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Sacramento Social Security Disability Legal Blog

How to win a disability benefit appeal

California residents who file disability claims may find that their initial application and appeals are denied. This could make it necessary to have their cases heard by an administrative law judge. However, with nearly 2 million new disability claims made per year, there can be a significant backlog in cases. This means that an individual will likely need to wait before a hearing can be held.

Although the wait time to see a judge can bring about financial and emotional pain, the good news is that up to two-thirds of applicants win their cases after attending a hearing. Individuals are allowed to represent themselves or enlist the help of an attorney to prepare for a hearing and present their case.

Is medication needed to receive SSD benefits?

People in California who are applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) or SSI benefits may face a range of challenges and complicated requirements. In light of the documentation necessary to prove that one is truly disabled, many may be concerned that they must take prescription medication in order to be approved for benefits. The Social Security Administration does not define any disabling condition by the presence or absence of a medication prescription, and there is no case in which taking prescribed pharmaceuticals is a requirement to receive disability benefits.

However, if the claimant for Social Security Disability benefits is citing a disabling condition that is typically improved by medication, a disability examiner may ask why the claimant is not currently taking that medication. These questions may escalate significantly if the applicant has never tried the medications available. In particular, the examiner may question whether the applicant's disability would continue to render them unable to work if they took medication.

Becoming temporarily disabled as an agricultural worker

Working in the agricultural industry is one of the most high-risk occupations in California. It is unfortunately possible for an agricultural worker to be fatally injured at work. In 2015, it was reported that there were 401 farmer and farm worker fatalities. This rate is shockingly high, with a rate of 19.2 fatalities for every 100,000 workers.

While fatalities on farms are a risk, injuries that result in temporary disabilities can also occur. A temporary disability is defined as a type of injury that prevents you to be able to carry out everyday functions or work tasks for an extended — but temporary — period of time.

The process of applying for SSD benefits

California residents who are looking to file for social security disability benefits can do so online, by phone or at a local field office. However, it is best to do so in person whenever possible. Applying online could lead to uncertainty, and information received over the phone isn't always accurate. Furthermore, an applicant can't talk to a claims representative when filing online.

Having access to a claims representative often reduces the odds of making a mistake during the initial application or appeal process. If an applicant does choose to apply in-person, he or she will need to bring a picture ID. Otherwise, an applicant will need to go through an identification procedure. After that, applicants will be subject to an interview process that asks about any current medical conditions as well as any medications that they are taking.

Acceptable reasons for filing a late disability appeal

The Social Security Administration takes into account some of the difficult circumstances that might affect applicants in California. Any individual has a right to appeal a decision from the agency. Usually, the appeal must be made in writing within 60 days of receiving the decision letter plus five more days for mailing time. If an applicant fails to complete an appeal within this time window, the agency recognizes many good causes for missing the deadline.

An appeal might still proceed if the agency receives documentation that indicates that the applicant was too sick to complete the paperwork. A death in the immediate family or losing records in a fire are also acceptable reasons. Furthermore, someone impeded by mental, physical, language, speech or educational issues might gain an extension for the appeal process. When people need more time to collect requested records, the agency may view it as good cause for missing the deadline. Mistakes by the agency, such as never sending the decision letter or providing inaccurate directions, could also qualify as valid excuses.

Determining one's SSD benefits

Over 10 million people receive Social Security disability benefits. While California residents may be concerned primarily with how much they may receive in Social Security retirement benefits, they should also prepare for the unexpected and learn how to calculate the amount they would receive if they became disabled.

In order receive benefits from Social Security, people need to pass certain work tests that require them to have been employed at a position in which they paid into Social Security through their payroll taxes. The recentness that a person worked is an important factor. Individuals who are younger than 24 years of age need to have worked at least one and a half years within the last three years while people between the ages of 24 and 30 need to have been employed for at least half of the period of time since they turned 21. Individuals who are 31 years old and older are required to have worked for at least five out of the previous 10 years.

SSD and workers' comp often go together

Most California employees who are injured on the job understand that they are entitled to benefits under workers' compensation laws. What could be surprising to some injured workers is that they have an additional potential for benefits through the Social Security Administration. While not applicable to every injured employee, some are leaving benefits on the table by not applying for Social Security Disability.

Workers' compensation is intended to be a temporary benefit program that gives eligible employees guaranteed medical treatment and a portion of their regular paycheck while recuperating or getting treatment for on-the-job injuries or work-related diseases. SSD is a total disability program through which eligible citizens can receive benefits if they are unable to work at any job for at least 12 months. If an employee becomes totally disabled after a work injury, they may be eligible for benefits in addition to workers' compensation. The work injury itself may not be responsible for a total disability finding. However, the claimant may become eligible for SSD benefits with the ailment is considered in conjunction with other unrelated physical conditions.

Can I apply for workers’ compensation and disability benefits?

Being injured at work is an extremely stressful occurrence. If you have a job that involves being physically active, your risk of being injured at work is highly increased from that of an office job. What's more, if you do become injured as a physically active worker, you are less likely to be able to return to work, because the injuries that you have sustained leave you unable to do your job.

When a person is prevented from returning to work because of the injuries that he or she sustained, it can be a disheartening experience. But it can also bring about fears in relation to finances. If you cannot work, then you cannot earn a wage. This is where people often become confused about what the correct process is when it comes to seeking benefits. Do they apply for workers' compensation, do they file for Social Security Disability benefits or is it possible to file for both?

Documentation is key to disability approvals

California residents who are out of work due to physical limitations often wonder about Social Security Disability and eligibility requirements. While there are many anecdotal stories about delays and nightmarish bureaucracy, the requirements and process for disability approval are rather straightforward. There can be delays, but having paperwork in order goes a long way toward streamlining the process.

Social Security Disability and Supplemental Security Income are programs designed to provide assistance to individuals having a condition or combination of conditions that will keep them from working for at least 12 months. Since these are not short-term or temporary programs, the duration of disability is the first threshold issue regarding eligibility. The impairment must be sufficiently severe to create functional limitations and restrictions on average daily activities. Activities of daily living include grooming and hygiene, cleaning, eating, driving, shopping and anything else typically included in regular life for the individual.

Understanding SSD back pay

Californians who are approved for Social Security Disability benefits will receive back pay of their monthly benefits that date back to the date that they were entitled to receive them. There are several factors that affect when the date of first entitlement is.

The Social Security Administration will first look at the date of the application. In the application for benefits, people list the date when their conditions left them disabled and unable to work. The agency calls this the alleged onset of disability. Next, the SSA will review the medical evidence in order to determine when the disability began. Finally, the agency looks at when the applicants were entitled after first applying the five-month waiting period.

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