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How College Impacts Your Social Security Claim

Do you know how your education impacts your social security case?

Sometimes I get too involved in the subject I am writing about for a blog. On occasion, I’ll hear a coworker say something and it will spark a bit of inspiration. Both of these things happened when I heard case manager Kelly Fritz talking to a client recently. She was advising the client about college and how it impacts an individual who is trying to get approved for disability. I immediately thought of myself. Granted, most people who know me will tell you that I immediately think of myself in most situations. Kidding aside, I really hadn’t thought about how education plays a part in the disability process. So, I decided to look into it further.

I think it’s obvious that the purpose of social security disability is to determine if you can work or not. That is somewhat of a generalized version of how Social Security works. Unfortunately, it’s not that black and white. However, for this blog, let’s keep things simple. When looking at everyone applying for social security as a whole, we see a diverse group of people with one thing in common; a disability is keeping them from working. Social Security has two ways to determine if a person is disabled; The Social Security Administration (SSA) evaluates applicants for disability in two ways:

  • whether an individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals the criteria of an official disability listing in the Social Security disability handbook (often referred to as the listing of impairments, or the blue book), or
  • whether the individual’s medical and vocational factors, when considered together, prevents he or she from performing any of their old jobs and any other job in the national economy (disability examiners refer to this as a medical-vocational allowance).

To keep things simple, we will just be focusing on the 2nd option. In this case, yes, your education level can make it more difficult to get approved. If an applicant’s disability or impairment doesn’t meet or equal a listing, and the applicant can’t return to his or her former work, the applicant’s age, work history, and educational background are evaluated to determine if an individual has the capacity to perform less demanding work in a competitive workforce.

How can your education level impact your claim? Well, your ability to perform other types of work sometimes comes down to something called transferable skills. Transferable skills are skills that you have acquired through your past jobs or through schooling that you can use in other areas of the work force that are less demanding. Therefore, if you return to school, you may have additional skills that can be used in other jobs even if you are unable to perform your old jobs.

So, yes, college can impact your claim for social security disability. Just keep in mind that this is not the only factor that impacts your claim and we certainly do not discourage you from furthering your education. You also have your age, health, and many more factors to consider. Let us know if you like to learn more about social security. Call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

 

How to Stay Focused on Your Social Security Case During the Summer

Memorial Day just passed, all of the kids are out of school, and we no longer need to pack a hooded sweatshirt when we venture out for the day. Though summer officially starts in three weeks, the unofficial start is here. I just got back from a weekend road trip, and I am eagerly planning a trip to central Ohio later this month. There is so much to do in the summer time regardless if you are planning trips, being one with nature, or even getting pumped for all of the great shows on Netflix. Summer is a lot of fun, but it’s also an ideal time to get distracted from your social security claim that can have negative ramifications in the long run. Today, let’s talk about 5 ways to keep your social security case on point during the summer.

  1. Schedule your appointments accordingly. Just like you and I can’t wait to go on vacation, your doctor likes to go on vacation too. For many smaller offices, the entire staff usually goes on vacation at the same time. So, there may be weeks during the summer that your doctor’s office is not available. However, if your doctor’s office is open during holiday weeks like the 4th of July or Labor Day, you may be able to get in at the last minute if you need to. The bottom line is to keep your appointments up during the summer. You need to have evidence to get approved, so don’t let your appointments slip due to distractions.
  2. Keep up on paperwork. My post office box is about to burst. I am probably the last person who should talk to you about getting the paperwork back into an office. But, once again, it’s easy to get distracted.
  3. Attend your hearing. It takes a very long time to get a hearing scheduled in the first place. If you cancel your hearing with the SSA, it may be several months or more before you actually get rescheduled. Is that extended time worth skipping?
  4. Take your medication as prescribed. This can be difficult for someone like me to preach, but it can negatively impact your health if you don’t take your medication on a regular basis. Now that everyone has smartphones, it’s easy to set an alarm to remind yourself to take your meds.
  5. If you move, tell someone. Most people move in the summer, especially July, so if you happen to move, call your attorney or the SSA and let them know. Failing to do so can result in lost paperwork and missed appointments. A simple phone call can alleviate these issues.

We know summer is supposed to be a time of fun and great memories, we just don’t want your case to slip by the wayside. If you want to have some help with your claim for social security disability, give us a call today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk now, fill out this form, and we will call you back at a better time.

How Does Incarceration Impact Your Social Security Benefits?

