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You May Be Eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits!

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Wondering If You Qualify for Disability Benefits?

Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long, difficult process. It makes sense, then, that you’d want to figure out if you were a good candidate before going to the trouble of applying.

We’ve provided four basic questions that you can ask yourself to see if you may be a good candidate for benefits. However, it’s important to remember that these questions aren’t the final say on your eligibility. An Indiana disability attorney can answer your questions and help you explore your options much better than any website, ebook, or video ever can.

Hensley Legal Group’s disability attorneys have helped disabled individuals across the state of Indiana get the benefits they deserve. Let us put our experienced disability lawyers to work for you. Our Social Security disability lawyers can help if you are:

  • Applying for the first time
  • Reapplying after a denial
  • Appealing a rejected claim
  • In need of representation for a hearing

Your conversation with us is confidential, free, and has no strings attached. We can even meet with you at your home, place of business, or a neutral location convenient for you, so you can have your consultation with us face to face. We make it easy for you to get your questions answered so you can determine the best course of action for your specific claim.

Below are the four basic questions you can ask yourself to see if you may be a good candidate for Social Security disability benefits. If you think you may be eligible for benefits, be sure to download our free guide, Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits.

1. Do I Go to the Doctor for My Disability?

Seeking medical treatment is an important first step if you want to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. Unfortunately, Social Security can’t just take your word for it that you’re really disabled — they need verifiable evidence of your condition. The Social Security Administration (SSA) also needs proof that your disability won’t improve even if you do receive medical treatment, or that it won’t improve enough to allow you to return to work.

The easiest way to provide Social Security with the evidence they need is by continuing to see your doctor. Your medical records can provide official evidence that a) your disability exists, and b) medical treatment doesn’t improve your condition enough to allow you to work, if at all.

You won’t have to worry about gathering your medical records on your own and trying to determine which ones the SSA needs. If you hire an Indiana disability attorney, they can request your medical records to prepare for your hearing, and they can request records from previous visits that are relevant to your case.

Unfortunately, medical records aren’t free, so having a disability lawyer who knows which records the SSA truly needs can help you keep costs down. And, if you hire a disability lawyer from Hensley Legal Group, you won’t have to pay for any of your medical records unless and until you get approved for disability benefits. If you don’t get approved, our office won’t make you pay a single penny for the work we put into your case.

2. Does My Disability Prevent Me from Working?

Social Security disability benefits exist to provide assistance to those who cannot make ends meet due to their disability.

That means that Social Security’s definition of “disabled” is directly tied to a person’s ability to work. You may be medically disabled, but not “disabled” by Social Security’s definition. For example, you may have to use a wheelchair to move around. Even though you have a clear, medically-verifiable disability, you wouldn’t qualify for Social Security disability benefits unless your condition prevented you from working.

Many individuals with disabilities are able to continue working despite their conditions. If you’re able to work, Hensley Legal Group strongly encourages you to continue to do so. Typically, the income you’re able to make from working would be greater than a monthly Social Security disability benefit.

If you’re unable to work, however, or if you make less than a certain amount of money, you may be a good candidate for Social Security disability benefits. Social Security measures a person’s ability to work by a monetary amount known as substantial gainful activity (SGA). If you make a certain amount of money each month, then Social Security believes you’re able to provide for yourself, despite your disabling condition(s).

In 2018, SGA is equal to $1,180 a month for non-blind individuals and $1,970 for those who are statutorily blind. That means that, even if you’re able to work, you may still be a good candidate for Social Security disability benefits if you’re making fewer than $1,180 a month (or $1,970 a month if you’re blind).

 

3. Did I Work for Five of the Last 10 Years?

There are two programs Social Security offers to disabled individuals: disability insurance benefits (DIB) and supplemental security income (SSI). (DIB is also sometimes known as Social Security disability insurance, or SSDI).

Your work history has a great effect on which program may be right for you. To qualify for SSI, you don’t need any work history, but you do have to meet certain household income limitations. That’s why SSI is typically the best program for children, young adults, and anyone who has been unemployed for long stretches of time in their recent past.

To qualify for DIB, you must have worked at least five of the last 10 years. However, your household isn’t subject to any income limitations. That means that if you’re living with a spouse, roommate, or family member who is making more than SGA, your eligibility for DIB isn’t affected. Your personal income must be less than SGA, but your household income isn’t a factor in your eligibility.

The type of work you’ve done over the past 10 years may also affect your eligibility. In order to qualify for DIB, you’ll have to prove to the SSA that you can no longer do the type of work you’ve been trained for. You’ll also have to prove that you’re not able to do any work. For example, if you’ve been a waitress your entire life, but your disability prevents you from carrying heavy objects, remembering things, and walking, you could potentially argue that you’re unable to do any of the work you’ve been trained for. You’d then also have to argue that your disabilities prevent you from doing any work, like working as a supermarket greeter.

It can be difficult to know how your work history affects your eligibility for DIB or SSI. If you have questions, an Indiana disability lawyer may be able to help.

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4. Did I Have Social Security Taxes Taken Out of My Paycheck at My Last Job?

Social Security’s two programs have different funding sources. SSI is funded by general federal tax revenues. DIB, however, is funded by payroll taxes.

These payroll taxes are taken out of your paycheck and are allocated for Social Security. For most workers, Social Security taxes are taken out of their paychecks automatically. These taxes act kind of like how premiums act for your health insurance. Like a monthly premium, you pay these taxes on a regular basis (e.g., every time you receive a paycheck) to stay “insured” — hence why this program is called disability insurance benefits (or Social Security disability insurance). By paying these taxes, you maintain your option of withdrawing from this “insurance” if you ever become disabled and can no longer work.

However, these tax payments aren’t automatic for every worker. If your employer currently pays you “under the table,” then you aren’t paying any payroll taxes, which means you’re not insured for DIB. If you’re self-employed or you do some freelance work, it’s up to you to make sure you file your taxes appropriately so you pay Social Security taxes and remain insured for DIB.

Your “insurance” for DIB can also expire. That’s why it’s important that you’ve worked at least five of the past 10 years and that you paid payroll taxes during those years. For example, let’s say you’ve spent the past 20 years of your life as a waiter. From 2000-2005, you worked at a restaurant where payroll taxes were taken out of your paycheck. However, from 2006-2016, you worked at a restaurant that paid you “under the table,” and you didn’t pay any payroll taxes. Even though you had five good years where you were “insured,” it’s been more than 10 years since you paid payroll taxes, so your “insurance” from those five years has likely expired.

That’s also why it’s important to apply for disability benefits as soon as possible once your disability prevents you from working. If you remain unemployed for too many years due to your disability, your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits may expire.

 

Born and raised in central Indiana, John Hensley has always possessed an overwhelming desire to protect the rights of others and has devoted his practice to assisting those who have been wronged.

In 1998, John opened his own law office in downtown Indianapolis. Today, he and his team of Indiana disability attorneys work daily toward achieving the best results possible for their clients.

Our disability lawyers are known for their compassion for their clients. They continue to bring experience and integrity to the practice of law and represent their clients with determination, care, and skill.

Put the experience and skill of Hensley Legal Group on your side. Call today or contact us online for a free, confidential, no-obligation conversation about your disability claim. We’re available 24/7 to answer your questions.

Be sure to download our free ebook, Eight Mistakes to Avoid When Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits, for more information.

Explore our website to find blogs, articles, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions, all about Social Security disability.