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THE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY BLOG

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P: 828-252-2852

How does the Social Security Administration determine if I am disabled?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) will consider you disabled if: (i) you have a medical condition (physical, mental, and/or psychological) that renders you unable to perform any of your past jobs, (ii) you cannot adjust to other work due to your medical condition including any job in the USA (regardless of location), and (iii) your disability has lasted (or is expected to last) for a period of twelve (12) months, or may result in death.

The SSA uses a five (5) step process to evaluate whether or not your impairment meets their criteria for being disabled.
Those five (5) steps are as follows:

  • Are you currently working? Effective 2013, if you are working and earning more than $1040 per month, you will not be considered disabled.
  • Does your medical condition prevent you from doing the work you previously performed?
  • Can you perform any other work considering your age, education, skills, and medical condition? Any job that exists in the USA is considered here, regardless of how far away from your current home.
  • Is your medical condition severe? In other words, does it significantly affect your ability to engage in certain activities such as walking, sitting, standing, stooping, bending, concentration, focus, etc.?
  • Does your injury or illness fall within the impairments in the Social Security Administration’s “List of Impairments?” The List of Impairments is a book that lists various medical conditions which automatically meet the Social Security Administration’s criteria of disabled, and provide guidelines for determining the disability of other injuries and illnesses.

Since the SSA may use the information in your medical records to determine any limitations on your ability to work, the information contained in your medical records may be critical in determining your disability claim. More often than not, your medical records will not contain adequate information regarding your functional limitations or restrictions. Therefore, it is extremely important for you to communicate information to your doctor regarding the difficulties you are experiencing and any specific limitations they impose on your abilities, such as your inability “to sit/stand/walk for more than 15 minutes,” “to bend or stoop,” “focus/concentration more than 1 hour at a time,” or your need to lay down and/or prop your legs up to reduce swelling for specific periods of time.

For purposes of eligibility for Social Security Disability, the Social Security Administration does not recognize partial disabilities or short-term disabilities.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY QUESTIONS

Q. What is an Administrative Law Judge Social Security Hearing?

A. Social Security hearings are held by a judge called an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The hearings are relatively informal and have no District Attorney or U.S. Attorney present representing Social Security. Some ALJs will ask questions, some will let your lawyer ask all the questions. All you should do is tell the ALJ what is wrong with you and why you are unable to return to work. The ALJ will hear all the evidence and make a decision based on your medical records and testimony heard at the hearing. Sometimes the ALJ will request a Vocational or Medical Expert to testify regarding hypothetical circumstances regarding your condition(s). Your lawyer should help you understand the issues, expected testimony and procedure.

Q. How do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?

A. You are eligible for Social Security disability benefits WHEN you have mental and/or physical problems severe enough to keep you from working for a period of twelve (12) months or more. You must be unable to work at any competitive job in the national economy, not just the one you had before your disability. Your age, education, past work experience, and ability to perform other jobs are among the factors that the Social Security Administration will consider in deciding your disability.

Q. Why does it take so long to get my SS disability application approved?

A. Huge numbers of applications, changes in the disability program, a lack of adequate resources have combined to slow down the appeals process. Most applications are rejected twice before getting to a decision maker that will actually interview and listen to the claimant. In 2004, the Commissioner of SS made aggressive moves to speed up the process by electronic filing, closed circuit television hearings, and other changes. Don’t lose hope because of long delays. If you are disabled for twelve (12) months or more, you will eventually be found to be eligible for SS disability benefits.

Q. Can I work for any period of time and still receive SS disability benefits?

A. Generally, No. You are required to report any earnings or substantial gainful activity to the SS office as a condition of receiving monthly disability checks. Congress has recognized the need for work incentives and has created several programs to encourage attempts to return to work without automatic loss of disability payments. You can review all SS programs under www.socialsecurity.gov/disabilityresearch for specific info.

Q. Can I draw Workers’ Compensation weekly checks and Social Security checks at the same time?

A. Yes, but your Social Security check will be reduced or offset by the amount of your Workers’ Compensation check. Social Security law mandates an offset of disability checks when your combined income totals 80% of more of your pre injury earnings. Federal law requires that you report all income or benefits that you receive while receiving Social Security checks. The offset or reduction in Social Security benefits can be lessened or minimized by careful planning and legal wording in your Workers’ Compensation settlement. You should consult a qualified lawyer to help you maximize your payments from each source.

Q. What happens in a SS disability hearing?

A. SS disability hearings are informal. The decisions are made by an Administrative Law Judge, most of whom live in Greenville, SC. The people likely to be present at the actual hearing are you, the Judge, a court reporter, and your lawyer. In some cases, the Administrative Law Judge has a medical doctor or vocational expert present to testify at the hearing. SS hearings do not have any jurors, spectators, or lawyers representing SS. Some hearings in Western NC are now conducted by closed circuit television by Judges who live all over the United States.

SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY VIDEOS

Our Video Library is not closed-captioned.  Instead of embedding our videos, we have created posts for them, where full transcripts of can be found. Click on the links below to view the video and its transcript.

