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Sacramento Social Security Disability Legal Blog

Social networks may play a larger role in receiving SSD benefits

Some individuals in California have seen the way social networks can impact their life at school or work in a negative way. It may be surprising to some that what they post on Facebook and Instagram may soon affect their Social Security disability claim. In the budget for 2020 that was released by the Social Security Administration, more money would be used to examine social networks as a way to see if an applicant meets the criteria for disability benefits.

This is not something that is completely new for the Social Security Administration. Staff members already use social networks to some extent to identify fraudulent claims. What they would like to do is use social networks to a larger extent to better assess a claim and determine if someone is eligible for Social Security disability.

Medical vocational allowance could enable SSDI for MS patients

Multiple sclerosis affects many people in California. This neurological disease has no cure, and the symptoms typically worsen over time. Eventually, a person with MS will experience debilitating symptoms that interfere with motor function, mental function and vision as well as extreme fatigue. The Social Security Administration specifically recognizes MS as a disabling disease for the purposes of granting disability benefits as long as an applicant meets explicit criteria. Because of the progressive nature of the disease, a person might fall short of meeting enough requirements, but the medical vocational allowance offers a chance to collect benefits if the person can no longer work for a living.

When a disability examiner evaluates an application from a person with a medically documented diagnosis of MS, they must consider multiple factors before approving a medical vocational allowance. The applicant's age, education, remaining physical and mental functions, work experience and ability to transfer skills to different jobs will influence the decision.

The importance of listing every medical condition

California residents who are planning on filing for Social Security Disability benefits are advised to list all of their conditions when applying. This is because it is easier to have a claim approved on the basis of multiple conditions as opposed to just one. The more impairments that a person can claim, the more likely it is that an examiner will determine that an individual is unable to work now or in the future.

It is important to note that a person can obtain benefits if he or she only has a single condition. Applicants are encouraged to list a condition even if that person doesn't think that it results in a disability. In some cases, an individual will apply for benefits for one condition but have an application approved based on another physical or mental condition listed. Therefore, failing to communicate the presence of any type of physical or mental ailment could be the difference between getting an application approved or denied.

When to file for SSD

California residents who have some form of physical or mental impairment that significantly affects how well they are able to work should know if and when they should apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Filing for SSD is typically advised if a medical condition restricts a person's ability to work. This includes the abilities to do tasks a person has performed in the past as well as other types of work that are considered suitable due to a person's training, education and job skills.

The Social Security Administration considers a person's ability to perform previous or other work activity when making decisions regard medical disability benefits. A thorough review of the medical history and work history of a claimant is conducted before a decision is made.

Injured on the job? Don't walk it off

You fall from a ladder at work. It's a simple accident, but you land on the hard concrete floor and you immediately feel your knee go sideways. A few other workers come running as soon as they hear you yell.

They help you sit up. Someone brings you a glass of water and some mild painkillers. You take them as you rest, looking at the fallen ladder and wondering how this could have happened. You thought the ladder was secure. Was it defective? Did you make a mistake? Is there some other factor you're overlooking? It's hard to know.

SSD or SSI and previous jobs

When California residents submit a claim for SSI or Social Security Disability benefits, many aspects of their lives are evaluated, including their work history. However, the very last job held by a claimant is not the determining factor for whether the benefits are awarded. The Social Security Administration uses a five-step evaluation process when deciding on cases. The final two steps of the evaluation process pertain to an assessment of the claimant's ability to execute work activity.

The fourth step of the process involves determining whether claimants can resume their past work. The fifth step involves determining whether the claimants are able to use their work skills and education to perform some other kind of work. Additional vocational factors that are considered include their age and any of the mental and physical restrictions that are believed to be in place due to the claimants' current condition or conditions. The result is a residual functional capacity, or RFC, rating that is determined by administrative law judges and examiners.

Get a better understanding of Social Security insurance

A healthy young worker in California is likely not thinking about disability. The truth is that when people are healthy, they do not want to think about negative changes to their health. However, according to statistics, workers who are 20 years of age have a 25 percent chance of becoming disabled prior to reaching the age of retirement. These dire statistics put the idea of thinking about what one would do if they become disabled in a different light.

There are two programs offered by Social Security that are designed to pay disability benefits. There is the SSDI program, which stands for Social Security Disability Insurance. The SSI program stands for Supplemental Security Income.

Getting disability benefits back pay

California residents who appealed a denial of Social Security disability benefits and were then approved may be awarded back benefits. An established date of onset will be determined by the disability examiner. This date will be used by the Social Security Administration as the date on which the disability is determined to have begun.

However, there are some factors can that impact how back disability benefits may be awarded. One factor is the distinct differences between the SSI disability and Social Security disability programs. Another factor is whether the claim approval took place during the application stage, the reconsideration stage or the disability hearing stage.

Some mistakes may affect SSDI approval chances

Filing a Social Security disability claim in California can be a daunting task, especially when it comes to meeting all of the various requirements that go along with this process. There's no guarantee that someone seeking disability benefits in the Golden State will receive them. However, there are some common mistakes that could make the process more frustrating and lengthy.

For example, prior to filing an SSDI claim, an applicant may want to review their medical records. Oftentimes, benefit seekers assume physicians will be on the same page regarding the need for disability benefits only to discover that derogatory information is included. Conversely, if a doctor is supportive of a patient's claim and condition, they may be willing to provide a more comprehensive treating medical source statement with diagnosis, treatment and prognosis details.

SSD applicants must explain functional limitations clearly

When California residents apply for Social Security Disability benefits, they must show that their conditions substantially limited their ability to function. Although people must provide honest information, they should not downplay how their mental or physical problems influence or limit their daily lives.

Claims examiners at the Social Security Administration might seek information about an applicant's functional limitations from medical records, questionnaire responses and interviews with the applicant and the person's third-party contact. An applicant should disclose every way that a condition impedes daily functions. These anecdotal statements matter because medical records often fail to make a complete accounting of how a disease impacts someone's ability to reach above the head, bend over, remember things, walk or perform work duties.

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