Social Security Disability Insurance Archives - Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law, L.C.
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How Does the RFC form Impact Your Disability Claim?

Anyone who has even considered applying for Social Security Disability will tell you that there are a lot of acronyms. An individual pursuing Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income will quickly learn that DDS is an abbreviation for Disability Determination Section. They also quickly find out that ALJ means Administrative Law Judge, and DE is short for Disability Examiner. Even Social Security Administration is typically abbreviated to SSA. But one acronym that many Social Security applicants may not be aware of is RFC.

RFC is short for residual functional capacity. Now that you know what the letters stand for, you’ll likely want to know what it means. Here is how the SSA explains RFC:

“Residual functional capacity assessment. Your impairment(s), and any related symptoms, such as pain, may cause physical and mental limitations that affect what you can do in a work setting. Your residual functional capacity is the most you can still do despite your limitations. We will assess your residual functional capacity based on all the relevant evidence in your case record.”

Essentially, SSA is determining what limitations you may have due to your conditions. For instance, back pain may limit your ability to stand for longer than 4 hours out of an 8 hour day or social anxiety may limit your ability to work with the general public.  SSA will be looking to see if there are still jobs within the national economy that you can do despite the limitations defined within your RFC.

If you have multiple disabilities, SSA will consider the combined limitations established for all of them to determine your ability to work. For instance, your back pain may limit you to only performing sedentary type jobs but your mental health diagnosis also limits your ability to concentrate for longer than 30 minutes at a time.  The physical & mental limitations combined would further reduce the jobs you could perform than only one limitation by itself. That’s why it’s important to list ALL of your disabilities when you apply for benefits. Or, if you’re working with an attorney, you’ll want to make sure they’re aware of all of your disabilities, as well as the ways in which they limit you.

Now that you understand the basics of RFC, you may be curious as to who determines your RFC. Actually, it’s a combination of people. Disability Determination Services is a state agency, and is the first level of determining disability benefits. DDS has individuals called Disability Examiners who work with a medical consultant to determine your RFC. These individuals consider limitations your doctor has assigned you, such as the inability to stand more than 10 minutes or lift more than 10 pounds. This is why it is extremely important to have your doctor document the limitations along with your symptoms within your medical records.

The RFC is first used to determine if you can do the type of work that you’ve done for the past 15 years. If you’ve done sedentary work for the past 15 years and your RFC states that you can do light work, which is above sedentary work, they will likely suggest that you return to your previous type of work. If the Disability Examiner determines you can’t do your prior job, they will then determine whether, given your RFC, your age, your education, and your skills, you should be able to learn another job.

This can be a difficult process to understand and navigate. That’s why so many people turn to the team at Jan Dils, Attorneys at Law to help them get the benefits they deserve. If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, or if you’d like a free consultation, give us a call today. Our toll-free number is 1-877-526-3457. If you can’t talk to us now, fill out this form so that we may call you at a better time.

Can Social Security Disability Benefits be Garnished?

The answer to this question is, sometimes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits cannot be garnished because they are protected. However, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits can be garnished by certain creditors.

Social Security garnishment

SSDI benefits cannot be garnished to pay for debt from credit cards, personal loans, medical bills, or other such debt. This doesn’t mean the creditor can’t take any of your money. If you owe money to one of the above-listed creditors they can get a court order to freeze your bank account.

There are some limits on how much money they can freeze. When a creditor contacts your bank to start garnishing your wages, the bank must look at your account and see how much of the money came from SSDI payments in the past two months. Once they have added everything up, the bank must protect that amount from garnishments.

Here’s an example- If you get $1,000 every month in SSDI benefits the bank will protect up to $2,000 in your account. Anything over $2,000 is fair game.

If the debt is from federal taxes, federal student loans, alimony, child support, or other sources of federal debt, benefits can be garnished. The Feds can take up to 100% of your SSDI payment if they see fit.

If you are on social security disability benefits and owe money to creditors it’s important to know what they can and can’t garnish. Don’t let creditors unjustly take away your much-needed disability benefits.

How Are SSDI Benefits Calculated?

SSDI

 

Even if you’ve managed to successfully navigate the complex and byzantine social security benefits process, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re done with dealing with the Social Security Administration. As any Parkersburg SSDI lawyer will tell you, the next stage of the process is to determine exactly how much you are owed. Unlike other forms of social security, social security disability insurance has nothing to do with how much income you have or how severe your condition might be. While a Parkersburg SSDI lawyer that knows the specific intricacies of your case can give you a better insight into what kind of payment to expect, this guide should serve as an effective baseline that you can then estimate your own potential earnings off of. Of course, a West Virginia SSDI lawyer should always be contacted before pursuing a claim with the Social Security Administration.

