If you have a medical condition that prevents you from working to support yourself, an
Akron Social Security Disability lawyer at Berger and Green could help fight for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) manages both programs, SSDI and SSI have different eligibility requirements.
You have to apply separately for each program. Some people qualify for both programs, but only if they meet the different standards for each.
You can call us today at (412) 661-1400 to find out if you might be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. We serve Akron and the surrounding areas.
What You Need to Know About SSA’s Disability Benefits Programs
People often confuse the two disability benefits programs that Social Security runs.
SSDI is for people who have a severe medical condition that prevents them from working. You can only qualify for SSDI if you accumulated enough work credits for the program. You collect work credits by having a job that pays Social Security taxes.
If you do not have as many work credits built up as you need to qualify for SSDI, you may have another option. The SSA has a safety net program to provide a small amount of support for people who are disabled—but are not eligible for SSDI. SSI has the same medical requirements as SSDI but does not require any work credits. Also, you must have low income and few resources or assets to meet SSI requirements.
Assets and Income for SSI
According to the SSA, the countable assets limit for SSI is $2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple. Not all of your assets count for purposes of SSI eligibility. For example, the house where you live and the land it sits on are exempt. You can have one vehicle for transportation, your clothing, and household goods. Other items are also exempt from counting toward the $2,000/$3,000 resources limit.
SSA does count things that you could use to pay for food or shelter as assets, like your cash and bank accounts.
In addition to the asset limit, SSI will only provide benefits if you have a very low income. Some types of income are not countable. Your countable income will reduce the amount of your SSI benefit. If you have countable income that is more than the Federal benefit level, you will not qualify for SSI benefits.
Who Can Qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Benefits
A common misconception is that SSDI is an insurance policy that people can purchase to help financially if they become disabled and cannot work to support themselves. SSDI is not an insurance policy in the traditional meaning of the term.
However, you can think of the deductions from your salary or wages as similar to insurance premiums. By paying those “premiums,” you can participate in the SSDI benefits program if you lose the ability to work, as long as you also meet all of the additional requirements.
The SSA will evaluate whether your situation meets the SSDI definition of disability using a five-step process:
- The SSA will see how much money you make. If you earn more than the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) amount, the SSA will say that you are not disabled, so you do not qualify for SSDI payments. The SGA for 2020 is $2,110 if you are statutorily blind and $1,260 if you are not blind.
- Your medical condition must prevent you from performing standard job functions, like standing, walking, thinking, and problem-solving.
- If your illness or injury satisfies the Blue Book severity test you will be considered disabled if you are not working above the SGA limits. The Listing of Impairments states the detailed parameters for hundreds of medical conditions and covers every system of the body.
- If SSA determines that you should still be able to perform your current job (or any former position), the SSA will likely deny your application for SSDI benefits.
- The SSA will explore whether your medical condition prevents you from changing careers or job descriptions if you have the skills to do so.
If you passed all of these tests and accumulated enough work credits during your employment history, you could qualify for SSDI benefits. You do not have to go through this challenging process alone. An Akron Social Security Disability lawyer from Berger and Green could help you apply for SSDI or appeal the denial of your application. You can call us today at (412) 661-1400.
What You Need to Know About Work Credits
You can earn up to four work credits a year. You get one work credit for every quarter (three-month block) in which you make enough money at a job that pays Social Security taxes. Your age determines the number of credits you need. Younger workers do not have to build up as many work credits as older employees.
For a free legal consultation with a social security disability lawyer serving Akron, call (412) 661-1400
What to Expect from the Appeals Process
There are four levels of the appeals process that you can navigate if necessary:
- Reconsideration: During this stage, you request that the SSA reconsiders the decision it made.
- Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge: If the SSA upheld its denial, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
- Appeals Council Review: If you do not succeed at the ALJ hearing level, you can ask the Appeals Council to review your case.
- Filing a Lawsuit in Federal Court: You can file a lawsuit if the Appeals Council upholds the ALJ’s decision.
Our team will manage this process on your behalf.
Akron Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me (412) 661-1400
How to Get Help After SSDI or SSI Benefits
An Akron Social Security Disability lawyer can fight your battles for you while you focus on your wellness.
Call Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400 for a no-cost consultation.