How Our Social Security Benefits Attorney in Morristown Can Help
The Social Security Administration approved your disability claim and you received the decision letter indicating the amount of your payments and the start date for receiving them. Now it is time to understand your rights and responsibilities as you receive disability benefits from Social Security. Keeping your records up-to-date is important, and if you do not report changes or if you give the SSA false information or withhold information, you can be penalized.
Your benefits will be re-evaluated periodically and if the SSA deems you are no longer disabled, your benefits will be terminated. If you disagree with the decision you can appeal. Our Morristown Social Security Disability lawyers at The Terry Law Firm have the experience and knowledge to help you with your appeals process or to help you if you believe you were unfairly sanctioned.
Updated Social Security Information
Keeping the Social Security Administration apprised of any information that could affect your payments is critical. While you may receive your payments through direct deposit, it is important to ensure administration officials have correct contact information for you.
You must supply any information to the SSA for the following changes:
- Change in address or contact information, change in marital status and any changed information for family members that also receive benefits through your disability.
- Change in the number of people who live with you, ensuring you report if someone moves into or out of your home, someone who lives with you dies, or if you or someone who lives with you has a baby.
- If you have income other than your SSI, you must report the amount of all other sources, as well as reporting if the income increases, decreases, or stops altogether. The same must be reported for any other family members living with you.
- If you enter or leave a residential institution, hospital, skilled nursing facility, nursing home, intermediate care facility, halfway house, jail, prison, public emergency shelter or any other kind of institution, you must report this to the Social Security office. You usually cannot get SSI while in a public institution.
- If you have any outstanding warrants for your arrest this must be reported. You cannot receive disability benefits for any months in which there is an outstanding arrest warrant for a crime that is a felony.
- If your condition improves and you get SSI because of a disability you must report this to the SSA. If you are no longer disabled, your SSI will stop after a short adjustment period.
Medical Condition Review for SSD
If you are receiving benefits because you are disabled, the Social Security office will periodically review your case and reassess your disability status. You will continue receiving your benefits unless the review finds strong proof that your condition has improved medically enough that you are able to return to work. The decision letter you were sent when you received your initial approval will indicate when you can expect your first review.
Types and frequencies of review include:
- Medical improvement expected. If your condition was expected to improve within a specific time period, then your first review will be between six and 18 months after you receive your first SSI payment.
- Improvement possible. If it is possible that your medical condition will improve, your case will be reviewed approximately every three years.
- Improvement not expected. If your medical condition is deemed unlikely to improve, your case will be reviewed only about once every five to seven years.
Prior to conducting a review you will receive a letter from the SSA, and a representative from the local Social Security office will contact you to explain the review process and your appeal rights. At this point you should provide any updated information that you had not previously supplied.
A review is similar to the initial assessment of your disability with the same decision process being followed. When a decision is made, you will be sent a decision letter. If the examiners determine that you still are disabled, your SSI will continue uninterrupted. If you are found to be no longer disabled and you disagree with that conclusion, you can file an appeal. The appeals process is the same as the initial appeal.
Contact The Terry Law Firm for Help with Social Security Disability Benefits
We handle Social Security Disability cases from the initial application stage through administrative hearings and federal court. Our team will properly prepare your application and the medical evidence of your disability. If you feel that your denial is incorrect and you want to file an appeal, our Morristown Social Security Disability lawyers can help.
Call us now at (423) 586-5800 for a free consultation.
Social Security Disability
Social Security will pay you benefits if you cannot work because you have a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year or result in your death. This description is the federal government’s definition for disability and will be used to determine whether your situation qualifies you for disability benefits. The definition limits the disability payments to long-term only and does not give money to people with partial disability or short-term disability. Primarily, if you have paid enough in Social Security taxes – at least half of the working quarters since you turned 21 years of age – you are eligible to file a claim for Social Security Disability if you become disabled.
To get disability benefits, in addition to meeting the disabled definition, you must also meet two different earnings criteria:
- A “recent work” test based on your age at the time you became disabled; and
- A “duration of work” test to show that you worked long enough under Social Security.
The Social Security office will review your application to determine whether you worked enough years to qualify and to assess the level of your current work activities. If you meet these criteria, your application will be passed on to the Disability Determination Services office in your state which completes the disability decision for the Social Security office.
The state agency will ask your doctors and specialists for information about your condition and will consider all the facts in your case. They will use the medical evidence from your doctors and hospitals, clinics or institutions where you have been treated and all other information.
Specifically, they will ask the medical team for the following information:
- What your medical condition is
- When your medical condition began
- How your medical condition limits your activities
- What the medical tests have shown
- What treatment you have received
In addition to the above, they also will ask the doctors for information about your ability to do work-related activities, such as walking, sitting, lifting, carrying and remembering instructions. Your doctors are not asked to decide if you are disabled. Additional medical information may be needed before a final decision can be made. It is possible that the state agency will ask you to go for a special examination. Although the preference is to use your current doctor, the exam may be conducted by another qualified physician.
According to the Social Security Administration the length of time it takes to receive a decision on your disability claim can take from three to five months.
It can vary depending on several factors, but primarily on:
- The nature of your disability;
- How quickly medical evidence is obtained from your doctor or other medical source;
- Whether it is necessary to send you for a medical examination in order to obtain evidence to support your claim; and
- If your claim is randomly selected for quality assurance review of the decision.
Yes. The Social Security Disability Insurance has an initiative called Compassionate Allowances (CAL). This is a process whereby the Social Security office can provide benefits quickly to applicants whose medical conditions are so serious that their conditions obviously meet disability standards. There are 88 qualifying rare diseases and cancers on the list. Compassionate allowances allow the office to quickly identify diseases and other medical conditions that qualify under the Listing of Impairments, based on minimal objective medical information. Compassionate allowances allow Social Security to quickly target the most obviously disabled individuals and get their benefits to them.
It is possible that certain members of your family qualify for benefits based on your condition and your previous work.
Those family members include:
- Your spouse, if he or she is 62 or older
- Your spouse, at any age if he or she is caring for a child of yours who is younger than age 16 or disabled
- Your unmarried child, including an adopted child, or, in some cases, a stepchild or grandchild. The child must be under age 18 or under age 19 if in elementary or secondary school full time
- Your unmarried child, age 18 or older, if he or she has a disability that started before age 22. (The child’s disability also must meet the definition of disability for adults.)
- Your divorced spouse may qualify for benefits based on your earnings if he or she was married to you for at least 10 years, is not currently married and is at least age 62. The money paid to a divorced spouse does not reduce your benefit or any benefits due to your current spouse or children.