Determining a Basic Payment

As previously mentioned, social security disability insurance works differently from most other forms of social security. There are no additional benefits owed to someone with a more severe disability, and there is no adjustment to the payments made based on a person’s existing level of income. Instead, the basic payment from social security disability insurance is instead reliant on a person’s previous lifetime earnings. For most social security disability insurance recipients, this translates to a monthly check that ranges between $700 and $1,700.

Although we’ve presented a simplified version of the Social Security Administration’s formula for determining a person’s expected earnings from social security disability insurance, the truth is that the formula used is considerably more complex. This is because the Social Security Administration doesn’t just rely on taking a person’s lifetime earnings and dividing it by the number of months they worked. Instead, the Social Security Administration uses a more complex formula that applies weights to a number of different factors in order to give a person a more representative amount each month.

This representative amount is based on how much the Social Security Administration estimates that you’ve paid to social security in the form of taxes. This system is referred to as “covered earnings.” From these covered earnings, a number of other formulas are derived. An individual’s average covered earnings for a specific period of time are known as an average index monthly earnings, which is shortened to AIME.

From an individual’s AIME, their primary insurance amount is then derived. This is the figure that the Social Security Administration ends up using to determine how much a person earns from social security disability insurance benefits each month. From the PIA, the Social Security Administration then applies various fixed percentage points to the model, which are referred to as “bend points.” Bend points are adjusted on a yearly basis, ensuring that the Social Security Administration can tweak its percentage points as needed.

Since these bend points are adjusted on a yearly basis, it can be difficult to gauge the formula in a given year. While we have plenty of statistics for the various years in which the Social Security Administration has utilized this formula system, that doesn’t mean it can be used to easily predict any recognizable pattern for the coming years. Still, there is hope for people that are genuinely curious about their covered earning potential. The Social Security Administration actually has a link on its website that allows users to easily see their covered earning statement.

Through this exhaustive statement, users can see a breakdown of their entire covered earning history. For those that pay into this system, the Social Security Administration sends out a breakdown every five years. In addition, the Social Security Administration also sends one out on a yearly basis to anyone over the age of 60. By providing this information free of charge, it’s hoped that people will be conscious of how much money they are contributing into social security, and give them a better sense of what they can hope to collect through social security disability insurance. Of course, the best way to ensure that someone is getting the social security disability insurance benefits that they’re owed is to make sure they have a knowledgeable SSDI lawyer by their side.

In addition to a covered earning statement every few years, interested parties can also contact the Social Security Administration directly by calling their phone number. By speaking to a local Social Security Administration representative at one of their many field offices, an individual can find out virtually everything they need to know about their covered earnings report, or any other specific item involving social security that they’re curious about. This transparency is a useful tool for those that are considering applying for social security disability insurance benefits, and is also something worth keeping in mind for those that are still working towards their covered earning pool.

Given how difficult applying for social security disability insurance benefits is, it’s important to take advantage of any tools that the Social Security Administration provides when the opportunity presents itself. Just as it is with claims submitted to insurance companies, the Social Security Administration will look for any excuse to deduct from benefits payments or deny them altogether. While an experienced lawyer can help offset these setbacks and ensure that you’re paid a fair amount for your disability, there’s still no way of guaranteeing that the Social Security Administration will behave appropriately on the first phase of the claims process.

Potential Ways Your Payment Can Be Reduced

Speaking of behaving appropriately, there are actually quite a few ways in which the Social Security Administration can deduct benefits from a social security disability insurance payment. It’s worth mentioning that the Social Security Administration does make a distinction between private disability insurance payouts and government disability insurance payouts. This means that if you have your own private disability insurance policy that you’re collecting money from, then the Social Security Administration will not touch that money or use it as a basis for deducting benefits from their own monthly payout.

Despite this concession, there are still plenty of other government-based programs that the Social Security Administration will gladly deduct payments from. This includes workers’ compensation, temporary state disability benefits, and any other government program that pays out benefits to people affected with disabilities. When you collect money from these programs, all of it serves as a deduction from the Social Security Administration’s social security disability insurance payouts.

In addition to these types of deductions, there are also other restrictions on the maximum value of a Social Security Administration payout. In terms of a maximum benefit that any one person can be entitled to in 2016, the Social Security Administration has set the limit at $2,639. Additionally, the Social Security Administration has put specific rules in place that make it so that an individual cannot collect more than 80% of their average monthly earnings before their disability in social security disability insurance benefits.