It’s funny how pop-culture can impact the types of questions we are asked at the office. Since the popular Netflix original series Orange is the New Black has returned, we have received quite a few questions about individuals curious about what would happen to their benefits if they went to prison. Before we get too deep into this subject, the people asking us about this are not criminals. I am willing to bet most haven’t even taken a pen from a bank. Rather, they are just curious. Or, they like to be prepared because you never know what may happen in your future. Thankfully, the SSA makes this info relatively easy to obtain.

One of the first things to keep in mind is that the length of time you are incarcerated is important. For instance, if you are arrested one evening and held overnight for a small crime, your benefits likely will not be impacted. In fact, according to regulations, you must be incarcerated or at least 30 days before your benefits will be discontinued. Your benefits may be reinstated after your release.

The SSA goes on to state: Although you can’t receive monthly Social Security benefits while you’re incarcerated, benefits to your spouse or children will continue as long as they remain eligible. If you’re receiving SSI, your payments are suspended while you’re in prison. Your payments can be reinstated in the month you’re released. However, if your confinement lasts for 12 consecutive months or longer, your eligibility for SSI benefits will terminate and you must file a new application for benefits.

If you haven’t filed for Social Security benefits before, you can while you are in prison with a few rules. If your institution has a prerelease agreement with the local Social Security office, it will notify the SSA if you’re likely to meet the requirements for SSI or disability benefits. The SSA will get an application from you several months before your anticipated release. That way, they can begin processing your application and your benefits can start as soon as possible after your release. If you’re filing for benefits based on disability, the SSA will gather medical evidence from your doctors to help them decide whether you still meet Social Security’s definition of disability. Family members or a social worker can help you by contacting Social Security to let the SSA know about your upcoming release. A family member also may be willing to serve as your representative payee if your medical condition prevents you from handling your own finances.

If you’ve been released from prison, and have questions about filing for benefits, give us a call for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you don’t have time to talk now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

What Role Does DDS Play in a Social Security Claim?

Sadly, last week we said goodbye to one of our long time employees. Jackie Roberts has been with us for 14 years. Jackie is a kind soul and has been a great part Why does Social Security Have a 5 Month Waiting Periodof this firm for a long time. Her daughter Shannan works for us a Non-Attorney Rep, and together they helped build this firm to where we are now. It’s hard to see such a good employee go. While I always liked Jackie, I can honestly say I haven’t the slightest idea what she did here. Don’t get me wrong, I know she is very hard working. She is usually here before I arrive in the morning, and she is often still working after I leave for the day. I Also know that Jackie’s job dealt with DDS. I just have no idea what DDS, what it means for social security, and how someone adequately performs a DDS task. With Jackie retiring, I thought it might be a good time to figure out what DDS means, and how it impacts a social security claim.

You might be wondering why I am even writing for a social security blog if I don’t know what DDS means. Well, my background is in VA disability. The VA does not really have a DDS equivalent. I am currently expanding my knowledge of social security. Did you know that Social Security is really confusing? I’m going to assume that if you filed a claim, you are already aware of that.

The first thing I had to do was figure out what the letters DDS mean. Acronyms really irritate me. They don’t save that much time, and if people didn’t use them, I wouldn’t have to be writing this blog. But, the world isn’t perfect. It turns out DDS stands for Disability Determination Services. According to the social security website, Most Social Security disability claims are initially processed through a network of local Social Security Administration (SSA) field offices and State agencies (usually called Disability Determination Services or DDS). The field office is responsible for verifying non-medical eligibility requirements, which may include age, employment, marital status, or Social Security coverage information. The field office then sends the case to a DDS for evaluation of disability.

PI 2 040Further, the social security website states that DDS tries to obtain evidence from the claimant’s own medical sources first. (Your private medical records.) If that evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination,  DDS will arrange for a consultative examination (CE) to obtain the additional information needed. The claimant’s treating source is the preferred source for the CE, but the DDS may obtain the CE from an independent source. After completing its development of the evidence, trained staff at the DDS makes the initial disability determination.

So, that can be a little confusing. In other words, DDS makes your initial decision for social security disability. One issue a lot of our clients see with DDS is a denial. Actually, it’s not just our clients; it is social security as a whole. Approximately 90% of all claims get denied through DDS.

Now that we have a better understanding of what DDS is, how does one work in a “DDS” position in a law firm? That was actually interesting to learn. Jackie role was essentially a liaison between DDS and our office. Anytime DDS needed additional information for a client, Jackie would handle those requests for individuals we represented. During her time with us, Jackie made a lot of great relationships with the individuals at our local DDS office, and her work helped thousands get the benefits they deserve.

If you’ve been denied, call us today for a free consultation. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you’d rather be contacted at a later time, fill out this form now, and we’ll have someone contact you at a better time.