Frequently Asked Questions

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    Common Disability Claim Questions

    For Social Security Disability purposes, to be considered disabled a person must have an impairment, either medical, psychological, or psychiatric in nature. The disabled person’s impairment must also meet the definition of disability which essentially states that the impairment must be severe enough that it keeps the person from working, and earning above a certain amount, for at least twelve months.

    How long do I have to make a claim?

    Any individual can file a disability benefits claim at any time as long as they qualify according to the standards set by the Social Security Administration. This means that if you or your loved one has a physical or mental impairment that is keeping you from being able to earn an adequate income, and the condition is projected to last for more than 12 months, then you should file for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income.

    When is a person considered disabled by Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income?

    You are considered by the Social Security Administration to be disabled when your mental or physical condition prevents you from being able to perform work duties and earn a livable wage. The condition must either last—or be projected by medical professionals to last—for a minimum of 12 months in order to qualify for assistance. Your level of ability to perform work you have previously been able to perform, or even a modified or limited version of related work, will be taken into consideration.

    Who determines whether I am disabled?

    The Social Security Administration will determine whether or not you are effectively disabled to the point of inability to earn a livable wage based on the statement of medical professionals. This is why it is so important that you work with a trained professional such as our representatives here at Muse Disability Services to help you collect all needed medical documentation to present the most clear case for your impaired condition.

    When should you apply for Social Security Disability or SSI?

    If you or a loved one are suffering from a disability that impairs your ability to earn an adequate income, and your condition is projected to last 12 months or more, then you should probably apply for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. Even if you are still currently able to perform your normal work duties but your condition is declining and projected to continue to decline, you should go ahead and reach out to us to prepare to apply for disability benefits.

    How long will it take to get a decision for Social Security Disability?

    There is no clear cut answer to this question. Depending on the type or degree of your disability, the approval process can take anywhere from 90 days to much longer. Different circumstances such as varying work load of Social Security Administration case workers and differing amounts of research required to verify your claims will cause varying lengths of waiting periods.

    How do I apply for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?

    Once you decide to apply for disability benefits, then you will need to complete all the paperwork required by the Social Security Administration and begin gathering all the medical records, lab tests and other documentation that will back up your claim of disability. You will also need to present work records that establish your work history and inability to perform needed tasks in these areas of work due to your impairment.

    What is Disability Determination Services?

    Housed within the State Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Disability Determination Services is the agency tasked with receiving and processing Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits claims from local citizens. This is where the first level of approval or denial of disability benefits claims takes place.

    What kind of evidence is used to evaluate and decide my disability benefit claim?

    Both medical and vocational evidence will be used to determine your qualification for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income. This underscores the benefit that a Muse Disability Services representative can bring to your case, as they will be able to help determine and collect the most important documentation for benefit approval by the Social Security Administration.

    More disability facts

    In detail, what does this really mean, as far as the Social Security Administration is concerned?

    First, a person’s medical records must indicate the presence of an impairment, or several impairments, either physical or mental in nature.

    Second, the impairment must be severe enough that it prevents a disabled individual from working, or, if they continue to work, prevents the person from earning more than $900.00 each month. This amount is referred to by the Social Security Administration as SGA, or substantial gainful activity. It is important to note that this amount is before taxes.

    Third, the impairment must last at least twelve calendar months, or be projected to last that long.

    Therefore, applicants for Social Security Disability should realize the following:

    A claimant may fit the definition of disability and be considered eligible for Social Security Disability based on one impairment, or on the basis of several impairments. But the condition must be severe enough to significantly affect the ability to work. This means the impairment must last at least twelve months, or be expected to last that long. It also means that while “back conditions” usually fall into the severe category, “wrist and ankle sprains” seldom qualify as severe disabling conditions.

    A disabled individual may be working when they apply for Social Security Disability, and may continue to work even after they have been approved—as long as they do not earn more than the SGA amount. The SGA amount changes periodically, but currently it is $900.00 per month. It is important to remember this is a gross income amount, i.e. before taxes have been deducted.

    A person earning more than the SGA amount who applies for Social Security Disability or SSI benefits will, essentially, be denied the same day without having their impairments or medical records even considered. This is referred to as a “technical denial”.

    The specific answer to Question One, however, is this: in the eyes of the Social Security Disability and SSI programs, a person
    is considered disabled when:

    They have a severe impairment that has lasted, or will last, twelve months.

    They are unable to perform work (work they have done in the past) while earning in excess of $900.00 per month.

    They are unable to perform other types of work, typically work related to their past work (for example, a car mechanic might be expected to switch to motorcycle engine repair if the job duties are similar enough).