disabled child being fitted for hearing aid

Is Your Child Entitled to SSI Child Disability Benefits?

In some cases, children can be entitled to SSI Child Disability benefits. Should your child qualify and be awarded SSI benefits, then you must set up a separate bank account that is in both your name and your child’s name. SSI back pay is only to be used for things for your child. Let’s talk about more on how you can find out whether your child may be entitled to SSI Child Disability benefits or not.

Is Your Child Entitled to SSI Child Disability Benefits?

The SSA will ask a number of questions to determine whether your child is entitled to SSI child disability benefits. First, it will need to be determined whether your child is engaging in substantially gainful activity. In 2021, this would mean that your child was earning $1,310 or more per month. If this is the case, your child would not be declared disabled and, therefore, would be unable to receive SSI Child Disability benefits.

The SSA will also need to know whether your child has a medically determinable mental or physical impairment or some combination of impairments. Furthermore, the SSA will need to determine whether your child’s mental or physical condition meets or would be considered medically equal to the requirements outlined in the Child Medical Listing of Impairments. Due to the fact that medical listings can be very technical, even more so for children sometimes, a child case may be reviewed by medical experts.

Should your child have a mental or physical impairment that does not meet or equal a medical listing of impairments, there may still be a chance that he or she will qualify for benefits. An adjudicator or Administrative Law Judge will make a determination as to whether the functional limitations created by your child’s mental or physical impairments are the same as those of any of the child medical listings. If this is so, it will be determined that your child’s impairments are functional equivalents to a qualifying listing. In other words, should the combined effects of your child’s impairments be the functional equivalent to a listed qualifying condition, then this could be used to determine that your child is disabled and would qualify for benefits.

To determine whether your child’s impairments are functional equivalents to a child medical listing, then the adjudicator or Administrative Law Judge will look to see whether the physical or mental impairments of your child yield two marked limitations or one extreme limitation among the following areas:

  • Acquiring and using information
  • Attending and completing tasks
  • Caring for yourself
  • Health and physical well-being
  • Interacting with and relating to others
  • Moving and manipulating objects

In order to develop a strong case that your child’s impairments are functional equivalents to a qualifying child medical listing, evidence must be gathered to support this assertion. There are a variety of evidence types that may be used for this, including:

  • Teacher observations noted in questionnaires
  • Notes from after school tutors or daycare providers
  • Individual Education Programs (IEPs)
  • Behavioral modification plans
  • Section 504 plans from schools
  • Findings by treating medical and mental health professionals
  • Testimony from your child
  • Testimony from you as the child’s parent

Arizona Social Security Disability Attorney

If you are trying to get disability benefits for your child, talk to the team at Roeschke Law. Contact us today.

social security disability

The Importance of Medical Records in Your Social Security Disability Case

The process of applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a lot to handle on your own. There are forms that need to be properly completed. There is evidence that needs to be submitted. The Social Security Administration (SSA) must have all of the correct information and evidence it needs to render a decision on your application. Failing to provide the right information or enough information to the SSA will often lead to your claim being denied or at least significantly delayed in being approved. When you are disabled and waiting on SSA benefits, any delay can not only cause a great deal of stress but can also increase the financial strain you may already be under. To help improve your chances of being approved for benefits, you should be aware of the key pieces of evidence the SSA will look to in evaluating your claim. Medical records, for instance, will play a critical role in your Social Security disability case.

The Importance of Medical Records in Your Social Security Disability Case

The importance of medical records in your Social Security disability case really cannot be understated. In order for the SSA to be able to deem you disabled and qualified to receive disability benefits, they must be able to find, based on the medical evidence, that you have a “severe, medically determinable impairment.” The physical or mental condition must be expected to last for 12 months or for the duration of your life and must be so severe that it interferes with your ability to engage in substantially gainful activity.

The medical records you provide to the SSA should document your medical history and include your symptoms and the limitations placed on you by your medical conditions. To help ensure that your medical records provide the right information to the SSA, you should be clear with your treating medical professionals, including physicians, psychiatrists, and nurse practitioners, about the details of your medical conditions as you experience them. This means informing them about the limitations and symptoms you experience.