While these restrictions can seriously impact the amount of money a person receives in a given month, there are still a few government-based programs that remain unaffected. With this in mind, there is a considerable amount of leeway for knowledgeable applicants to maximize their potential earnings from the Social Security Administration. Although it’s difficult to navigate these complexities on your own, there are plenty of professional social security disability insurance benefits lawyers that can provide valuable insight into the Social Security Administration’s processes.

Determining Backpay

Once a claim has been processed and the Social Security Administration has settled on the amount that is due, the next stage is to determine how many months of backpay the applicant is entitled to. While this varies from applicant to applicant, it is typically based on a combination of when the applicant first made their claim and when the disability is claimed to have first taken effect.

This is yet another area where those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the Social Security Administration may not know what to look out for. Having a lawyer negotiate with the Social Security Administration can result in more backpay being earned than would have otherwise been possible. It’s ultimately up to you to find a lawyer that you can trust.

A recurring theme throughout this guide has been just how valuable a lawyer can be in maximizing the benefits earned. Not many people realize just how important it is to have a lawyer on their side, especially when they’re going up against the government. Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is known for being particularly thorough in their evaluation process, so even the most deserving of people can have issues with getting the money they’re owed. This is why it’s so important to come to the process fully prepared, and to have a lawyer that’s equally prepared by their side.

What is a Disability Benefit Questionnaire?

dbq

A Disability Benefit Questionnaire (DBQ) is a form any veteran can download, take to their primary care doctor, and get a medical evaluation for veteran’s disability benefits. These forms can be found on the VA’s website, and will hopefully help streamline the notorious VA backlog. By allowing veterans to be evaluated by their own doctors instead of a VA health care facility, veterans can get evaluated much faster.  

DBQ’s use standard medical language and a simple checkmark system so anyone with a medical license can easily fill out a DBQ and send it to the VA without any communication errors.

There is a separate DBQ for each disability, so veterans need to be sure to bring the right form to the evaluation. DBQ’s cover more than 70 different medical conditions, some are very specific and others are more broad. The following conditions can not be evaluated using a DBQ:

  • Initial Examination for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Hearing Loss and Tinnitus
  • Residuals of Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Cold Injury Residuals
  • Prisoner of War Examination Protocol
  • Gulf War Medical Examination
  • General Medical Examination for Compensation Purposes
  • General Medical Examination for Pension Purposes

The VA feels that these conditions are best evaluated at a VA facility because of the specialized training and/or equipment needed to properly evaluate the medical condition.

Once the doctor has completed the DBQ the doctor’s office or the veteran can mail or fax the form to the VA Regional Office that will be processing the claim.

How To Choose An Experienced SSD Attorney In West Virginia

If you’re trying to get social security disability benefits in West Virginia, you might be interested in hiring an attorney to guide you through the complexities of the Social Security Administration’s evaluation process. Of course, finding an SSD attorney can be difficult, especially if you’re not particularly sure what makes an effective social security disability attorney. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a quick guide that looks at some of they key factors that separate a great SSD attorney from a less-than-stellar one.
social security disability
Are They Legitimate?

One of the first things you should look at in a prospective lawyer is whether or not their license is legitimate. As great as the Internet may be in finding a cheap service, you should always be wary of someone offering legal advice without any actual proof of their profession. If you’re not sure that someone can be trusted, then it’s likely that they can’t be. There are plenty of directories on the Internet that link to actual, legitimate attorneys that you can be sure are trustworthy and reliable in their services.

Are They Knowledgeable?

Even if you’ve found a lawyer that you can trust to help you earn social security disability benefits in West Virginia, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can trust them to win. If you’re trying to gauge an attorney’s effectiveness, be sure to ask them many questions about the potential outcome of your case. You want to note down their history of winning disability claims, both in your area and with your specific condition. It’s important to keep in mind that each case is going to have its own unique components, so an attorney that doesn’t have any experience with your disability may not be as effective as you want them to be.

Are They Accessible?

With SSD attorneys, it’s an unfortunate truth that they’re frequently swamped with claims. While you shouldn’t be surprised if you’re under-represented in your case, that doesn’t mean you have to go with a lawyer that doesn’t give you any individualized attention at all.

Your case is obviously important to you, but it should still be important to your representative, regardless of how many other cases they’re currently working. Don’t settle for being marginalized, and don’t settle for an ineffective attorney.

What You Need To Know About SSDI and SSI Claims

Despite being designed to help people, the Social Security Administration’s social security disability benefits program has evolved into a complicated process that can often take months before a claimant receives a positive judgment. Although supplemental security income has been designed by the Social Security Administration with a similar goal in mind, it is also faced with the same bureaucratic issues that social security disability benefits regularly deal with.
Successful SSI claims and SSD benefit claims often require the help of an experienced SSDI West Virginia lawyer, regardless of how severe a claimant’s disabilities are. It’s an unfortunate truth that effective SSI claims have more to do with an attorney’s abilities than the validity of the claimant’s condition. Of course, if you’re interested in applying for benefits, the most important step is understanding the difference between the two programs.

