Tag Archives: back injury and disability

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.

Posted in Personal Injury, Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Senate Committee Reveals Trouble with the Quality of Disability ALJ Decisions

Senate Committee Reveals Trouble with the Quality of ALJ Decisions

A recent article in the Washington Times discussed the increasing stress that the Social Security Disability system is operating under and how that stress has led to troubling problems affecting millions of Americans.

Investigators working for a Senate subcommittee examined hundreds of cases in which disability benefits were approved and found that those making the decisions frequently ignored warning signs such as incomplete or inconsistent information. Senators have said this review demonstrates the need for an overhaul of the existing system. One Senator said that the decisions from some administrative law judges (ALJs) were so bad that the final verdict seemed almost entirely arbitrary.

Though the first phase of this investigation involved looking over applications that were approved but should not have been, the Senate committee says it will next turn its attention to those cases that were denied and may have been denied wrongfully. Those in charge say they worry that they will discover the system is not helping many of the people it was designed to protect.

For its part, the Social Security Administration says it has work to do to fix problems in the system. However, they claim that outlier decisions occur far less often than they used to and the decisions of many ALJs are affirmed with much more regularity then ever before.

That may sound good, but problems still abound. The massive report showcased one ALJ from Oklahoma who has issued more than 1,000 decisions each year since 2006. Judge W. Howard O’Bryan Jr. peaked in 2008 with 1,846 decisions and regularly approved 90 percent or more of the claims. This compares to an average ALJ approval rate of about 60 percent. The investigation revealed that his decisions were notable only for their “poor quality” and how Judge O’Bryan often regurgitated the same boilerplate language in each case decision.

One case that apparently prompted the investigation, involved a man living as an adult “baby,” meaning he slept in an adult-sized crib and wore diapers. The man was collecting disability benefits despite having demonstrated carpentry skills and his ability to work with a reality TV show and a website for other adult “babies.”

The case of the adult “baby” highlighted another problem according to the Senate subcommittee and that is how out of date the list of jobs given to ALJs are. The list has not been updated since the 1970s and excludes many computer-related jobs that some people (possibly other adult “babies”) with disabilities might be able to perform.

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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Will I lose my disability when I go to prison or jail?

How Will Prison Affect My Disability Benefits?

When a person is facing incarceration there is surely a lot on their mind. If the person is receiving Social Security Disability benefits, one of the questions might be whether or not they can keep their disability benefits. The following information will help you better understand exactly what will happen to your Social Security Disability benefits if you are sent to jail.

The rules for suspending Social Security payments for people who are in jail are different based on which type of assistance you receive. The following is an explanation for how each system works:

• Supplemental Security Income

You can receive SSI payments until you have been in jail or prison for a full calendar month from the first of the month through the last day. For example, if you went to jail or prison on July 4, your SSI would continue during July and all of August. If, on the other hand, you went to jail prison on on July 1 then benefits would cease on August 1.

• Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI rules are different from those for SSI. You will be permitted to receive SSDI benefits until you have been convicted of a criminal offense and spent 30 days in jail or prison. This means that your disability payments will stop on the 31st day you are incarcerated after a conviction.

• SSI and SSDI

If you receive both an SSI and an SSDI check each month, your SSDI payments will stop after 30 days of incarceration following conviction, but your SSI will continue until you have been in jail or prison for a full calendar month, as in the description for SSI above.

Once you are released from jail, it is possible to have your Social Security Disability benefits reinstated. Your benefits can begin the month after you have been released from jail as long as you still qualify for the benefits you had been receiving. If your condition has improved and you no longer qualify, your Social Security Disability benefits will not resume.

To have your benefits reinstated after your release from prison, you will need to visit your local Social Security office and notify them of your release. You will need to bring proof of your release from jail before they can begin payment.

The exception to this rule is if you are in prison for more than 12 months. If you are in prison for more than 12 months, your benefits will not automatically be reinstated after your release. Instead, you will need to re-apply for benefits and go through the lengthy application process all over again.

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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Which medical records are the best for winning my disability claim?

What kinds of medical records do you need for your disability claim?  Before you can begin collecting disability benefits, the Social Security Administration requires that you prove that you are unable to work. The best evidence of this is, obviously, medical documentation. Medical evidence can take many different forms. These can include notes, mental health records, blood work, imaging studies, as well as a multitude of other reports. If you have timely, accurate, and sufficient medical records that come from your treating physician, you will greatly increase your chances of being approved for disability benefits. Each of these qualifiers – timely, accurate, and sufficient – has specific, SSA definitions.

Timely records are those that are relevant to your current medical condition. If you are attempting to claim disability for something that occurred last year, medical records from ten years ago would not be considered timely. Deciding what is timely falls within the purview of the treating physician. The nature of the ailment or condition is one factor in determining the timeliness of the records. If the condition is recurring or continuous, older records regarding the ailment or condition may be timely. If, on the other hand, the condition is one that resolves itself quickly or one that changes, older records may be less relevant and therefore not timely. The doctor knows best in these kinds of situations.

Accurate records are those that properly describe your condition according to acceptable medical sources. The Social Security Administration only accepts medical opinions from certain types of health care providers: (1) licensed physicians; (2) osteopaths; (3) optometrists; (4) podiatrists; and (5) speech pathologists. If the records or opinions do not come from one of these five kinds of health care providers, it may not, in many cases serve as acceptable medical source of evidence to the Social Security Administration. It is important to keep in mind that evidence from lay-persons, chiropractors and the like will be considered by the administration, however, these records will likely not carry as much weight as opinions from the aforementioned sources.

Finally, sufficient records are those that contain enough information for the disability judge to make a determination about your eligibility from those records alone. To be frank, the Administration wants to see that you have been treated for this condition prior to filing for disability. The treating physician’s notes and opinions carry the most weight with the Administration.

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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Can I work and get SSI disability at the same time?

Collecting Disability While On The Job

ticket_to_workMany people mistakenly believe that if you receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability benefits you have to be totally unable to work. That is not the case and it is possible to be gainfully employed and still receive some SSI disability benefits. The Social Security Administration applies a very precise formula to determine how additional income affects SSI disability benefits.

The first thing that the SSA does in calculating how work will reduce your SSI disability benefits is to disregard the first $65 of income that you receive in a given month. That threshold of income is bumped up to $85 if you do not have any other income. Next, your disability benefits are reduced $1 for every $2 of income you receive in a given month.

For example, in 2012, if you receive $250.00 a month in income and that is your only income, the Administration will calculate your benefits as follows.

• $250.00 – $85.00 = $165.00. This means that only $165.00 of your monthly income will figure into the calculation for reducing your benefits.
• $165.00 ÷ 2 = $82.50. This means that $82.50 will be reduced from your monthly benefits from the SSA.
• If you receive the maximum amount of $698.00 (subject to COLA increases each year) per month, your new benefit amount for the month will be $698.00 – $82.50, for a total of $615.50 per month.

If you require the use of additional items to help you work, the costs of those items can be deducted from your monthly income if: (1) you have paid for the items yourself; (2) you will not be reimbursed by your employer for those expenses; (3) you can provide the Administration with proof of payment; and (4) the Administration approves your expense. The Administration calls these items “impairment-related work expenses” and they are deducted before the Administration reduces the benefit amount by $1 for every $2 in earned income.

Blind disability benefit recipients can also receive special deductions for any of their work related expenses. The SSA calls these expenses blind work expenses. These are deducted after the monthly benefits are reduced.

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.

Posted in Social Security SSD/SSI | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments