How do I show the SSA that I qualify for disability benefits?

disability_trophyIf you have an illness that you think should qualify you for Social Security benefits there’s one thing you and every other claimant must do regardless of your disability – provide sufficient proof that you actually are disabled.  The Social Security Administration defines disability as “the inability to engage in any ‘substantial gainful activity’ (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.” In other words, the claimant must both prove both that he has a disability and that it is severe enough to qualify for federal benefits.

First and most important, the claimant must provide documentation from “acceptable medical sources” of his condition. Licensed physicians are prime examples of acceptable medical sources and are capable of establishing all disabilities. Other medical professionals are permitted to act as acceptable sources but only in limited situations specific to their areas of expertise. For instance, a psychologist is competent to provide evidence for mental disabilities and a podiatrist is competent to provide evidence for foot issues, but not the other way around. Medical professionals who are “treating sources” i.e. professionals who’ve tended to the claimant over a long period of time, are deemed the most important sources of information.

Once the claimant has chosen an appropriate medical source to assist in making a disability claim, that medical professional must then hand over reports to the SSA. Such reports include medical histories, lab tests, and reports describing the claimant’s ability to perform “work-related” tasks.

Sometimes, the claimant is not able to get all the information he needs from his own doctors or medical sources that are available to him. The claimant is then permitted to schedule a Consultative Examination with either his usual treating source or another medical professional to obtain the specific medical information needed by the SSA. A complete Consultative Examination Report would include the following information:

• the claimant’s major complaint;
• a detailed description, within the area of specialty of the examination, of the history of the major complaint;
• a description, and disposition, of pertinent “positive” and “negative” detailed findings based on the history, examination, and laboratory tests related to the major complaint, and any other abnormalities or lack thereof reported or found during examination or laboratory testing;
• results of lab and other tests (for example, X-rays);
• the diagnosis and prognosis for the claimant’s impairment;
• a statement about what the claimant can still do despite his or her impairment; and
• the consultant’s consideration, and some explanation or comment on, the claimant’s major complaint and any other abnormalities found during the history and examination or reported from the laboratory tests.

If you think you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits and have questions, call The Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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How much does SSI pay per month?

How much will your Supplemental Security Income (SSI)  checks pay each month? Well, it varies as some states award additional income to the base amounts listed below. That being said, here are the amounts for 2012. Keep in mind that these amounts change each year in conjunction with the cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Social Security Administration SSI payout amounts for 2012:


Calculation details
Recipient Unrounded annual amounts for— Monthly amounts for 2012
2011 2012 a
Eligible individual $8,095.32 $8,386.75 $698
Eligible couple 12,141.61 12,578.71 1,048
Essential person 4,056.93 4,202.98 350
The unrounded amounts for 2012 equal the unrounded amounts for 2011 increased by 3.6 percent.


Payment reduction
Remember, these payouts are lowered depending on your countable income each year. If you are thinking of applying for disability benefits click for a free consultation or call 1-800-596-1533.

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Do I have to file a tax return on my SSI / SSDI Benefits?

It is tax time and I have been getting quite a few questions regarding past clients and their responsibility to pay taxes on their social security benefit checks.

Well, the rule is clear. You will have to pay federal taxes on your Social Security benefits if you file a federal tax return as an individual and your total income is more than $25,000.  If you file a joint return, you will have to pay taxes if you and your spouse have a total income of more than $32,000.  (see SSA.GOV)

What does this mean for the ordinary person receiving SSI / SSDI benefits? Well it all depends on whether you have other substantial income. This is what the Social Security Administrations has to say about taxes and SSD Benefits:

Some people have to pay federal income taxes on their Social Security benefits. This usually happens only if you have other substantial income (such as wages, self-employment, interest, dividends and other taxable income that must be reported on your tax return) in addition to your benefits.

No one pays federal income tax on more than 85 percent of his or her Social Security benefits based on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) rules. If you:

  • file a federal tax return as an “individual” and yourcombined income* is
    • between $25,000 and $34,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits.
    • more than $34,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • file a joint return, and you and your spouse have acombined income* that is
    • between $32,000 and $44,000, you may have to pay income tax on up to 50 percent of your benefits
    • more than $44,000, up to 85 percent of your benefits may be taxable.
  • are married and file a separate tax return, you probably will pay taxes on your benefits.

