anybody even casually watching the news would know.  Numerous politicians have questioned the long-term solvency of the Social Security retirement and disability programs.  Even the writers of House of Cards have seemed to chime in during its third season, with the main character, democratic president Frank Underwood, trying to remove the Social Security structure entirely by replacing it with a program that would instead provide jobs to those unsuccessfully seeking employment. Social Security Birthday Cake

While the writers of House of Cards might not have been attempting to stir any actual political ideas with the plot line, as Frank Underwood would say, it’s a question worth asking. Does Social Security have issues?  Sure, but every federal agency has room for improvement.  Even Social Security’s own actuary tables would indicate that it might be about time for it to seek some assistance and be open to modifications.  But the frequent portrayal that the sky is falling on the Social Security system is a typical attempt to induce panic for self-interested gains instead of a full, transparent disclosure and open discussion of the facts on the matter.

The solvency of Social Security is a definite concern, but the reason that the system is facing such a major issue should also point to issues outside the agency.  The question then becomes:  is the solvency of the Social Security system at stake because it is being forced to externalize the costs of other poor policies that have been promoted in the past 80 years since its birth?  Does Social Security actually need a huge overhaul, or could other policies outside the agency change and in turn help set Social Security back onto a solvent path?  These, too, are questions worth asking.

In the meantime, let’s instead get back to celebrating and appreciate all that Social Security has done to help provide stability to the millions who have depended on it over the years.  What is important to keep in mind is that by providing direct stability to those who need it most, Social Security has provided indirect stability to those who don’t think they need it at all.  That’s because a society without an appropriate social safety net will eventually lead to a mass of citizens whose main concern focuses on survival rather than social order.  Needless to say, that’s when bad things happen.

As we reach America’s 239th year we should take a moment to celebrate Social Security’s birthday, because the former might not have survived without the latter, and after all, the two are family.  If everyone can at least for a moment acknowledge the benefits Social Security provides, then we’re all much more likely to work towards a creative solution to ensuring its longevity.  Its 80th birthday is the perfect time for that to happen.

Spine Disorders That May Qualify for Social Security Disability in Indiana

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You could be eligible to receive Indiana SSI or SSDI benefits if your functional abilities are severely limited and you can no longer work. To learn if you are entitled to Social Security disability benefits, you should speak with a disability attorney in Indianapolis. An attorney can evaluate your case to determine if you are eligible.

One category found under the musculoskeletal listing of impairments is disorders of the spine. If you meet Social Security Administration’s (SSA) criteria, you could be entitled to disability benefits.

These spine disorders may qualify for Social Security disability:
 

  • vertebral fracture;
  • herniated nucleus pulposus;
  • facet arthritis;
  • spinal arachnoiditis;
  • osteoarthritis;
  • spinal stenosis; and
  • degenerative disc disease.

These spine disorders must also result in the nerve root or the spinal cord being compromised.

When you are suffering from a severe medical condition or injury related to the musculoskeletal system, Indiana SSI and SSDI benefits may be available. To learn if you qualify and how you can improve your chance at having your application for disability benefits approved, you should speak with a disability attorney in Indianapolis as soon as possible.

A Helping Hand from Disability Attorney in Indianapolis

When you have complications with your Social Security disability benefits claim, the help of a disability attorney in Indianapolis is crucial to getting the assistance you need. In order to get back on track with your Social Security benefits claim, order a copy of our complimentary book, 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits, then contact a Social Security attorney at the Hensley Legal Group for a no-cost consultation – (317) 472-3333.

Extension of Trial Work Period in Your Indiana Social Security Disability Case

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Although you may receive Social Security disability benefits, you could be required to engage in a trial work period, which tests your ability to work. Your benefits will not stop at this time. If you have questions concerning your claim, then you may need help from a Social Security disability lawyer.

Once you have completed the trial work period, if your disability benefits end because you were able to work at the substantial gainful activity (SGA), your benefits may be automatically reinstated.
You won’t even need to fill out a new application.

However, this can only happen if your earnings drop below the SGA level during any month. The reinstatement will extend for 36 consecutive months, after you have completed the trial work period. In addition to your earnings falling under the SGA level for any particular month, it must also be demonstrated that you continue to have a disabling impairment.

An attorney in Indiana, particularly Indianapolis, who handles Social Security disability claims, can help if you have concerns or questions about your ability to engage in a trial work period while disabled. Or if your application for disability benefits was denied, then an attorney can also help.

A Helping Hand from a Social Security Disability Lawyer

When you have complications with your Social Security disability benefits claim, the help of an attorney in Indianapolis, Indiana, is crucial to getting the assistance you need. In order to get back on track with your Social Security benefits claim, order a copy of our complimentary book, 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits, then contact a Social Security attorney at the Hensley Legal Group for a no-cost consultation at (317) 472-3333.

Waiting for Social Security Disability Benefits in Indianapolis

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When you’ve become disabled and are unable to perform your job to the best of your ability or are left out of your job completely, you may need to apply for Social Security disability benefits. Considering your impairment may leave you without your annual income, you may want to acquire the assistance of a Social Security disability attorney in Indianapolis.

Waiting for Your Social Security Claim to be Approved

It can take your claim an average of 3-5 months just to be approved
. The process as a whole may seem to take forever, considering you have to fill out forms and gather documents that show you’re disabled from work and how long your impairment will last. Once you get approved, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll start to receive benefits right away.

It can get tricky because no one knows what the future holds with your type of disability. They can only guess based on average statistics of the severity of your disability.  [Read more…]

Changes to Social Security List of Impairments Could Affect Your Claim

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In August 2010, the Social Security Administration posted changes to its listing of impairments. This is important for those seeking Social Security disability benefits because it may open up eligibility for those who may previously have been denied.

The changes to Social Security’s listing of impairments deal with speech and other special senses, such as sight and hearing.
The most up-to-date version of the listing is also helpful because it includes the medical evidence that will be required for those seeking Social Security disability benefits for these conditions.

[Read more…]