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Important Information About Social Security Qualifications

The Social Security Administration has very strict qualifications for obtaining disability benefits. These include the following:

  • To be eligible for disability benefits, a person must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Your Condition/disability must be expected to last a minimum of 12 months and render you unable to engage in gainful activity. A person who is earning more than a certain monthly amount (net of impairment-related work expenses) is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. The amount of monthly earnings considered as SGA depends on the nature of a person’s disability.
  • You need to be currently treating with a doctor and on medications. If you have pain issues you would need to be on some kind of narcotic to reduce the pain, have had surgery, or have notes in your medical records as to Why you cannot take the medication. They don’t want to see someone on just an over-­the-counter pain reliever or muscle relaxant without reason why stronger medicine is not involved. If you are claiming that you are in too much pain or discomfort to work, Social Security expects you to be on the strongest type of medication, or that there is nothing medically anyone can do for you. Social Security does not care whether you do or do not have medical insurance. Also, you need to be treating with a physician; this cannot be a chiropractor or physical therapist.
  • If you have worked 5 out of the last 10 years full time and paid into Social Security during those years, Social Security will allow you to be working, but they also have strict restrictions on this as well. If you have earned your credits by working and paying into Social Security, then they will allow you to work a MAXIMUM of 20 hours a week and earn no more than $1000.00 a month before taxes. If you are unsure whether you have all the credits needed, please contact Social Security by phone at 1-800- 772-1213 and ask them how many work credits you have. If it is under 40 credits, see below.
  • If you have not Worked 5 out of the last 10 years and/or have not paid into social security and have not earned your credits, the only program you may be eligible for is an income based program and under this program you are not allowed to work.

    Under this plan: For every $1.00 you earn Social Security will deduct that amount from the monthly check you were to be awarded, and, if you earned more than your award (average check $697.00), then you will not be eligible receive the benefit. If this happens several months in a row, you may be removed from receiving benefits.

Remember: Social Security does not pay short term disability benefits. It is all or nothing. If they cannot determine that you would not be able to work for the rest of your life you will be denied

Now that you have a little understanding of Social Security eligibility guidelines, you also need to understand the timeline for applying for benefits. It may take as long as 2 years from the initial application to being awarded benefits, and this is with a lawyer on your side. If you are applying on your own, it may take years longer.

There are 3 stages in the application process and you can be awarded benefits at any stage depending on your disability, age, and medical documentation:

Stage One: Applying for Benefits -This is a two-step process. Once Social Security receives your application, it usually takes approximately 3-5 months for a decision to be made to award benefits or to deny benefits. Approximately 85% of applications are denied at this stage.

Stage Two: Appealing the Denial- There is a 60-day window to appeal a Decision to deny benefits. Once the appeal is submitted the wait time for a decision in approximately 3-5 months.

Stage Three: Hearing with a Judge – If you have been denied on your appeal, the next step is to file for a hearing to be held before a Judge. This is the longest wait. Since there are thousands of cases and only a handful of judges to review them. This process can be 12-16 months.

Applying for your disability benefits can be a confusing and difficult time, but that is what we are here for. We will be with you every step of the way.

What we do to help you in this process is:

  • Apply for your disability benefits make sure that the Social Security Administration has all the paperwork that is required to make a decision in a timely manner.
  • If you are denied (which is currently happening at an 85% rate), we will file the appeal.
  • We put all of your medical records and submit them to the Social Security Administration.
  • If denied a second time, we will file for a hearing where our attorney will fight for your disability benefits in court. (Most judges at this point require you to have some type of representative with 0 in court.)

During the process we are here to help you understand the Social Security process and specifically with your case. We are also here to help you answer questions pertaining to the paperwork that Social Security requires.

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Connect with our legal team to arrange your no-cost consultation by completing our online form or by calling 952-467-8481. We represent clients in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro and throughout Minnesota.

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