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.
A person will be deemed totally disabled if he or she is unable to engage in any “substantial gainful activity.” The SSA uses a monetary limit to define “substantial gainful activity.” For 2019, substantial gainful activity is the ability to earn more than $1220 per month. For blind individuals, the amount is $2040.
Most claimants rely on their physicians to describe the limits imposed by the injury or illness and to prove that they are physically unable to engage in substantial gainful activity. Employment records should also be presented to demonstrate an inability to perform the claimant’s normal job duties. Testimony from a vocational expert is often used to demonstrate the totality of the disability.
Anyone contemplating filing a claim for SSD benefits may wish to consult a lawyer who has handled such claims. An attorney can provide helpful advice on assembling and presenting the evidence and pursuing an appeal if the initial claim is denied.