Due to the economic downturn, many people are looking into the possibility of receiving disability payments to supplement their household income. In fact, the number of applicants for Social Security Administration (SSA) disability benefits has nearly doubled over the last 20 years, while the number of granted applications has remained fairly steady.
It is important to remember that disability is not a solution to long-term unemployment and that there are strict criteria which must be met in order to qualify, including recent work history. Simply put, you must have been working a sufficient amount of time in a job in which you paid into SSA prior to incurring your disability. If you were working “off the books” that income will not be admissible as a basis for determining payments.
According to the SSA:
“Disability” under Social Security is based on your inability to work. We consider you disabled under Social Security rules if:
• You cannot do work that you did before;
• We decide that you cannot adjust to other work because of your medical condition(s); and
• Your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year or to result in death.
In other words, if you are a lumberjack and you were injured on the job, disability is based on your inability to work any other job, not your ability to chop down trees. Secondly, your injury or illness must match criteria of severity, whether you are unable to work for a minimum of year or your disease is considered terminal.
The SSA regards these payments as supplemental — it is assumed that applicants have access to other means of support; SSA disability payments are not meant to be sufficient sole income sources. Recently, cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) have increased only marginally due to downward pressure on prices for consumer goods and services. In 2016, benefits will remain the same as in 2015; the SSA will not pay a COLA increase to SSA benefit recipients.
While SSA provides essential cash for those in severe financial straits due to debilitating injuries or illness, it is not a panacea for lower-level problems. If you are working in a job with physical challenges, your best option is to retrain for a job which is more suited to your physical limitations.
If you are truly incapacitated, you should consider letting an attorney take the bureaucratic hassle of applying for SSA disability benefits off your hands. We handle your claim efficiently and do all the records filing and follow-up while you recuperate.
Our SSA disability benefits team are professionals and care about our clients.
That’s the service “benefit” at Stillman and Friedland. Because we care…