 

SSDI

Social Security Disability Benefits

As any SSDI West Virginia lawyer can tell you, applying for social security disability benefits in West Virginia can be incredibly difficult. West Virginia is notorious for having one of the lowest acceptance rates for disability claims out of any state.

Social security disability benefits are so difficult to earn in West Virginia because they pay considerably better than supplemental security income. It draws money out of the taxes that have been collected from a person throughout their work history, and is given out to people regardless of their assets or general income level. This makes it particularly valuable for people with disabilities that haven’t retired yet and still have a basic family income.

Supplemental Security Income

Unlike its counterpart, supplemental security income is a program that only awards money to people that have a demonstrated need for it. It is primarily designed as an additional aid for people with disabilities that are incapable of working and still need to pay for basic necessities like food and shelter. Supplemental security income also has the added benefit of paying out to people regardless of their work history. Of course, it does take into consideration a person’s other assets, including family income.

If you think you might qualify for one of these programs, or are unsure of which one you qualify for, then seek out an experienced attorney. They can help you determine which program to apply for and guide you through the entire complicated process.

How To Apply For Supplemental Security Income In West Virgina

Supplemental Security Income

Anyone interested in receiving supplemental security income in West Virginia will have to first fill out a claim with the Disability Determination Section, in agreement with the Social Security Administration and West Virginia’s Division of Rehabilitation Services. In contrast to social security, supplemental security income is primarily designed for children and adults that have not yet worked enough to qualify for other forms of benefits.

While it’s certainly possible to win an appeal without any legal aid, the odds of success dramatically improve when using the services of an SSI attorney. In order to qualify for benefits in West Virginia, it must be proven that a person was unable to work for at least twelve months as a result of ongoing mental or physical impairment. This sets the burden of proof fairly high, especially when compared to other benefits programs like worker’s compensation or veteran’s benefits. To start the application process, citizens of West Virginia can visit ssa.gov or visit a local social security office. Once a claim has begun, it is passed on to a disability evaluation specialist to determine its validity.

When a claimant’s disability is severe enough, there are no further processing steps. In other cases, the disability evaluation specialist will want to conduct additional assessments to determine the extent of any impairments. If the claim is rejected, the appeals process can be started within 60 days of the rejection.

Unfortunately, most of the people that need supplemental security income are denied their initial claim. This can be due to a variety of factors, but one of the most common is incomplete or improper paperwork. In these situations, an SSI attorney can help properly fill out the claim and take over the appeals process to ensure that the state provides the necessary resources. Receiving supplemental security income in West Virginia can be a complex and difficult process on your own, but with the right professional help, the process is much more streamlined and stress-free. Perhaps most importantly, a supplemental security income attorney only receives a small portion of any back pay awarded, with a limit of up to $6,000.

Who Qualifies For Social Security Disability Benefits In West Virginia?

Social security

Anyone applying for social security disability benefits in West Virginia will have their submission evaluated by the West Virginia Disability Determination Section. Although this organization solely handles social security disability requests in West Virginia, they are still required to follow federal laws and guidelines, as determined by the Social Security Admission. As a result, anyone that qualifies for social security disability benefits in another state will still qualify for them in West Virginia and vice versa. In general, an applicant is entitled to social security disability benefits if they are found to be too disabled for any form of prolonged work. An experienced SSD lawyer can help guide prospective applicants through the process more effectively, but this guide will attempt to look at the different limitations for adult and child applicants.

Adults

When an adult applies for social security disability benefits in West Virginia, the Disability Determination Section will pass the evaluation on to Disability Evaluation Specialist, who will then work on the specific case to determine if the applicant is sufficiently disabled. A person is not considered sufficiently disabled unless they can prove that they are prevented from any meaningful work due to an ongoing physical or mental issue that is expected to continue for at least 12 months. In fact, both West Virginia’s Disability Determination Sector and the Social Security Administration have a list of viable impairments for each major part of the body. By reviewing this list with an SSD lawyer, you can see if your impairment qualifies for social security disability benefits.

Children

Children under the age of 18 that apply for supplemental security income go through a process that is very similar to the one for adults that apply for social security disability insurance benefits. They must still prove that they are medically incapable of performing any form of work comparable to other children of their age for at least 12 months and that they are otherwise severely limited in their functionality.

