How does Social Security Make its decision?
Social Security uses a five-step process to decide if you are disabled. The five-steps are as follows:
- Are you working at or above the Substantial Gainful Activity level? If so, you are likely to be considered not disabled. If not, go to step 2:
- Is your medical or psychological condition “severe”? If not, you are likely to be considered not disabled. If so, go to step 3:
- Does your severe medical or psychological condition meet or equal a Listing (a regulatory standard) of Impairment? If your condition(s) do not meet or equal a listing, you are likely to be considered not disabled; go to step 4:
- Can you do the work you did before, given your medical and/or psychological limitations? If you can do past work, you are likely to be considered not disabled. If you cannot do past work, go to step 5:
(However, special rules apply at age 50 and older that may make easier to win your case.)
- Can you do any other type of full-time, regular and/or continuous work? If you can do such other work, you are likely to be considered not disabled.
For more information about the five-step process, see our blog post here.
What is Vocational Rehabilitation and why should I do it?
Vocational Rehabilitation is a state program whose purpose is to help unemployed and/or disabled persons find jobs. Typically, an unemployed or disabled person meets with a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor. This Counselor looks at a person’s education, skills, and job history and then comes up with a plan that will help that person get back into the work force. Sometimes, in order to put together a plan, the Counselor will have the person take some tests, such as job interest tests, aptitude tests, IQ tests, and/or psychological tests.
The plan may include job placement at lighter jobs or at less skilled jobs. The plan may include educational opportunities such as learning a new trade, obtaining a GED, or college classes. Usually, if the plan recommends further education, the state will pay for that education. Also, if the plan recommends accommodations, such as equipment to help the disabled person work, the state will pay for that equipment.
If you go through Vocational Rehabilitation, and they find you a job you enjoy, you may not need Social Security Disability Benefits. If they cannot find you a job, then that is more proof that you need Social Security Disability Benefits.
For more information about Vocational Rehabilitation, see our blog post here.
How can I survive the wait if I do not have any income?
Forbes Disability Group, LLC does not have an easy answer to this question. We believe it is a tragedy that disabled people are treated so poorly in this country. The Congress of the United States is mostly responsible for this problem, because it has not provided enough funding to the Social Security Administration so that it may function properly.
There are several practical things that you can try to do:
Call 211. It is a toll-free system that will help you locate agencies that can help you with housing, food, utilities, and medical care.
Go to your local Welfare Office, where you can:
- apply for Food Stamps
- apply for Medicaid (They may also provide guidance on how to obtain other health insurance through the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)
- receive information about the various programs they have for families and children.
Apply at your local housing authority for low-income housing.
Go to the township trustee’s office for help with medicine, utilities, and other expenses.
Call Community Action and ask for help with heating bills and other matters.
Apply at local homeless shelters, food pantries, and other local charities for help.
Seek medical help from free health clinics such as Faith Community Health Clinic in Angola, Indiana; St. Martin’s Health Clinic in Garrett, Indiana; or Matthew 25 in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
In extreme medical situations, consider moving to another state with a more favorable Medicaid system, or a better non-Medicaid state health plan.
If you cannot pay for medical treatment, the hospital emergency room is required by law to treat you for emergency medical problems. However, you will eventually receive a bill for the treatment from the hospital.
Look at special prescription drug plans, such as the ones provided by Walmart, Meijer, and/or Kroger (among many others).
Contact your local Lion’s Club for eyeglasses and/or The Shriners for rides to medical appointments.
Join a faith community, such as a church or synagogue.
If child support is not being paid, contact your local Prosecutor’s Office for help in collecting delinquent support.
If financial problems are extreme, then you should also see a bankruptcy attorney to explore your options.
How many levels of appeal are there?
Generally there are three levels of appeal. They are:
- Hearing by an Administrative Law Judge
- Review by the Appeals Council
Other levels of appeal are available in the United States Court System. Randal S. Forbes in his capacity as an attorney for Forbes Law Office appeals select cases to the United States Courts.
For more information about the Levels of Appeals, see our blog post here.
If you have more questions related to Social Security Disability Benefits and it’s processes, please contact Forbes Disability Group, LLC today.