In addition to being important to your own health and well-being, attending all of your scheduled medical appointments is critical to your disability case. The records generated by your appointments will be critical to supporting your application for benefits. Complying with doctor recommendations for treatment, taking medications, attending physical therapy, and getting the proper radiographic studies such as x-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and other lab work done is all important as is following up in seeing doctor recommended specialists.

Social Security regulations themselves state that more weight should be given to the medical opinion of treating sources. These sources hold a lot of sway over the outcome of your disability claim. Be sure that you are consistent in receiving treatment for them and that they include details of your impairments in your medical records.

Do not make the mistake of some claimants who think that simply informing the SSA that you are disabled and unable to work is enough. It is not. This assertion must be supported with strong medical evidence. While your testimony may have some impact in front of an Administrative Law Judge rendering a decision on your disability claim, it will not have enough of an impact without medical records to support what you are saying.

Arizona Social Security Disability Attorney

Roeschke Law is here to help you build up a successful application for Social Security disability benefits. Contact us today.

consultative examination

What Is a Consultative Examination for Social Security?

Have you been notified by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that you need to appeal for a consultative examination (CE)? You may be excited that your disability application appears to be moving forward, but may also be anxious about the CE and what it might mean. You see, a CE is most often required by the SSA when an application for disability benefits lacks sufficient medical evidence to determine whether a qualifying disability exists. Regardless, however, it is in your best interest to prepare for an attend the CE so that your disability benefits claim has a better chance at being successful.

What Is a Consultative Examination for Social Security?

Disability Determination Service (DDS) is the agency tasked by the SSA to assist with rendering disability determinations. It is, in fact, DDS that will make the request for you to attend a CE or to take additional tests if it finds medical records supporting your disability to be lacking or if the medical evidence provided is deemed to be out of date.

The SSA will pay for a CE and it is often performed by an applicant’s treating physician. Should your physician lack the requisite skills and equipment to complete the CE, then DDS will make arrangements for the CE to be performed by another CE. DDS also commonly has a physician other than an applicant’s treating physician perform a CE when that treating physician has provided unclear or confusing reports or has given DDS some other reason to be distrustful of the physician. In all cases, a CE must be performed by a licensed physician or a medical professional being supervised by a licensed physician.

Over the course of a CE, the physician or examiner will ask you questions about your medical history and current complaints. A physical examination will also be conducted. Any specific tests requested by DDS will also be performed. The report generated as a result of the CE will contain details regarding your medical history as well as your treatment history and lab findings. The report will also note the results of the CE physical examination and an estimation regarding your ability to engage in work-related functions. No treatment recommendations will be rendered as a result of the CE as it is only an assessment.

If you are applying for disability benefits based on a mental impairment, which can include conditions such as depression and anxiety, SSA may order a mental status examination (MSE) instead of a CE. An SSE is a psychiatric or psychological consultative exam. The MSE itself will include an intelligence test, such as an IQ test and may also include other neuropsychological tests. The psychiatrist or psychologist performing the MSE will also test your ability to concentrate and follow directions as well as your memory and judgment.

Disability Attorney

If you are trying to navigate the Social Security disability application process, it can feel like  a number of requests such as a request for a CE or MSE crop up along the way. The dedicated team at Roeschke Law is here to help you during what can be a stressful and overwhelming time. Contact us today.

income limit

What Is the Income Limit for SSDI?

If you or a loved one suffers from a mental or physical disability that prevents engaging in consistent gainful work, then you have likely been exploring your options for government benefit support. The Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) program is available to individuals who can no longer work because of a physical or mental disability and have paid taxes into the Social Security system for a minimum number of years. Upon approval, a benefit recipient will receive monthly SSDI payments which are based on their earning records.

What Is the Income Limit for SSDI?

In order to be eligible for SSDI benefits, you must fall below a certain income level. What income, however, is included for purposes of calculating SSDI benefit eligibility? Well, it may be better to start with what is not included in this calculation. You see, the SSDI program does not limit the amount of assets or unearned income an applicant or benefit recipient may have. This differs from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program which is geared specifically towards disabled individuals with low income and financial resource availability.

