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Houston Social Security Disability Law Blog

How to qualify for Social Security disability

Social Security disability benefits can provide a vital lifeline to disabled individuals in Texas and across the nation who are unable to care for themselves or their family because of their disability. As a result, disabled individuals should understand how to qualify for, and apply for, Social Security disability (SSD) benefits.

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, the disabled individual must suffer from a disabling medical condition that is severe enough that it prevents them from working. They must be unable to perform any type of work. In addition, the disabling medical condition must be expected to last for 12 months or longer or result in death. Certain medical conditions are included on the Social Security Administration's list of disabling medical conditions but even if the disabled individual's medical condition is not the list, they may be able to establish their disability through their medical records.

We help Houston residents seek SSD benefits for fibromyalgia

When people think of illness and their job, people usually think of getting ill and having to take a day or two off work. This could be economically problematic depending on if an employee has sick leave. But what if an employee has a chronic condition that makes it impossible for them to work for an extended period?

Fibromyalgia is one example of a chronic condition that negatively impacts the ability of many people to work. People with fibromyalgia may experience chronic fatigue, restless sleep, pain in various parts of the body, numbness in the feet or hands, impaired cognitive functioning and other issues. These symptoms can make it difficult or even impossible to work. If a worker's fibromyalgia prevents them from working for at least 12 months, then the worker may want to apply for Social Security disability benefits for illness.

How do workers' compensation benefits affect SSD benefits?

Many people in the Houston area who are receiving workers' compensation benefits may wonder if they can apply for Social Security disability benefits as well. This question is most commonly asked by people who have received a high disability rating on their workers' compensation claim and who may be facing a substantial reduction or elimination of future income.

First, the good news. Disability payments from private sources such as pension plans or disability insurers do not affect a person's right to apply for and receive Social Security disability benefits. However, if a person is receiving a public disability benefit, such as a workers' compensation payment, that person's SSD benefits may be affected.

Common misconceptions about claiming disability benefits

If you are unable to work because of your disability, you will need to take action in order to claim disability benefits in Texas. Doing so will help you to support yourself and your family financially. However, many people have reservations when filing for disability. This is often because of things they have been told by others about the process.

If you are concerned about filing for disability benefits because you believe you will be unsuccessful, or perhaps because you think you may be judged, it is important to address these beliefs. The following are some of the misconceptions that disabled people have when considering filing for disability benefits.

Understanding the Ticket to Work program for SSD benefits

Most people in the Houston area who are receiving Social Security disability benefits would love nothing more than to regain the ability to work and to earn a steady income. Some individuals suffer from disabilities, such as paralysis or blindness, that plainly preclude their return to work. Other individuals, however, have conditions whose disabling effects may be reduced or minimized by rehabilitation and counseling.

For this latter group, the Social Security Administration runs a program called Ticket to Work. As its name implies, the program is intended to help certain individuals find work in which their disability is not a total barrier to earning a steady income. Everyone who is age 18 to 64 who is receiving Social Security disability benefits and/or Supplemental Security Income is eligible for the program. Participation is both free and voluntary.

Understanding the SSA definition of disability

Many people in Houston who suffer from a serious illness or injury are uncertain if they are eligible for Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. They may understand that total disability is a prerequisite for receiving such benefits, but they may have only a vague idea of how the Social Security Administration (SSA) defines that term. Fortunately, the SSA has adopted regulations that provide a precise and comprehensive definition.

As defined by the SSA, "disability" means the inability to engage in "substantial gainful activity." That definition may not seem to provide much clarity, but the SSA has tied the definition to specified amounts of money that equal substantial gainful activity. The SSA has set two income levels to define substantial gainful activity, one level for people who are blind and one for people who are not blind. The specific amount has changed from year to year depending upon changes in the national average wage index.

SSD benefits for children who suffer mental retardation

Parents of children in Texas who are afflicted with limited mental capacities often wonder if their child might be eligible for Social Security benefits. The Social Security Administration runs several programs that provide financial benefits for children who suffer from conditions such as Down syndrome, mental retardation or other conditions that severely their ability to function at work or in society.

The starting point for most benefit applications for children who suffer from disabilities is an application for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). To be eligible for SSI benefits, a child who is not blind cannot be earning more than $1,220 per month. The earning limitation for a blind child is $2,040 per month. The child must have a medical condition or combination of conditions that cause "marked and severe functional limitations." The condition must result in subaverage general intellectual functioning as evidence by an inability necessary to participate in standardized testing of intellectual functioning.

Obtaining disability benefits for hearing loss

As people age, their hearing often deteriorates. This problem is exacerbated by the many loud noises that people experience at work and in their daily lives, especially in a large city such as Houston. If hearing loss becomes severe, it can interfere with a person's ability to perform the duties of a job or fulfill social functions. The Social Security Administration has set guidelines for awarding disability benefits to those who have lost a significant portion of their hearing capacity.

An applicant for Social Security disability benefits based on hearing loss must first show that the hearing deficit has lasted for or is expected to last for at least 12 months. The hearing loss must also be shown to prevent a person from performing job duties in their current occupation or in any other occupation.

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.