Impacts of Other Disability Programs on Social Security

I am often asked questions about other disability programs such as workers compensation, veterans benefits, and private disability policies and their potential impact on one’s eligibility for Social Security Disability.

In general an award for service connected disability through the VA, a workers compensation disability rating, and a private disability plan will not interfere with your eligibility for social security disability benefits.

However the standard for receiving benefits for each program are different and qualifying for one will not automatically qualify an individual for benefits from the other. Social security will always make their own determination of your disability independent of other government agencies, workers compensation ratings, or private insurance policy decisions.

Even claimants with an unemployable rating from the Veterans administration will still have to again prove their eligibility for disability through the social security program. Although Veterans are given expedited processing of their claims.

when dealing with workers compensation the amount of workers compensation you receive may have an impact on the amount of benefits you can receive from social security. However, it is imperative to start your claim as soon as possible to prevent any lag time between the expiration of your workers comp benefits and the beginning of social security benefits.

For individuals receiving private long term disability benefits you are also still eligible for disability benefits. And again as always it is always best to start your application as soon as possible in case your long term disability benefits lapse unexpectedly.

Early Retirement and Disability
If you are an older claimant 62 years of age or older and thinking about collecting early retirement because of an inability to sustain work. It is important to contact an attorney before making any determinations because you may be able to fight for your disability payments while collecting early retirement.

Claimant’s collecting early retirement can suffer as much as a 30% reduction in benefits when compared to their potential disability payments. In order to minimize that reduction we can file a claim a claim for disability, which if successful will allow you to recoup benefits lost due to the early retirement penalty.

Returning to Work

At Bailey & Galyen we understand that a disability determination isn’t necessarily a life sentence. Often times during the appeal process or even after an award things change and individuals may want to attempt to re-enter the work force.

At social security you are eligible for benefits if your injuries or impairments have kept you from working for a period of 12 months or more. This is called the 12 month durational requirement. Social security defines working as performing sustained gainful activity. Sustained gainful activity is presumed if you are making more than $1,120.00 per month. However, there is an exception that allows a person to attempt to re-enter the work force without breaking the 12 month durational chain.

This exception is called the unsuccessful work attempt. Essentially if you are forced from your employment because of your impairments for a significant period of time, typically over 30 days, any subsequent employment can be classified as an unsuccessful work attempt if the work stops because of your impairments within 6 months. It is important to understand that in order for the work to to qualify as an unsuccessful work attempt the work must stop because of the impairments within 6 months.

Once the 12 month durational requirement is satisfied or after an award of disability has been granted, social security provides a second avenue for claimant to attempt to re-enter the work force.

This avenue is called the trial work period. A trial work period allows for a disabled individual to attempt to re-enter the work force and earn over SGA amounts for a period of 9 months. During this trial period a claimant previously awarded SSDI benefits will continue to receive benefits. If a claimant’s appeal is pending then the work will not interfere with a potential finding of disability for that time period. If you are unable to continue your employment within the 9 month period then you will simply continue receiving benefits as you were prior to commencing the trial work period.

If the work extends past the nine month trial period then you can still pursue what is called a closed Period of disability benefits.

A closed period of disability means we will only pursue benefits for the time you were unable to work due to your impairments. Its is called a closed period of disability because it has a definitive beginning and ending date and you are not pursuing continuing benefits. A closed period of disability benefits applies if you were out of work for at least 12 months due to an impairment but successfully returned to work at a later date.

Do You Need an Attorney to File for Social Security?

The Short answer is No. Anyone can start an application for Social Security disability benefits at your local office or online. However just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do something. The Government Accountability Office or the (GAO) recently released a study of hearing level awards for social security disability claims. The study revealed that claimants who had representation at their social security hearings were awarded at a rate nearly 3 times higher than those of claimants who proceeded without representation. The Study focused on a tmie period from 2007 through 2015,” and During that time 77% of claimant’s at social security hearings had attorney representation.

At Bailey & Galyen we have long championed the value of personal, quality, experienced representation at social security, but it is gratifying to have validation from an official source.

The report goes on to quotes social security officials stating, that a representative can help the claimant by ensuring that the medical evidence and other records are fully developed and help the claimant present their case at a hearing”.
This is true at Bailey and Galyen we have a dedicated team of attorneys and staff focused on ensuring that all medical documentation is provided to social security prior to any determination at every level.

In addition to medical records social security will also want detailed descriptions of your ability to function and your work history. Our attorneys will review ALL Paperwork prior to its submission to social security to ensure your limitations, work history and medical documents are accurate and timely.
Now more than ever, it is imperative that you have an experienced, qualified, and hardworking representative on your side when applying for disability benefits. If you are hurt, injured, or unable to work please contact us at Bailey and Galyen for a free case evaluation.

You can ride a horse without a saddle, but I wouldn’t recommend it.