Unearned income refers to a variety of income sources. For instance, unearned income includes income generated from investments, a spouse’s income, and interest accrual. You can also hold an unlimited amount of assets and still qualify for SSDI benefits.

While there may not be a limit on the amount of assets or unearned income an SSDI applicant or benefit recipient may receive, there is a limit on the amount of earned income generated by such a person. This is due to the fact that a person who earns a substantial income is not considered disabled for Social Security disability benefits purposes. Substantial income results from what the SSA refers to as “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). If a person earns over a certain amount, then he or she is said to be engaging in SGA and will not qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In 2021, the SGA limit is set at $1,310 for disabled SSDI applicants and $2,190 for blind applicants. The SGA limit is based on the national average wage index. 

While the SGA limit is intended to help ensure that only truly disabled individuals are receiving these benefits, it is not intended to discourage a benefit recipient from trying to go back to work and transition out of the need for receiving SSDI benefits. The SSA does not want the fear of hitting income limits to deter benefit recipients from trying out a return to work. This is why the trial work period was established. For those benefit recipients who want to try out a return to the workplace, but do not want to jeopardize the receipt of benefits should things not work out, the trial work period acts as a safety net for such a situation.

When in the trial work period, which extends nine months out of a 60 month period and does not necessarily have to be consecutive, an SSDI recipient can try to go back to work without jeopardizing disability benefits. For 2021, any month that an SSDI recipient earns over $940, it will be considered a trial work month. When an SSDI recipient reaches nine months of earning over $940 during the trial work period, then the SSA begins reevaluating the person’s work to determine if it reaches the SGA limit. If it does reach the SGA limit, then SSDI benefits will be paid out for a grace period of three months and then terminated.

Disability Attorney

The specifics of SSDI qualification can be difficult to unravel. That is why the trusted team of disability attorneys at Roeschke Law is here to help you. Contact us today.

widow

Can a Widow or Widower Receive Disability Benefits?

Having a spouse pass away can leave a void you may feel deeper than you could have even imagined. On top of the emotional impact of losing a spouse, there can be some tough financial realities to confront. The loss of a spouse can also come with a loss of critical financial support provided by that spouse. Surviving husbands and wives may be left wondering how to make ends meet. Fortunately, for those surviving spouses of deceased disabled workers, there may be survivor disability benefits available

Can a Widow or Widower Receive Disability Benefits?

Yes, a widow or widower may be able to receive survivor Social Security benefits, both disability benefit and retirement benefits. Here, we will focus on the survivor disability benefits. Eligibility for such benefits will depend on a number of factors, including the benefit being sought. Furthermore, the spouse must have been married to each other for a minimum of one year in order to qualify. 

First, there is the Mother’s or Father’s Benefit which may be available to the surviving spouse. If the deceased spouse was eligible for disability benefits, then the surviving spouse of the deceased worker may be able to get a monthly benefit check if he or she is charged with caring for at least one child of the deceased spouse who is under the age of 16 or who is disabled. If the disabled child is over the age of 22, then the disability must have arisen prior to the age of 22. Generally speaking, the deceased spouse must have worked a minimum of 10 years out of the past 20 years in order to be eligible for disability benefits. There is, however, a special rule which provides that if a deceased spouse worked for at least one and a half years in the three years preceding death, then the Mother’s or Father’s benefit will be paid out. This benefit ceases when the child turns 16 or is no longer disabled.

There is also the Widow’s or Widower’s Benefit which may be available to the surviving spouse. If the surviving spouse was married to the deceased disabled spouse for a minimum of one year prior to death and the deceased spouse was either receiving or entitled to receive SSDI at the time of death, then the surviving spouse can get this benefit if the surviving spouse is either disabled and between 50 and 60 years of age or the surviving spouse is 60 years or older. If the surviving spouse is between 50 and 60 and disabled, the disability must have arisen within 7 years of the deceased spouse’s death. It may be important to note that this benefit will end if the surviving spouse remarries. Alternately, the benefit will end if the surviving spouse becomes eligible to receive notably higher Social Security benefits on his or her own record.

