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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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