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When a person is catastrophically injured or seriously ill, they are placed in a difficult financial situation. People who have worked full-time jobs for many years to support themselves and their families may no longer be able to do so. Still, others have suffered through disabling conditions since birth. Regardless of the situation, if a person is disabled and unable to work, the federal government provides a pair of programs to assist people in need. Sadly, these programs can be difficult to access and properly utilize.

A Burlington Social Security lawyer is here to help. Whether a person has recently become disabled and is thinking about applying for the first time, or has had a prior application denied, an experienced attorney works to guide individuals through the system and to increase their chances of success.

Social Security Disability Benefits

There are two federal programs that are grouped together into Social Security Disability Benefits:

  • Social Security Income (SSI)
  • Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)

Both of these programs require that the applicant be unable to participate in any substantially gainful activity. This means working any job for at least 30 hours per week. The conditions themselves must be reasonably expected to result in a person’s death. Alternatively, they must have lasted for at least 12 months, or be expected to last for at least a year. Where the programs differ is in their requirements for work history and total family income.

The SSI program does not require that the applicant have any work history. In fact, many children also apply under this program, despite never having the ability to work at all. The main sticking point is a person’s personal assets. The limit for a single person is $2,000 worth of assets, while a married person can have $3,000. This essentially means that a person must no other means of supporting themselves, including having a working family member in the house. There are additional, more rarely contested requirements that can be found here.

Work Requirements

SSDI retains the medical requirements but adds on a requirement of having a significant work history. If a person worked full-time for 10 years prior to becoming disabled, this will not be an issue. It is when a person has been limited to part-time work for the past few years that the issue becomes more complicated.

Additionally, there is no total asset test for SSDI applicants; a person may even have a working spouse and still qualify for the program.

A Burlington social security lawyer helps individuals to better understand these work requirements and which program is best for their needs. Some applicants can even apply for both programs.

What are the Medical Requirements?

Qualifying as disabled under Social Security rules means that a person must be unable to perform any work for at least 30 hours a week. This does not mean that a person cannot work their former job. For example, a warehouse worker who has a degenerative disk issue in their back that causes chronic pain will need to demonstrate that the condition prevents them not only from warehouse work, but from performing a desk job.

Any loss of income is also not a disqualifier. A person who used to make $100,000 per year is not disabled if they can perform a minimum wage job. Many people also think that they need a physical disability to be classified as disabled. In fact, many successful applications are centered on mental disorders.

Severe depression, schizophrenia, or even anxiety can all be at the core of disability claims. In these cases, consistent therapy sessions and treatment through medications may be key medical evidence. Regardless of the exact nature of the disability, the most important thing is to obtain consistent care from a doctor. Merely having a diagnosis is insufficient: a person must be under a treatment plan and show no substantial medical improvement.

Only by doing this can a person prove that their condition is severe enough to warrant a finding of disability.

How a Burlington Social Security Attorney Can Help

The application process for any Social Security disability program is a lengthy and complicated one. The initial application is just the first step as the case workers will want to receive updated medical records, work history information, and daily activity trackers. All of this paperwork can quickly overwhelm people who are not familiar with the process.

A Burlington Social Security lawyer assists individuals with filing this paperwork correctly and on time. By gathering all of the evidence in the case, the experienced attorney is able to efficiently and powerfully argue the case to the Social Security Administration. Even if a case is denied at the outset, the lawyer perseveres on an applicant’s behalf, all the way through a judge’s hearing. Whether your case has been denied in the past or you are thinking of applying for the first time, contact a Social Security lawyer today.