At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our Social Security attorneys can assist people throughout North and South Carolina who are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Since this area of law can be complicated and technical, many of our clients have questions about how the system works. Below are general responses to some of the most common questions that applicants ask.Is My Condition Considered a Disability for Purposes of SSDI Benefits?
Under the Social Security Act, a disability is defined as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
A medically determinable impairment is a mental or physical impairment that is verifiable by diagnostic testing or other medically accepted clinical and laboratory diagnostic techniques. In addition, your disability must be considered severe, such that you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, and prevent or limit you from engaging in basic work-related activities, such as moving, sitting, or thinking. Finally, your condition must have lasted for at least one year or be expected to last for at least one year.What is Substantial Gainful Activity?
Substantial gainful activity refers to the level of work activity and amount of earnings of an individual. To qualify for SSDI benefits, an applicant must be unable to engage in substantial gainful activity due to his or her medical impairment. Generally, the Social Security Administration considers those who are earning more than a certain amount per month to be engaging in substantial gainful activity. This amount typically increases each year. For 2016, the income limit for non-blind individuals is $1,130 per month (net of disability-related work expenses), and for statutorily blind individuals the limit is $1,820 (net of disability-related work expenses).Can I Return to Work and Still Be Eligible for SSDI Benefits?
Yes, for a certain period of time and according to guidelines set out by the Social Security Administration (SSA). If you receive SSDI benefits and return to work, you must notify the SSA. You may be eligible for a work incentive program, such as the Trial Work Program, which allows you to work for nine months within a five-year period to test whether you can work, while still receiving full benefits. In the Trial Work Program, once you have worked for nine months within a five-year period engaging in substantial gainful activity, your SSDI benefits will stop. There may be other work incentive programs available to you, which you can discuss with an attorney.Will My SSDI Benefits be Affected if I Receive Workers’ Compensation or Other Disability Benefits?
In general, yes. If the combined amount of your SSDI benefit payments, workers’ compensation, and public disability benefits exceeds 80 percent of your average earnings before you became disabled, your SSDI benefits will be reduced. This only includes public disability benefits under federal, state, or local government laws, such as civil service disability benefits, temporary disability benefits, and retirement benefits based on disability. Disability payments from private sources, like private pension or insurance, will not affect your SSDI benefits.What if My Claim is Denied?
If your SSDI claim is denied, there are several levels of appeals that may be available to you. If you initial application is denied, you may request a reconsideration. Your case will then be reviewed by someone who was not involved in evaluating your initial application. If you receive an unfavorable decision after reconsideration, you will have the opportunity to present your case in a hearing before an administrative law judge. If you disagree with the judge’s determination, you may request a review of your case by the Appeals Council. The final level of appeal is filing a lawsuit in federal district court.Explore Your Options with a Carolina Attorney When Pursuing SSDI
At Grimes Teich Anderson LLP, our SSDI lawyers are dedicated to guiding North and South Carolina residents through a process that may seem challenging to them. We are prepared to listen to your concerns as well as answering any questions you may have. Grimes Teich Anderson serves individuals from cities such as Asheville, Franklin, Greenville, and Spartanburg, among others. To schedule a free consultation, contact us online or by calling 800.533.6845.