Even though the Social Security Administration provides a list of acceptable impairments, this alone does not mean someone’s application will be approved. Evaluation specialists are thorough in reviewing an applicant’s materials and will not hesitate to send a rejection. You can offset this by being thorough in your own application and ensuring that all of your materials have been sufficiently prepared.

5 Tips for Getting The Social Security Benefits You Deserve

Fighting for your Social Security claims can be very difficult. Our firm’s been doing this for over 20 years, so we know a few things about getting people approved for their benefits. While every case is different, and there are a lot of unique factors that make up most cases, there are some universal truths for all Social Security Disability Claims. Today we’re going to look at 5 tips you need to remember in order to benefit your Social Security Claim.

  1. You will definitely need to be diagnosed with a disabling condition. For instance, you can’t state that your back is what’s keeping you from working if you’ve never been diagnosed with a back condition. We see that the lack of diagnosis is a lot more common in psych conditions. Many people will argue that their anxiety or depression is keeping them from working even though they’ve never been diagnosed with these conditions. Or, we see a lot of people who state that their wife or husband thinks they have a psych condition, so they want social security because of that. Your spouse can’t diagnose you with any conditions unless they are a doctor, and even then it would seem a little suspicious.
  2. Regular treatment can make or break a case. Too often people fail to treat their conditions, and this can cause a Social Security claim to be denied. If you were diagnosed with a back condition in 2003, but haven’t treated for it since 2004, you are a lot less likely to have a favorable decision in 2016 then if you would’ve treated for the past 12 years. Your conditions have to be chronic. This means that the issue is not going away, or is likely getting worse. Further, if you’re stating that you can’t work because of something like a back issue; your evidence needs to support that also. If your records show that you have slight back pain, this likely won’t keep you from working most jobs.
  3. Be aware of your past. This may seem a little odd, and honestly it does not apply to a lot of people, but certain people don’t qualify for Social Security Disability benefits because of where they’ve worked. SSD is based on work credits. Work Credits are earned by way of paying the Social Security Tax on your pay stub. Every week I see this tax on my paycheck. In fact, when a lot of our intake specialists are explaining this to new clients, they state that it’s almost like paying into a retirement plan. The more you pay into the tax, and the more credits you have, the more lucrative your possible monthly benefit. Like I said before, most of you won’t have to worry about this because most employers deduct social security tax from your paycheck. If you’re a teacher, work for the railroad industry, or have been paid under the table for most of your life, you may not have enough work credits. Let’s talk about being paid under the table first. It’s very unlikely that you will have social security taxes taken out of your pay if you’re being paid under the table. In fact, that defeats the entire purpose. So, if you’ve worked most of your life by being paid under the table, you won’t have many work credits. Teachers and Railroad employees are legit though. Some teachers unions, and some railroad outlets, have their own retirement programs. These people pay into that program as opposed to social security. Actually, this is such a big deal that the retirement board has their own website for retirement. Just a heads up though, the interface is awful and it’s not very easy to use. Regardless, this program is great, and the special retirement some teachers get is pretty good. If you are in this career field, make sure you’re aware of what happens if you become disabled prior to retirement age. In some situations you would receive a disability benefit through this program, and in some situations you wouldn’t. If you couldn’t get disability benefits through your retirement program there is a good chance that you won’t have very many work credits, and then you’re not likely going to be eligible for Social Security Disability.
  4. Your present may destroy your future. Social Media is a really big deal these days. This blog is considered a part of social media, and if you’re reading this you’re likely on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, or any other service that’s out there. Do not self-incriminate by way of Social Media. If you’re trying to argue you can’t work, but then post pictures of yourself chopping wood on Facebook, you’re probably going to get denied. I’ve even seen a truck driver say that he couldn’t do his job anymore because he had a bad back, but then post pictures of himself competing in a demolition derby. Before you try to argue that this is overkill, keep in mind that judges do look at these sorts of things.
  5. Be prepared to wait. I hate this process takes so long. Someone very close to me had to battle for years to get her social security benefits, and it was tough to watch. Years later I would come to work for this law firm and knew that if she would have talked with us first, her claims wouldn’t have been so difficult. One truth remains though, these claims take a long time. Generally you’re looking at 18 months or more for the entire process. This can be a difficult time especially if you are on a fixed income. Just be aware that there is not much that can be done to speed up the process. Knowing that it can take a while before you begin will keep you from being surprised later.

When we’re young, none of us think we’ll have to pursue a claim for social security disability in our lives. It catches most people off guard. If you find yourself lost in the process, you can reach out for help. We’ve been battling the SSA for over 20 years. Fill out this form or call us for a free consult, 1-877-526-3457.