Social Security Detail

Social Security – Detail

Social Security part 4

Social Security Part 4

Social Security part 3

Social Security Part 3

Social Security part 2

Social Security Part 2

Social Security part 1

Social Security Part 1

Rules Regarding Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Rules Regarding Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Social Security Hearing Timeframe

Resolution of Social Security Disability Cases: A Timeframe Overview

Contemporaneous Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Claims

Contemporaneous Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Benefit

Working While on Social Security

Social Security Disability and Your Employment

Appealing Social Security Denials

Appealing the Denial of Your Social Security Disability Claim

Work History Requirements

Work History Requirements for Social Security Disability

Drug and Alcohol Dependency and Social Security Disability

Drug and Alcohol Dependency and Social Security Disability

Child Eligibility for Social Security

Child Eligibility for Social Security Benefits and Social Security Insurance

The Administrative Law Judge’s Role in Social Security Disability

The Administrative Law Judge’s Role in the Social Security Appellate Hearing

Compassionate North Carolina Social Security Disability Lawyer

David Gantt describes his History in Helping People with Workers’ Compensation and Social Security Disability Cases

~ What Our Clients Say ~

Google Review 2020

April 8, 2020

My first time meeting Mr.Gantt, he was very open and honest about what it takes to get my SSDI. He was optimistic about my case. He walked me through what he needed on my part. I was very happy with the results of my hearing. I am very pleased with Mr.Gantt and definitely recommend his…

Yelp Review 2019

December 19, 2019

David Gantt and his staff were excellent very informative, kept me updated on every move and with this dedication I was able to win my Social Security hearing. Highly Recommend.

November 2019 AVVO Review

November 27, 2019

Amazing! When my husband was injured, we didn’t know who to turn to. I started googling to find a attorney, I called Mr. Gantt, I couldn’t be more thankful! The nightmare was over as Mr. Gantt and his amazing team handled everything from that very moment! Not only was professional but extremely caring, taking time…

November 2019 AVVO Review

November 27, 2019

David Gantt and his staff handled my disability claim and they were excellent. I highly recommend him, he is the best in Western North Carolina. Mrs. Kelly Reaves 5.0 stars November 5, 2019

October 2019 Martindale Hubble Review

October 29, 2019

David is clear, precise, and delivers as promises.

2019 Google Review

August 7, 2019

The entire staff were welcoming, knowledgeable, helpful, and nice people! David was professional. He knew exactly what he was talking about and did what he said he was going to do. I have had a wonderful experience with this firm and will not hesitate to use them in the future.

2019 AVVO Review “Get ‘er done Gantt!”

July 10, 2019

I was very satisfied with David Gantt’s expertise and knowledge in all aspects handling my case. He dealt with all the paperwork and contacted all necessary providers to get my medical history – it was extremely hassle free! He communicated and counseled me on what to expect – being very forthcoming (he’s a straight shooter)!…

2019 Facebook review

June 5, 2019

I highly recommend Mr. Gantt. He is very kind and always professional. He prepared me for my disability hearing and calmed my nerves. Everything happened exactly as he said it would. I honestly do not think that I would have been approved for disability without his help. Also, his office staff were always ready to…

2019 Google Review

May 28, 2019

Mr. Gantt took good care of me. I will be forever grateful for him getting me the social security payments I need for a disability due to military service. He seems like a genuine compassionate good man. I highly recommend! ~C.M.

2019 Google Review

May 10, 2019

David and his entire staff are so nice and show compassion to everybody. He was there when I had any questions. David Gantt is the best attorney in his field, he goes above and beyond. I am extremely grateful to him and his staff. ~M.H.

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

Very nice and friendly service. They always answered any of my questions. Had a great experience working with them on my disability case. I highly recommend there services! After trying for 6 years and 2 unfavorable decisions, David and his team did a great job representing my case and won. I appreciate there time and…

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

The whole office is very respectful. Answered all my questions. So Glad they were there cause I had no clue after fighting for 2 years. Thank you guys soo much. ~K.H.

2019 Google Review

May 9, 2019

I am very grateful to David Gantt & his staff! They were wonderful and made the confusing process much easier to understand. I wish I had contacted them sooner. They were super to work with and such nice people! Thank you so much! ~K.S.

Avvo Review 2019

May 7, 2019

Mr. Gantt is a highly compassionate and professional lawyer. He worked hard for me to show my disabilities. Always pleasant and supportive, while being very much on top of his cases. I recommend David Gantt to anyone. Great Attorney! 5 Stars. ~ Dakota

Google Review 2019

April 10, 2019

Wonderful client services..very friendly and willing to go the extra mile to help clients. highly recommend him for anyone needing assistance for the Disability SSI. ~T.D.

2019 Google Review

April 9, 2019

I am so grateful to Mr. Gantt & his staff. They have been so professional and knowledgeable. They’ve answered all of my questions and made a very stressful situation, bearable. I would not hesitate to recommend Mr. Gantt. He is knowledgeable, professional & caring. ~J.H.

Avvo Review 2019

April 8, 2019

Linda Calloway Mundy David Gantt is an outstanding Lawyer. I highly recommend him. He was beside me all the way and I would like to thank him. ~Linda 5 Stars

2019 Google Review

March 9, 2019

David Gantt and his staff are very professional, upfront, honest and nice. They made me feel at ease discussing my case. They helped me with every step of the way towards my disability approval. I would recommend them to anyone. They kept me updated on everything. Just wish I had contacted them sooner. ~D.P.S.

2019 Google Review

February 10, 2019

When I applied for Social Security Disability I saw no reason that I would need a lawyer since my case seemed clear. It wasn’t until the second rejection that I realized that I had no idea how the system worked. A couple of local lawyers I had contacted suggested that I talked to David Gantt…

2019 Google Review

February 10, 2019

This office is fantastic. The staff is helpful and friendly. He is honest with you about the pros and cons of your case. He works hard to get a positive result. ~S.G.