Whether to file for disability benefits can be a difficult decision, especially after so many years of work. Many clients we see put off the decision as long as possible, sometimes to their own detriment. Here are some things to thing about in deciding whether to seek benefits:
1. Your Condition is "Severe"
One of the first things Social Security will look at is whether not you suffer from a "severe" medical condition. This is a legal term, which essentially means that your condition keeps you from performing basic work activity. Some people feel that it is pretty easy to prove that a condition is "severe" because it is not the same as proving that your condition keeps you from doing any kind of work whatsoever.
2. Your Adaptability
Another consideration is whether or not you have the ability to adapt to other work. This is especially true if you are a "younger individual," which for Social Security purposes, is 50 years old. You may not be able to do any of your prior work, but if you are able to do any other kind of work that exists in the national economy, then you are not disabled. It does not matter if the work is unavailable in the community you living, but only if the work exists on a national and regional level.
3. Your Age
As alluded to above, your age can play a major factor in whether not you are entitled to Social Security Disability. If you are under the age of 50, the Social Security Administration will expect that you are able to adapt to other work. For example, you may have been a construction supervisor earning several thousand dollars per month. However, if you still retain the ability to work as a ticket taker or cashier, even if it is an entry level, minimum wage job, you will not be considered disabled. After you turn 50 years of age, Social Security will relax the requirement that you adapt to other work. Social Security will look at your prior skill level, and the physical requirements of your past work.
4. Your Prognosis: What Does the Future Hold?
Some people suffer serious injuries on the job, or in some other accident, which knocks them out of work for an extended period of time. However, in order to qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must show that your condition has been disabling for at least twelve months, or is expected to be disabling for twelve months. Many people are reluctant to file for disability, and have been disabled for much longer than one year, still, other folks may have had a medical problem or injury that causes them to turn to Social Security benefits. This is often a matter of medical opinion
5. Your Physician's Opinion
Medical opinions are at the heart of proving your Social Security disability claim. Many of our clients are referred by local physicians, or tell us that their physician recommended that the file for disability.
Even though your physician may be supportive of your claim, Social Security can still dismiss your physician's opinion for several reasons. We work closely with physicians almost daily to ensure that medical opinions cover all the necessary elements of establishing "disability" in the legal sense.
If you are facing a disability denial, you should at least know where you stand. Request our free book, or contact her office at 503-325-8600. We can answer your questions, and help you decide how to move forward.