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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. When can I expect a hearing on my claim?

Due to the large number of appeals in Social Security cases, it is often many months before each level of an appeal is decided. You are generally given several months notice prior to a hearing before an ALJ and you will be expected to attend that hearing unless you have an extraordinary reason why you cannot attend. The exact number of months between appeals varies from time to time and there is little that can be done by you or your lawyer to speed up the process in light of the huge backlog of cases waiting for a hearing. Once a hearing is held, the ALJ should render a favorable or unfavorable decision within ninety (90) days of the hearing.

Q. What is the difference between Social Security and SSI?

A. Both Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are programs of the Social Security Administration. Both SSD and SSI require the same basic requirement for coverage- an inability to work at any job for a period of twelve (12) months or more. SSD benefits are based on the taxes you have paid into the system before you became disabled. SSI benefits are based on financial need.

Q. What if I am getting Workers' Compensation benefits?

SS law requires that all other benefits you receive be accounted for. This accounting normally means that SS benefits are offset or reduced by the other benefits you receive. While Federal law requires you to report all payments you receive, the offset can often be lessened or eliminated with very careful planning and legal wording in your Workers' Compensation settlement. You should consult your lawyer for proper wording.

Q. Why won’t Social Security pay for my disability without an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing?

A. A very small number of applicants are awarded benefits in North Carolina before the ALJ hearing. Social Security (SS) decisions and opinions prior to the ALJ hearing are generally made by people who have never seen or talked to you. Many SS doctors will give opinions on your physical condition without the benefit of an actual exam. It is extremely important for you to maintain a good relationship with your treating doctor and to fully explain the reasons you are applying for Social Security. If you are persistent and have evidence of your medical disability, you will get your disability benefits.

Q. What if my disability is caused by alcohol or drugs?

Congress has passed legislation that severely limits the receipt of SS benefits if your substance abuse problems contribute to your disability. While the current law is very unfavorable to these types of claims, careful analysis by an experienced lawyer may help you to find other grounds that are legitimate reasons to qualify for SS benefits.

Q. Can a child disabled since birth get SS disability benefits even if he has never worked?

A. Yes. If the child is under age eighteen (18) and you are poor enough, he may be able to qualify for SSI child's disability benefits. If the child is over age eighteen (18), he may be able to qualify for SSI disability benefits without regard to your income. If you or your spouse get some kind of Social Security benefit or if your spouse is deceased, your son may be eligible for disabled adult child benefits.

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.