If you do have to pay taxes on your Social Security benefits, you can make quarterly estimated tax payments to the IRS or choose to have federal taxes withheld from your benefits.Each January you will receive a Social Security Benefit Statement(Form SSA-1099) showing the amount of benefits you received in the previous year. You can use this Benefit Statement when you complete your federal income tax return to find out if your benefits are subject to tax.


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Can I get disability for my child?

Can my daughter and/or son get disability benefits if they are disabled?

The only Social Security disability program that addresses disability for children is called SSI and it is resources based. That is, your income affects whether your child is eligible for benefits. For the income levels see: Does my income affect my child’s disability payments?

Ok, so you reviewed the income chart and you are now asking yourself, now what? Well, first go to your local Social Security Field Office and set-up an interview time. During the interview SSA will obtain a narrative from you regarding the timeline of your child’s medical history. For instance, you will be able to go into great detail regarding your child’s disability (e.g. diagnosis of high functioning autism or ADHD ). At this appointment you will provide address of the child’s treating physicians, telephone numbers, facilities, clinics, hospitals, and treatment dates.
Next the claim is reviewed by your state’s disability-processing agency for processing. If enough evidence is acquired from your child’s treatment notes then the BDD or DDS will make a decision without sending your child to a consultative exam with a physician.

Once a favorable decision is reached, your local Social Security office will contact you to make an appointment to review your income and resources in order to compare your income to the allowance chart in order to make sure that your income still qualifies your child to receive benefits.

In the unfortunate event that your child’s benefits are denied, call 1-800-596-1533 for a free attorney consultation.

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Can I get both worker’s compensation and Social Security disability benefits?

Can I get both worker’s compensation and Social Security disability benefits?

Workers’ compensation pays benefits to employees who suffer an injury at work or experience a work-related illness. Benefits for workers’ compensation include medical treatment and money for the partial replacement of lost wages. For an employee who cannot work while recovering from an injury or work-related illness, workers’ compensation can pay temporary total disability benefits. In cases in which the injury or work-related illness has long-term or permanent consequences, an employee can receive permanent disability benefits. When an employee dies as the result of an injury or work-related illness, then the employee’s dependents can receive survivor benefits. In general, workers’ compensation is a program run by state governments.

Similarly, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) provides benefits to insured workers with disabilities, or in other words, to those who: (1) have been employed for at least five of the last ten years; (2) have paid FICA (“Federal Insurance Contributions Act”) taxes; and (3) have a “disability” as the Social Security Administration defines the term. A disability, for purposes of Social Security, is a serious medical condition that lasts (or has lasted) for more than a year and prevents someone from being gainfully employed. In addition, SSDI will provide benefits to the disabled children of insured workers, so long as the children became disabled before they reached the age of 22, as well as to the disabled surviving spouses of insured workers who have died. Generally, SSDI is administered by the federal government.

A person can receive workers’ compensation and SSDI benefits at the same time, but workers’ compensation benefits might reduce the amount of SSDI benefits. Under the Social Security Administration’s rules, a person who receives workers’ compensation benefits and Social Security disability benefits at the same time may not receive combined benefits that amount to more than 80 percent of the person’s average current earnings before the person became disabled. For example, if a person earned $4,000.00 per month before becoming disabled, then the person would be eligible to receive $2,200.00 per month in SSDI benefits after becoming disabled. If that same person were also to receive $2,000.00 per month in benefits from workers’ compensation, then the person’s SSDI benefits would be reduced to $200.00 per month to comply with the Social Security Administration’s 80 percent rule.

If you have a current or potential worker’s compensation claim and are interested in applying for SSDI benefits, or if you simply want to be sure that you are receiving the maximum SSDI benefits for which you are eligible, then you should consider speaking with an attorney who has experience with Social Security law in order to minimize the off-set. Call the Nationwide Law Offices of John T. Nicholson at 1-800-596-1533 for a free consultation today.

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