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Sacramento Social Security Disability Legal Blog

How moving could affect Social Security benefits

California residents who become disabled may choose to file for Social Security benefits. Some of these disability recipients wonder what would happen to their benefits if they move to another state with a lower cost of living. Because Social Security disability payments are governed by federal law, moving to another state won't affect the amount of benefits received. However, some states offer supplements to disability payments that may be affected when a recipient moves.

The amount of Social Security disability payments received are not based on state or local living expenses. Instead, the amount is based on earnings prior to the onset of the disability. Over time, the monthly amounts received may increase due to cost of living increases determined by the federal government.

Appeal period for SSD

People in California who have applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been denied typically have 60 days from the date of their decision notice to file an appeal. While the appeal period is 60 days, the Social Security Administration adds an extra five days to allow for the decision notice to be mailed, giving applicants have a total of 65 days to make sure that their appeal is filed with their local SSA office.

There are situations in which applicants may be allowed to submit an appeal beyond the customary appeal period. This includes cases in which the applicants have a bona fide reason for being late. When applicants submit their appeal late, they should include a good cause statement that explains why they were unable to file their appeal timely. Some good cause reasons that may be acceptable include situations in which a catastrophic event resulted in the damage of an applicant's relevant papers and records. Being admitted to a hospital or having an immediate family member die are acceptable reasons.

What are California disability insurance benefits?

Most California workers know that they're eligible to receive workers' compensation benefits if they get hurt on the job, but what if you get hurt in an off-the-job accident? This is where California state Disability Insurance (DI) benefits may be able to help.

If you've lost wages and you can't work because of an illness or injury that isn't related to your job -- or if you can't work because you're pregnant -- you may be able to receive these valuable benefits.

Nurses can find themselves with a disability because of work

Working as a nurse can be quite rewarding. Nurses get to engage directly with patients in a way many doctors simply cannot due to time constraints. They administer physical treatments, talk with patients about their conditions and monitor their progression as they recover (or in some cases, decline). Most patients understand the importance of the role filled by nurses, but few people really comprehend the risks nurses take every day.

Nursing is actually a relatively dangerous profession. Nurses have to handle dangerous compounds, bodily fluids and even unstable patients. They can end up exposed to all kinds of pathogens, but many times, the primary risk factor is in the strain of daily work. Nurses who develop serious, debilitating conditions as a result of their job deserve benefits, including Social Security Disability in cases where recovery is unlikely.

An overview of disability benefit criteria

California residents do not need to have a permanent disability to receive Social Security Disability benefits or Supplemental Security Income benefits. However, an individual seeking such assistance must have a total disability. To qualify as being totally disabled, an applicant must not be able to reach the substantially gainful income threshold in a given year. Those who receive benefits may be allowed to continue working as long as their income is below that amount.

To successfully obtain SSD or SSI benefits, an applicant must show that he or she cannot return to work or fulfill the duties of any job for a year. Applicants will use relevant medical records to establish that they have a disability. Once an application is approved, he or she must participate in a continuing disability review. Reviews take place once a year, every four years or every seven years based on the type of benefits a person receives.

Multiple factors must be met to receive SSD for depression

When people in California develop depression, the condition could last for days, weeks, months or a lifetime. Social Security Disability benefits could be available to people with depression when its severity and persistence can be documented. The first requirement that all applicants must satisfy involves an inability to work, which the Social Security Administration defines as sustained gainful activity. A person must lack the mental focus and fortitude to perform paid labor for at least 12 months.

Medical verification presents the second hurdle for an applicant. A medical professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist or medical doctor, must provide clinical evidence of the person's disability due to depression. The federal government will evaluate a disability application based on objective medical records that meet the agency's criteria for affective disorders. Documentation can come from medical treatment notes and evaluations that document psychological problems as observed by medical professionals.

The Social Security definition of disability

In California and throughout the nation, Social Security provides benefits to people who cannot work due to disability. To be approved for benefits, applicants must follow the proper application procedures, and their condition must qualify as a disability under the Social Security Administration's definition.

The Social Security Administration defines a disability as a condition that is severe enough that it prevents the claimant from working for at least one full year in a position that will allow the claimant to earn a substantial and gainful income. Factors that may be considered in a disability application include the claimant's education level, age and job experience.

Equaling a social security disability listing

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has an impairment listing manual that outlines conditions that qualify for Social Security. Your medical condition does not need to be listed in the manual in order for you to qualify; rather, you just have to be able to provide evidence that your condition meets criteria for qualifying as disabled. This is referred to as equaling a SSD listing.


Wait time for payment after disability benefits approval

When residents of California are awarded Social Security benefits, they may wonder when they can expect to start receiving payments. The amount of time between approval of a claim and the first payment varies by case, but is usually longer if the case went to hearing before approval.

When disability claims are approved on the initial claim or an appeal, they are immediately sent to the local Social Security office. That is where the claim is put into pay status, so the claimant usually receives payment in the month they are entitled to being receiving benefits. That month might be at some point in the future because there is a mandatory five-month waiting period for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits do not have this waiting period.

Enrollment for SSDI down but number of pending cases up

In California, 4.4 percent of the population between the ages of 18 and 64 receive payments from Social Security Disability Insurance, Supplemental Security Income or both programs. According to the Social Security Administration, enrollment numbers appear to have peaked and started to decline, but the amount of pending cases has reached an all-time high of 1.14 million. In 2010, pending cases only totaled about 300,000.

The departure of increasing numbers of baby boomers from the workforce accounts for the decline in enrollment. Over the past two years, SSDI claims have decreased by 150,000. People with pending cases, however, face increasingly long wait times. In 2017, the average wait for a disability hearing reached 633 days. The prior year, the wait time was 543 days.

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