Will Social Security Eligibility Standards Tighten Further?


A recent article in Kiplinger Magazine predicts big changes for Social Security in 2016, with the program’s disability fund an area of primary focus. Without Congressional action, the fund is expected to run short by the fall of 2016. Many insiders predict that Congress will enact tighter Social Security disability eligibility standards as a compromise to provide the necessary funding.
At our Greenville Social Security disability law firm, we can’t predict which way the political winds will shift, but we do know that people who qualify for benefits are too often denied what is rightfully theirs. Here are just a few of the issues:Social Security Card

Claim Backlogs

If your disability prevents you from working, you need to file for benefits as soon as you can to support yourself and your family. Unfortunately, the large backlog in Social Security disability claims means that many people wait a year or more in order to get a final determination. The process can take a long time. Be prepared to wait.
With every application, staff who are often overworked need to answer the following questions:

  • Is the applicant currently working and earning income?
  • How severe are the applicant’s injuries or diseases?
  • Does the applicant’s disability meet the threshold requirements?
  • Can the applicant continue working in a previous job ? If not, are there others jobs he can perform in the national economy?

These questions require time and attention to answer.  What’s more, Social Security Administration staff will often need to undertake development to effectively answer these questions. SSA may send you out for a medical exam at government expense. Be sure to attend. This process can take weeks and months of mailing paperwork back and forth between various offices.

Lack of Medical Records

To approve an application, SSA must have evidence that your disability is severe enough to prevent you from working and will last long enough to keep you out of work for at least 12 consecutive months. SSA will also look to see whether your medical condition may result in death. Depending on the nature of the disability, it may take a lot of medical evidence to substantiate this.  Never stop seeing your doctor. He is your best friend during the application process.

Performing Substantial Gainful Activity after Filing an Application

Do not work while your application is pending before Social Security.  Making as little as $1,090 per month in income can result in a denied claim. Even the occasional job or odd job is frowned upon.
In view of the complexities of the system,  you need experienced legal assistance on your side. With over 35 years of experience handling disability claims, Attorney J. Robert Surface can help you navigate the complex SSA system. For a free consultation to discuss your case, contact our office online.