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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

Back injuries and SSDI benefits

One of the most pervasive causes of disability for Houston residents is a back injury, especially a lower back injury. The Social Security Administration recognized back injuries as a cause of disability, but the requirements are strict, and, like other disabling conditions, must be proven by creditable medical evidence.

Back injuries are classified as injuries to the musculoskeletal system. Back injuries must satisfy the general conditions for such injuries. These include loss of function due to bone or joint deformity or destruction of a joint from any cause. A musculoskeletal injury must make the patient unable to walk effectively on a sustained basis. The general condition for all disabling conditions also applies: the condition must either expected to last or have lasted for at least twelve months or expected to result in death, which is an unlikely prognosis for most back injuries.

Understanding the SSDI decision process

Many Houston residents find that applying for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits can be a daunting. The social security disability review process involves the analysis of extensive medical information, review of employment records and evaluating the information in light of the claimant's past employment history. Familiarity with the process can make seem less overwhelming and can increase the likelihood of an application being approved.

How does the SSA define 'disability' under the SSDI program?

Many Houston residents who suffer a disabling illness or injury want to know if they are eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The answer depends upon the severity of the disabling condition and its expected resolution. The Social Security Administration or SSA, the federal agency that administers the SSDI program has established several important criteria that must be satisfied before a person can receive disability benefits.

The basic definition of "disability" states that a claimant must have a medically determinable physical or mental condition that prevents him or her from engaging in any "substantial gainful activity." The condition must be expected to result in death or to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. In seeking disability benefits, a claimant must provide written evidence from a medically acceptable clinic or laboratory that the illness or injury exists.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for hearing loss

Loss of hearing is common in today's industrial world. Many loud noises are common in Houston's overall environment. Jet liners, truck engines and many industries, such as metal fabricating, mining, drilling and construction, generate noises that can damage a person's hearing to the point where the impairment may constitute a compensable disability under the Social Security Disability Insurance Act.

As with any application for SSDI benefits, the disability must be permanent and must be verified by prescribed medical procedures. For hearing loss, the SSA requires both an otologic examination and an audiometric examination. An otologic examination is the visual inspection of the ear and related anatomical structures by a licensed physician, osteopath or audiologist. It must include the claimant's medical history, the claimant's verbal description of the hearing loss and the physician's visual description of the outer and inner structures of the ear. The audiometric examination is used to quantify the ear's ability to transmit sounds of various frequencies. SSA regulations specify the degree of impairment that will qualify a person for benefits.

Some people with severe diabetes could receive Social Security

Many people labor under the incorrect assumption that only certain medical conditions will qualify them for Social Security Disability benefits. In reality, any medical condition, even common ones, could result in someone qualifying for Social Security Disability.

What really matters is how severely the condition impacts the person involved. If a medical condition is severe enough to prevent someone from continuing to work, that may be enough reason to seek Social Security Disability. The applicant simply needs to provide medical documentation of how severely the symptoms of their condition impact their daily life.

Will a consultative examination be needed for my SSD benefits?

Texans who are injured or have a condition that they believe warrants Social Security disability benefits must remember that there are many factors the Social Security Administration must consider before granting an approval. If there is the need for more information or a step is not followed, the applicant could be denied Social Security. For some, there could be the need for a consultative examination to help the SSA come to a decision on whether to provide SSD benefits or not. Knowing when this might be needed and what it entails is a key to a case.

The following situations might make it necessary for there to be a consultative examination: if more evidence is needed because there is not sufficient evidence for a determination to be made; for medical findings to be provided in greater detail; if there is a need for specialized or increased technical medical information; if there is a dispute about the medical findings that have been made; if there is a dispute as to whether the person is capable of performing substantial gainful activity or, for those under 18, the ability to function as children without impairments do.

With SSI benefits, what will not be considered as income?

Houston residents who are seeking Supplemental Security Income should understand the requirements from the start. To even be eligible for benefits, the person must be blind, disabled or at least 65-years-old and have limited income and limited resources. Regarding income, the Social Security Administration will want to know what income the applicant gets and where it comes from. There are certain sources of income that will be exempt from consideration as the applicant's income and eligibility are assessed.

It is important to know what will not be considered income when applying. These items and services will not be considered income regardless of their value. If the person is receiving medical care and the facility that is providing it receives payment from a government program or a social service program - even if the person resides at the facility while getting treatment - it will not be considered income. When the person receives social service, cash or an "in-kind" item that comes from the government program, it is not considered income.

Obtaining SSDI benefits for depression and related disorders

Depression and bipolar disorder afflict many people in the Houston area. In the more severe cases, persons with the condition may not be able to work or lead normal lives. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits are available if the conditions of the illness are especially severe.

As with all disabling conditions, the person seeking benefits for depression or bipolar disorder must present written medial evidence of both the disease and its disabling effects. For depression, the medical evidence must show one of three conditions. For a depressive disorder, the evidence must show the presence of five out of nine conditions, including depressed mood, lack of interest in almost all activities, change in appetite with corresponding change in weight, sleep disturbance, feelings of guilt or worthlessness or thoughts of death or suicide.

Do workers' compensation benefits affect SSDI benefits?

Many people in the Houston area have injuries that limit their ability to earn a living. Some are eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, some are eligible for workers' compensation disability benefits and some are eligible for both. Sorting out the differences between SSDI benefits and workers' compensation benefits is often a complex tax requiring the assistance of a knowledgeable attorney.

The basis for the two types of benefits is different. Workers' compensation benefits are paid to anyone who has suffered a work-related injury. Benefits for disability include permanent partial disability, permanent total disability, temporary partial disability and temporary total disability. SSDI benefits are based on the extent of the disability: a person must be totally and permanently disabled to collect SSDI benefits. The cause of the disabling condition is immaterial. SSDI benefits are not paid for either partial or temporary disability.

Social Security Administration: Long waits a problem for disabled

When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, one of the questions you may have is how long it will take to get SSD. Initially, the Social Security Administration claims an average of three to five months to get a decision on your case. The reason for a variance in the length of time it takes is because of the wait for medical records, evidence and any other information needed to make a decision on your case.

If you are not approved for SSD the first time, then you will need to file an appeal. An appeal is a different animal, and it takes much longer than your initial application. It's for this reason that many people work with attorneys to make the best initial application possible.