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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

How much in SSI benefits could a recipient in Texas receive?

Supplemental Security Income helps Texas residents who are unable to maintain substantial gainful employment of any kind, yet do not have a significant enough work history to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Many stay-at-home parents are in this boat, for example. How much in benefits could an SSI recipient receive?

Supplemental Security Income recipients with no income may be eligible to receive the maximum federal SSI payment. For the year 2018, the maximum monthly SSI payment for an individual is $750. This is a $15 increase over last year's maximum of $735 for an individual. For couples, the maximum monthly SSI payment for 2018 is $1,125. This is $22 more than 2017's maximum of $1,103 per month. When a recipient has some income, but less than the monthly income limit, they receive SSI benefits but they receive an amount less than the monthly maximum payment.

Helping Social Security Disability claimants with their appeals

What happens when a Houston resident has worked for years, has paid Social Security payroll taxes, but becomes disabled before retirement age? People in this situation may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. These benefits exist to provide assistance to eligible workers. Far from being a government handout, Social Security Disability is run as an insurance program to benefit people who have paid into the system.

Last week we told you about some funding issues the Social Security Administration was facing. As baby boomers retire or become eligible for disability benefits, the system has been strained, with claimants taking the brunt of it with delays in approvals. Congress responded by boosting the SSA's budget by $480 million. This is likely a start down the right path in terms of the changes that must be made so that people who've paid into Social Security can get the benefits they've earned.

SSA needs more funding to serve Texas SSDI claimants

The pressures faced by the Social Security Administration have been well-documented by both the news media and the watchdog agencies that monitor government functions, like the Government Accounting Office. In Texas, for example, claimants who have applied for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program must sometimes wait months for an initial decision. If a hearing is required, the wait time can extend to well over a year.

The reason that the SSA has found itself in this service quagmire is a combination of factors. As the "baby boomer" generation has aged, more claimants are requesting SSD benefits, as well as Social Security Retirement and Supplemental Security Income. In spite of ballooning benefit rolls, the agency has been stymied by budget cuts and hiring freezes.

Can one get SSD benefits and workers' compensation in Texas?

When a worker is injured while performing their job duties at their place of work in Texas - or in a place related to work - their only recourse is, typically, workers' compensation. But in cases where the injury prevents someone from returning to work for a long period of time or reduces their ability to hold a job, the worker may also be able to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits.

Workers' compensation benefits are administered at the state level, but SSD benefits are disbursed by a federal trust fund that the Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees. Increases in the numbers of SSD claimants - almost 60 percent - since 2001 have resulted in delays, an overburdened system and allegations that states are attempting to relieve themselves of workers' compensation claimants by shifting them to SSDI.

Can Texas residents get SSD benefits for a skin disorder?

Not all skin disorders are merely cosmetic. Some are so severe that they impair a person's ability to work, creating financial and other hardships. In Texas, and across the United States, workers have made contributions to the Social Security Disability Insurance program through payroll withholdings. When a person's skin disorder is so severe that it prevents them from working for long periods of time, they may be able to qualify for SSDI Benefits for illness for disorders of their skin.

To qualify for SSD benefits, a skin disorder must fall within the specific parameters required by the Social Security Administration. The SSA guidelines enumerate several specific disorders, such as dermatitis, that may qualify. However, the list is not comprehensive. Disorders and injuries, such as burns, can be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine severity and treatability. If medical evidence demonstrates that a skin disorder impairs function, it may meet the criteria for SSD benefits.

Could a fibromyalgia diagnosis qualify you for Social Security?

Many different medical conditions, both injuries and illnesses, can qualify people in the United States for Social Security Disability. Some people believe that only people with mobility issues or fatal conditions can qualify for Social Security Disability, but that is not the case. These benefits may be available to those with medical conditions that make regular work extremely difficult or impossible.

One such condition is fibromyalgia. For those who suffer from this condition, working a full-time job may simply not be an option. Pain, exhaustion and issues with cognitive function can all impact job performance and safety for professionals. Those with fibromyalgia may want to consider applying for Social Security Disability if working a job proves too difficult.

Will a respiratory disorder qualify for SSD benefits?

In Texas, people who are unable to work due to a debilitating respiratory disorder may qualify for financial assistance in the form of Social Security Disability Insurance. The benefits that are available from Social Security Disability for illness of the lungs or respiratory system are paid from a trust, just like Social Security Retirement benefits. And, like Social Security retirement benefits, workers in the United States have been paying into the SSDI trust throughout their time in the workforce.

In order to receive benefits, a respiratory disorder must meet the specific guidelines that the Social Security Administration has established for these types of disorders. To be approved for benefits, a claimant must show that their respiratory disorder meets the prescribed thresholds of severity. People suffering from asthma, for example, must demonstrate a forced expiration volume below a level that is prescribed based on the height and gender of the individual suffering from the condition.

SSA workloads affect disability claimants

In a report released this month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office again faulted the Social Security Administration for the way in which it conducts business, particularly with regard to Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. This month's report was issued on the heels of a report from earlier this year that found wildly inconsistent results in hearings involving similar claims. The new findings note the challenges that the SSA must overcome to deliver the levels of service required to meet the needs of disability claimants.

When it comes to Social Security Disability, SSA's challenges stem largely from one source: Baby Boomers. As more of the 80 million Baby Boomers reach the ages that are most disability-prone or retire, they put a tremendous strain on SSA resources that could otherwise be used to improve infrastructure, technology and service delivery. What's more, thousands of SSA employees are Baby Boomers themselves. The agency anticipates that more than 20,000 employees will retire by the end of the 2022 fiscal year. With them will go institutional knowledge, as well as leadership, creating additional management challenges for the SSA.

Helping Texas residents get the SSD benefits they deserve

During their working careers, Texas residents contribute to the Social Security Disability Insurance trust. Social Security Disability operates similarly to Social Security Retirement. The FICA portion of the withholdings from your paycheck are distributed to several trusts, like Social Security Retirement, Medicare and SSDI. When you need them later, you apply to the federal government for the benefit and, ostensibly, you receive it.

In the case of SSDI, you become entitled to the benefits when you suffer an injury, illness or chronic condition that prevents you from working. Such maladies can range from broken bones and sensory impairments, such as blindness, to skin disorders and mental health issues. When applying for SSD benefits, your claims must be substantiated by medical evidence.

Why do Social Security claims get denied?

Talk to any Social Security disability attorney, and he or she will tell you that it's very common for the Social Security Administration to turn you down. However, the attorney will also tell you that just because your claim was denied does not mean you can't qualify.

In fact, it's because of numerous denials of benefits that Social Security lawyers stay in business. It's not uncommon for disability applicants to get a green light for their cases after sending in appeals for reconsideration.