Last, but not least, the surviving spouse may be entitled to a lump sum death benefit. The surviving spouse must have been living in the same household as the deceased, disabled spouse. If the deceased spouse was entitled to Social Security benefits at his or her time of death, then the surviving spouse will receive one lump sum death benefit that can total upwards of several hundred dollars.

Disability Attorney

Have you lost a spouse who was receiving disability benefits you came to financially depend on? Do not hesitate to reach out to Roeschke Law and find out what survivor benefits may be available to you. Contact us today.

social security disability benefits

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?

Navigating the Social Security disability benefits application process is no easy feat. The requirements are specific and detailed. Many, if not most, applicants get initially denied and thus have to go on to maneuver the appeals process. Once you have been granted disability benefits, you will likely feel much-needed relief. While Social Security disability benefits can provide critical financial support to those in need, there are other consequences, such as tax consequences, that benefits recipients should be aware of. We will discuss more on that here.

Are Social Security Disability Benefits Taxable?

In some cases, Social Security disability benefits are taxable. This depends, however, on the type of disability benefits you receive. It also depends on your overall level of income. You see, there are two benefit programs that the Social Security Administration runs for individuals with disabilities. The two programs are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income).

SSI is financial assistance for disabled and other qualifying individuals who have low incomes and limited financial resources. The money comes from the U.S. Treasury as opposed to Social Security taxes, even though the Social Security Administration runs the program. SSI benefits are not subject to income tax.

On the other hand, however, you have SSDI. SSDI is taxable under certain circumstances. This hinges almost exclusively on your level of income. Whether or not you will pay tax on SSDI benefits is based on, as the Internal Revenue Service refers to it, your “provisional income.” Your provisional income is calculated using the sum of your adjusted gross income, your tax-exempt interest income, and half of the amount you get in Social Security benefits for a particular year. If these numbers add up to less than $25,000 per individual taxpayer or less than $32,000 for a married couple filing jointly, there will be no tax consequences for receiving SSDI benefits that year. 

For those individuals with provisional incomes at $25,000 or more or for married couples filing jointly with provisional incomes at $32,000 or more, there will be tax liability for SSDI benefits and the amount will range on a sliding scale based on your provision income. For individuals with provisional incomes ranging from $25,000 to $34,000 and couples with provisional incomes of $32,000 to $44,000, up to 50% of your SSDI benefits will be subject to taxation. Alternatively, for those individuals with provisional incomes at over $34,000, 50% to 85% of your SSDI benefits will be subject to taxation.

In reality, the majority of SSDI benefit recipients do not face tax consequences for receiving these benefits. This is due to the fact that most benefit recipients are out of work due to their disabling condition. In fact, the Social Security Administration reports that only approximately one-third of disability benefit recipients end up paying taxes on those benefits, usually due to the income generated by a household member such as a spouse. 

Disability Attorney

Do you have disability benefits questions? Roeschke Law has the answers you are looking for. Contact us today.

disabled person holding railing

What Is Presumptive Disability for SSI Benefits?

The process for applying for SSI benefits can be lengthy in and of itself. Gathering the necessary documentation and properly filling out all of the forms can feel like an endless task. Once you have completed your application, however, the wait time can also be extensive. It is not uncommon for the Social Security Administration to take several months to process an SSI disability benefits application. Meanwhile, applicants are left financially struggling as they wait on word of their status for qualifying for these much-needed benefits. SSI is, after all, a program designed for disabled individuals and other qualifying individuals who have low enough incomes to be granted benefits under this need-based program. The good news may be that certain medical conditions may qualify an applicant for advance payments while their application is pending. These are referred to as presumptive disability (PD) benefits.

What Is Presumptive Disability for SSI Benefits?

When an applicant for SSI benefits has a certain qualifying medical benefit and seems more likely than not to be approved for SSI benefits, he or she may be granted presumptive disability benefits which are advance payments made while the official decision on the application is being made. These payments can go on for up to 6 months and usually do not have to be repaid. Even when an applicant who receives presumptive disability benefits ends up being found not medically qualified to receive SSI benefits, it is not usually required that he or she repay the presumptive disability benefits.

