Social Security Disability

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The Social Security Act was passed by Congress, and signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in 1935. The disability insurance program was added to Social Security in 1954. Since that time, American employers and employees have paid into the Social Security program to fund the benefits provided.

Social Security disability is designed to help provide income for a disabled individual. There are many different injuries, diseases or conditions, both physical and/or mental, which may be disabling in part. However, a condition (or conditions) that qualifies as a disability under Social Security Administration guidelines must be more than partially disabling. The disabled individual must be unable to perform any substantial gainful activity. The Social Security Administration defines substantial gainful activity for 2010 as gross monthly income of $1,000.00 or less. This amount is recalculated every year and typically increases slightly. The social security disability attorneys of Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, can help you determine the correct substantial gainful activity amount at the time of your claim.

If an individual does not meet the substantial gainful activity threshold, he or she must also have a disabling condition expected to last for at least twelve months, or has a condition which has already lasted for more than a year, or is expected to cause death. Even if you meet the disability guidelines, monthly benefits are only available if you have obtained the required work history. Currently, most individuals are required to have worked for 40 quarters to qualify for benefits, or five out of the last ten years. If you qualify, benefits are paid on a monthly basis.

Social Security publication No. 05-10029 summarizes the five step process to determine disability as follows:

Step 1 – Are you working?
If you are working and your earnings average more than $1,000.00 each month, we generally will not consider you disabled. The amount changes each year. If you are not working, or your monthly earnings average the current amount or less, we will then look at your medical condition.

Step 2 – Is your medical condition “severe”?
For you to be found disabled, your medical condition must significantly limit your ability to do basic work activities—such as walking, sitting and remembering—for at least one year. If your medical condition is not that severe, you will not be considered disabled. If your condition is that severe, then you proceed to step three.

Step 3 – Is your medical condition on the List of Impairments?
Social Security has a List of Impairments that describes medical conditions that are considered so severe that they automatically mean that you are disabled as defined by law. If your condition (or combination of medical conditions) is not on this list, then we look to see if your condition is as severe as a condition that is on the list. If the severity of your medical condition meets or equals that of a listed impairment, we will decide that you are disabled. If it does not, then you proceed to step four.

Step 4 – Can you do the work you did before?
At this step, we decide if your medical condition prevents you from being able to do the work you did before. If it does not, the state agency will decide that you are not disabled. If it does, we go on to step five.

Step 5 – Can you do any other type of work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, we look to see if you would be able to do other work, evaluating your medical condition, your age, education, past work experience and any skills you may have that could be used to do other work. If you cannot do other work, we will decide that you are disabled. If you can do other work, we will decide that you are not disabled.

You can often file an initial application for disability benefits on your own. In our experience, the vast majority of applications are initially denied. Social Security’s own records through 2005, in a document entitled “Flow of Cases Through The Disability Process: Fiscal Year 2005″, showed that only ten percent of all applications were initially approved. The 2008 Statistical Report from Social Security shows that only 28% of all applicants ever see their application approved. You can help your application to be approved by providing a detailed list of all medical conditions and medical providers with your application. You need to make sure that you have accurate contact information for all hospitals and physicians. The initial application process can take months. If you are denied, it may be necessary to file for an appeal with an administrative law judge. Our social security disability attorneys can help with this process. Currently, the appeals process is taking an average of 18-24 months to reach a conclusion with a decision given.

Pursuant to federal law, attorneys fees in a social security case are allowed to be 25% of any back pay benefits you may receive. This is further capped at $6,000.00, unless an additional fee is approved by the judge. The social security disability lawyers of Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, handle disability cases in conformity with the federal law and do not receive a fee if you do not receive your disability benefits. You are responsible for the expenses associated with your case.

If you need legal assistance, or for further information about social security disability, please contact us or call Kennedy, Kennedy, Robbins & Yarbro, LC, at (573) 686-2459. Our commitment is to earn your confidence by answering all questions and providing quality representation.