Many people that come to us have applied for Social Security Disability, but sometimes, it really did not make sense for them to apply in the first place. So, if you are on the fence about whether to apply for benefits, here are a few things to think about.
Are You Working Now?
The first question that Social Security will ask in evaluating your claim is whether you are engaged in “substantial gainful activity.” All this means is whether you are working and earning a minimum amount of money each month. Social Security will publish a specific monthly income amount that it considers to be significant gainful activity. If you are consistently making that amount of money month after month, then you will probably have your claim denied fairly quickly. Currently, the amount of income that is considered “significant gainful activity” is approximately $1,070.00. This changes each year.
There are always exceptions to this general rule. Sometimes Social Security will not consider this money to be actual earnings. Also, different rules apply for this people who are self-employed.
How Old Are You?
The magic age is 50. This is the one time that it is an advantage to be older!
If you are under the age of 50 and claiming that your disabled, you must show that you have a serious medical impairment that keeps you from not only doing your prior work, but doing any other work that exists in the national economy. For example, if you are working in construction, and suffered a serious knee injury that took you off work permanently, you may be disabled from that kind of work. However, if you could still work as a cashier with the option to sit and stand throughout the day, you would not be considered disabled. It does not matter that your earnings may be significantly less.
Another thing to consider is that the jobs need only exist, and not be available. We represent people all over Washington and Oregon, and the local job market changes from place to place. It is not relevant whether or not the jobs Social Security thinks that you can do are available, but only that they exist. In other words, if Social Security finds that you are able to perform these jobs and compete with other people to get the job, then you are not disabled.
What is Your Doctor Telling You?
It is not only what your doctor was saying, but what your medical records say. Social Security will determine whether you have a “severe” medical impairment, which means that you have medical problem, or a group of problems that affects your ability to do work activity in general. Medical records play a big role in determining whether your condition is severe. This is because medical records contain “objective” medical evidence. This means the medical records show a problem, and everyone can see it, like a broken leg on an x ray.
Your doctor will also have a large role to play. Many doctors will agree that you have a serious medical problem, but the real question is often how much your medical condition limits your ability to do work activity. How much can you sit, stand, walk, lift and carry? Do you have a mental health issue that will prevent you from being at work regularly? Doctors will often provide opinions on these issues.
When You Should Apply?
When you apply for disability benefits, you have to show that you are disabled, but also that your disability has lasted, or is expected to last at least a year.Some of our clients will wait several months, even years to apply.If you think that your health issues are going to keep you from work for a year or more, then you should think about applying for benefits.Waiting does not help most of the time.
If you have questions about applying for Social Security Disability, check out our free, downloadable book that will walk you through the application process, and answer many of the most commonly asked questions.Or, call us at 503-325-8600.We have over twenty years of experience helping people through the Social Security Disability process.