A determination that an applicant should be awarded presumptive disability benefits is made based on the severity of the impairment claimed as well as the strength of the medical evidence provided in the disability benefits application. Certain conditions that often merit presumptive disability benefits include:

  • AIDS/HIV
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Spinal cord injury that requires the use of a walker or similar mobility assistance
  • Terminal illness with a less than six months life expectancy
  • Total blindness
  • Total deafness

In order to receive presumptive disability benefits, there is no need to file a separate application. The determination will be made right from your SSI application filing. Once your application is filed, the initial review will be conducted by a Social Security Administration field office and it is this office that will usually make the presumptive disability benefits determination. Disability Determination Services (DDS), however, are ultimately responsible for either approving or denying disability claims and are also empowered to render decisions on presumptive disability benefits. While field offices are usually limited to granting presumptive disability benefits to applicants with conditions such as those listed above, DDS is granted broader discretion and can award such benefits to applicants with other conditions or impairments. 

Presumptive disability benefits will cease once the SSA has rendered a decision on your SSI application or in six months, whichever comes sooner.

Disability Attorney

If you have disability benefits questions, Roeschke Law is here to help. Contact us today.

woman with fibromyalgia

Can You Be Eligible for SSD Benefits if You Have Fibromyalgia?

While some disabilities are very visible, others are more difficult to recognize. Fibromyalgia is a disease that may be harder for others to recognize, but it often impacts the individual in significant ways. 

What Is Fibromyalgia?

Those who suffer from fibromyalgia generally experience tenderness and muscle pain throughout the body. This is also commonly accompanied by other issues with memory, mood, fatigue, sleep issues, restless leg syndrome, sensitivity to light, noise, and temperature, issues with bladder or bowel control, and numbness and tingling in the arms and legs. 

Additionally, while a physical condition, fibromyalgia is commonly associated with mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Although fibromyalgia is a very real disease, it is often diagnosed after ruling out other causes of one’s pain. Currently, the causes of fibromyalgia remain unknown, though many believe there are both environmental and genetic components.

If you suffer from fibromyalgia it can be debilitating and prevent you from being able to work. But luckily, it may also qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. 

Qualifying for SSD Benefits

Despite the significant impact that fibromyalgia can have on your life, it’s important to understand that being diagnosed with the disease doesn’t mean you will automatically receive SSD benefits. Rather, it’s the decision of the Social Security Administration (SSA). The SSA will look at its “Blue Book” requirements when making this determination. 

Blue Book Requirements

The SSA will look at the Blue Book to see if the applicant meets the following criteria:

  1. A history of widespread pain that has persisted for a minimum of three months. This does not require that pain be constantly present or to the same degree. Widespread pain includes pain in all quadrants of the body. 
  2. A minimum of 11 positive tender points on a physical examination. These points must be located on both the left and the right sides of the body, above and below the waist. (The physician must test the tender-point sites per the requirements of the Blue Book). 

Contact a Medical Professional if Experiencing Symptoms

If you are suffering from chronic, widespread pain throughout your body, as well as extreme fatigue or any other of the abovementioned symptoms of fibromyalgia, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. In addition to managing your disease, this medical record is a requirement for determining if you meet the Blue Book standards.  

The Arizona SSD Attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC Can Help

When you are struggling with a disability that prevents you from working, you may not know what to do. Luckily, the attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC can help. We understand the impact that a disability can have on your ability to make ends meet. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

military officer on computer

Can Your Military Pay Impact Your Eligibility for SSD Benefits?

For those whose disability makes them unable to work, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can prove to be a true lifeline. But for current and former members of the United States military, the receipt of pay, pensions, and disability compensation can raise concern over whether their SSD benefits will be impacted. 

What Type of SSD Benefits Are You Applying For?

Whether a military member’s compensation will impact their ability to qualify for SSD benefits is dependent upon the type of Social Security benefits for which they apply. There are a couple of different types of social security disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Receiving military pay will not affect a veteran’s ability to receive SSDI. However, it can impact their ability to receive SSI.

