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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

Do you know how Social Security defines "severe" medical issues?

Language can be ambiguous sometimes. Two people may hear the same word and have different interpretations of its true meaning. That can lead to a lot of confusion, especially when the interpretation of a few words can impact whether you receive certain benefits or not.

For those who believe they need Social Security Disability benefits, the application process can often prove quite daunting. Really understanding what qualifies a person for disability can help take some of the anxiety out of the application process.

What are Social Security disability work credits?

Most Houston residents who are wondering about obtaining Social Security disability benefits pay most of their attention to the nature of their illness or injury and its disabling effects. A third factor must also be considered -- whether the person has accumulated enough work credits to qualify for Social Security disability benefits.

A person earns work credits by earning money in a job that is covered by the Social Security system. In 2019, a person receives one work credit for each $1,360 of covered earnings. The number of credits that can be earned in a single year is four, regardless of the person's total income. Thus, when a person has earned $5,440, he or she cannot earn any further credits in that calendar year. Work credits are permanent. The Social Security Administration maintains a record of every person's earnings and work credits. A person can leave and then return to a job covered by Social Security, and the number of accumulated work credits will be remain the same.

Proving disability for a claim for SSD benefits

A claim for Social Security disability benefits has two major parts: proof of a serious medical condition that is either permanent or expected to cause the death of the patient in 12 months and proof of a total disability. For Houston residents who may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, understanding these elements can be crucial to the success of their claim.

In plain English, total disability means the complete inability to perform (a) the kind of work that was performed prior to the onset of the illness or occurrence of the injury and (b) the inability to perform any other kind of work. According to the Social Security Administration, disability has two parts: it must be total and it must be permanent. Total disability is the complete inability to perform any kind of work. A permanent disability is one that is expected to last at least 12 months or to result in the patient's death.

Federal requirements for SSD benefits for lumbar spinal stenosis

Lower back pain is one of the most common disabling conditions faced by Houston residents. People in all varieties of jobs can develop this condition, and if symptoms are sufficiently severe, spinal stenosis can interfere with a person's ability to work. People who suffer from stenosis may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits for injury if they meet the necessary federal requirements.

Spinal stenosis is a condition that occurs when the spinal canal narrows and the surrounding bones put pressure on the spinal cord and nearby nerve roots. The narrowing can cause pain or loss of sensation in the arms, lower back or legs. The narrowing can be the result of an injury or the normal aging of the spinal column.

Are SSD benefits subject to federal income tax?

As April 15 approaches, people in Houston who have begun receiving Social Security disability benefits during 2018 may want to know if their benefits are taxable. They may also wonder if the state of Texas will tax their disability payments. The answer can be simple, but as with many tax questions, the precise answer depends upon the taxpayer's individual income and filing status.

The state of Texas does not tax Social Security benefits. However, if certain thresholds are exceeded, a person's disability benefits may be taxed on the federal level. In calculating taxes on federal benefits such as Social Security payments or Social Security disability payments, the federal government lumps all such payments together. A portion of the Social Security benefit is exempt from taxation in recognition of the fact that the taxpayer contributed a significant amount of money during his or her working life. The actual calculation of taxes owed to the federal government begins with Box 5 on Form SSA-1099. This box states the total amount of Social Security benefits paid by the government during the year. The amount in this box must be reported on Line 5a of Form 1040.

Obtaining SSD benefits for epilepsy

Epilepsy is a neurological disease that is often misunderstood, partly because the symptoms and effects of the illness vary greatly in frequency and intensity. Epilepsy is usually defined as the result of abnormal activity in the brain. Symptoms can include temporary confusion, staring at a point or object, uncontrollable jerking of the arms and legs, loss of consciousness or awareness and psychic symptoms such as fear or anxiety. Residents of Houston who suffer from epilepsy are often uncertain if they are eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The standards for epilepsy are included in the Social Security Administration's "Listing of Impairments."

Because epileptic seizures are discrete occurrences, the Social Security Administration has established criteria for disability benefits based upon the frequency and intensity of the seizures. A person with a diagnosis of epilepsy must first meet the general standards for disability benefits. The disease must prevent a person from performing the ordinary tasks of a job or occupation. The disease must also be expected to last at least 12 months or to result in the death of the patient. Epilepsy is rarely fatal, and thus, disability eligibility depends upon the frequency of seizures over a specific time span.

When does depression qualify you for Social Security Disability?

Depression is a mental health condition that impacts millions of Americans at some point in their life. There are multiple different forms of depression, ranging from postpartum depression experienced by new mothers after the birth of a child to dysthymia, a chronic, mild depression that can persist for life.

For some people, depression is a manageable part of their daily life. Talk therapy and medication can help them control their symptoms and the impact it has on their life. For others, depression can become overwhelming and leave them unable to function.

Understanding compassionate allowances and disability decisions

Many people in Houston regard the process of applying for and obtaining Social Security disability benefits laborious and lengthy. While these feelings have some basis in fact, these same people are often unaware of the special Social Security program know by acronym "CAL." The letters stand for "Compassionate Allowance," which is a program that is intended to provide specialized handling for people whose medical condition is especially grave.

The Social Security Administration has identified a number of diseases with effects that largely mimic diseases that are commonly recognized as causing the degree of disability that is required to qualify for Social Security disability benefits. These illnesses comprise certain cancers, adult brain disorders and several disorders that mainly affect children. If an applicant for SSD benefits has a disease that is already on the SSA's list of CAL diseases, the application will receive expedited processing, and a quick decision will be made on whether the illness qualifies the victim for SSD benefits.

The steps required to appeal a denial of SSD benefits

Many applications for Social Security disability benefits filed by Houston residents are denied the first time around, and the applicants are frequently left angry, confused and feeling helpless. Fortunately, the SSD benefit rules provide a multi-step appeal process that provides many applicants with an opportunity to reverse the initial denial.

The first step in an SSD benefits appeal is requesting a reconsideration of the decision. A request for reconsideration can be based on medical grounds or non-medical grounds. A request for a Medical Reconsideration asks the Social Security Administration to review the medical records in the case. The appeal will be assigned to someone who did not participate in the original decision, and that person will issue a decision on whether the denial is properly supported by the medical evidence. A reconsideration is based almost entirely on the original medical records, although the applicant can submit additional information that is relevant to the case. The applicant is responsible for assembling and submitting the necessary medical records.

Obtaining SSD benefits for diabetes

Many people in Houston suffer from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes was formerly known as "juvenile diabetes," and Type 2 was called "adult onset diabetes." Most people who suffer from either disease find that the illness can be controlled with regular doses of insulin and necessary changes in diet and daily routines. Unfortunately, some people are unable to achieve successful management of diabetes, and they may face a lifetime of limited activity and inability to engage in substantial gainful activity. Persons in this last category may be able to apply for Social Security disability benefits for illness depending on the severity of their diabetes.

The Social Security Administration classifies diabetes mellitus as an endocrine disorder, and the disease does not satisfy the SSA rules for proving disability without the submission of additional medical and employment evidence. The first step is to establish that the claimant suffers from either Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes. The next step is to demonstrate that the patient's diabetes cannot be successfully controlled. The inability to control diabetes is caused by any of several factors, including unawareness of the effects of hypoglycemia (a lack of glucose in the body), other disorders that can affect blood glucose levels, or inability to manage diabetes treatment due to a mental disorder.