When looking to apply for SSD benefits, you should first consider your income level. This income can come from multiple sources: pay, pensions, and disability compensation. Those on active duty may receive regular pay and those who have given 20 years or more of service may receive a pension. 

VA-Determined Disability Does Not Guarantee SSA Disability Status

Military veterans may receive monthly benefits from the VA’s disability program. However, simply receiving benefits for this disability program does not automatically mean that they will be approved for SSD benefits by the Social Security Administration (SSA). However, veterans’ claims will be expeditiously processed. 

With any type of disability benefit, the applicant must provide proof of their disability. SSDI is for those applicants who can show that they are unable to maintain gainful employment and have worked long enough and have enough work history “credits” to qualify. What you currently earn would not be held against you in terms of eligibility for SSDI benefits. 

Understanding what types of benefits you may be eligible for can be a bit confusing. You want to receive the most benefits possible without causing yourself to be ineligible for Social Security Benefits. After all, you’ve given so much to your country – you deserve to be given something in return. That’s why a knowledgeable and experienced Social Security Disability attorney can be so helpful. He or she can help you to understand which benefits you may be eligible to receive. 

The Arizona SSD Attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC Can Help

When you are a former or current military member and are struggling with a disability that prevents you from working, you may not know what to do. Luckily, the attorneys at Roeschke Law, LLC can help. We are so grateful for the hard work and immense commitment that our military service members have given to our country and understand the impact that a disability can have on your ability to make ends meet. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!

social security disability claim

What Is the Five-Step Process SSA Uses to Determine Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) must first determine that an individual has a total disability before approving them for the receipt of disability benefits. This determination is made through a five-step process in which an applicant is reviewed to be disabled or not at each step. The central, defining aspect of disability for the purpose of social security disability benefits is whether or not an applicant retains the ability to work. Let us go through the five-step process the SSA uses to determine disability.

What Is the Five-Step Process SSA Uses to Determine Disability?

The first step is determining whether the disability applicant is currently engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). The amount which constitutes SGA changes year to year. If an applicant is working and generates an average monthly income exceeding the SGA level, then he or she will not be found to be disabled. If the applicant makes less, then the SSA moves on to step two of the determination process.

The second step is an evaluation as to whether the applicant has a severe physical or mental condition. The applicant must have a medically determinable impairment, either physical, mental, or both, that is both severe and meets the durational requirement. A severe condition is one that prohibits the most basic of work-related functions. The durational requirement is that the condition must be projected to last at least 12 months or be terminal. If either of these criteria is not met, then the individual will not be found to be disabled. If both are met, then the SSA will move on to step three of the process.

The third step of the process involves a determination of whether the applicant’s medical condition either meets the severity of a social security disability listing or is found to be equivalent to such a listing. In the SSA’s blue book, there is a list of medically determinable physical and mental impairments and criteria that must be met in order for a listing to be satisfied. An individual’s condition must either meet one such listing or be found to be the equivalent to such a listing in order for the SSA to move on to step 4 of the process.

Prior to moving on to step 4, the residual functional capacity (RFC) of the individual will be determined. This is an analysis of the individual’s ability to participate in and retain full-time work. In step 4 of the determination process, the SSA looks to whether the applicant can still perform any of his or her past relevant work (PRW). This involves lining up the applicant’s RFC alongside his or her PRW to see if the applicant retains the ability necessary to participate in past jobs. If the applicant is unable to do so, then the SSA moves on to the final step of the disability determination process.

The last step, step 5, asks the question of whether the individual can adjust to any other kinds of work. A number of factors, such as age, work experience, education, and training, as well as the applicant’s RFC are considered in this determination. If it is found that the applicant cannot adjust to any other work, he or she is determined to be disabled.

Arizona Disability Attorney

The disability determination process can be complex and hinges greatly on the information you provide to the SSA. At Roeschke Law, we assist in presenting the strongest case to the SSA so that you can access those disability benefits which you seek. We are not only here to help you understand the Social Security disability process, but also to successfully navigate the process. Contact us today.