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Am I Disabled?

physician helping patientThe first and most important question you can ask before starting the process for seeking Social Security disability benefits as an adult is a very simple one: “Am I disabled?”

This is not an easy question for your Baltimore Social Security disability lawyer to answer since it depends on so many factors beyond the mental or physical impairments that challenge you.  Your work history, age, education, language abilities, medical documentation, and the judge reviewing your case are all important factors in answering this question.


Work History

Your work history will determine the types of Social Security disability benefits you may be eligible to receive and will have a significant impact on the judge’s decision on your claim.  The judge will look at your earnings record for the past year.  Every year, the Social Security Administration determines the maximum monthly dollar amount you can earn without being considered able to sustainably take care of yourself.  The Social Security Administration set this amount at $1130 for 2016 (or $1820 for people who are statutorily blind).  There are ways for a knowledgeable Social Security disability attorney to make some adjustments to your income if your earnings are close to the line.  But if you regularly earn more than $1130 (or $1820 and blind) performing any kind of work, you will probably earn too much to be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.

Your work history will determine which types of Social Security disability benefits you might be able to receive.  The two major types of Social Security disability benefits are Title 2 benefits based on a type of insurance for workers and Title 16 benefits which are based on income limitations.  Your ability to apply for Title 2 benefits depends upon whether your work history shows that you earned a certain amount of money every three months over the course of ten years (40 quarter-years) and had Social Security taxes withheld from your paycheck.  Counting these periods can be a complicated process, and certain workers may not be eligible based upon whether Social Security taxes were taken from their paychecks.  Fortunately, the Social Security Administration will usually determine this eligibility factor on their own.  Title 16 benefits are far more broadly available, but are intended to provide only minimal income to the disabled person and are determined based upon your income and household assets.

The final way your work history will affect your claim is in the judge’s evaluation of your claim.  When considering all the factors of your claim, the judge will look at the physical and mental demands required by the work you used to do, how long you did a particular job, the skills you used to do the work, your ability to use those same skills to another type of job, and whether there are many similar jobs within our region.


Your age is a very important factor in determining your eligibility for Social Security disability benefits because it changes the assumptions that the administrative law judge is allowed to make about your ability to return to work or perform other jobs.  The Social Security Administration divides the different age groups as follows:

  • 18-49: “Younger Age”
  • 50-54: “Closely Approaching Advanced Age”
  • 55-59: “Advanced Age”
  • 60+: “Closely Approaching Retirement Age”

Age alone does not really say much about you or how you can take care of yourself or work.  However, these kinds of easily identified guidelines help the Social Security Administration add a small amount of predictability to what is usually a very subjective decision.

A regular point of misplaced anger at the system comes from people whose first claim or first few claims for disability benefits are denied, but who eventually are granted disability benefits.  In so many of these cases, the person applying for Social Security disability benefits got older during the applications process, changed age brackets, and only then became eligible for benefits.

Education and Language Abilities

Your level of education and ability to understand the English language are considered important factors in determining the likelihood you may be able to get a job in our region.  The Social Security Administration breaks these areas down as follows:

  • Illiterate: Unable to read or write more than your name in English, or little formal education.
  • Marginal: Education up to 6th grade or below. This indicates you have some ability to perform the reasoning, mathematic, and language skills to perform simple, unskilled jobs such as a laborer or factory worker.
  • Limited: Education from around the 7th-11th grade levels. This indicates you have some ability to perform the reasoning, mathematic, and language skills to perform many more complex job duties needed to perform semi-skilled and skilled jobs such as truck driver.
  • High School and Above: Having a 12th grade or higher education level.  This indicates you have some ability to perform the reasoning, mathematic, and language skills to perform most of the more complex job duties needed for performing semi-skilled and skilled labor jobs such as an office worker.

Medical Documentation

Your medical treatment history and documentation will frequently be a very strong factor in getting a favorable judgment on your claim for Social Security disability benefits.  Administrative law judges will pay attention to your testimony about the mental or physical impairments you suffer and how they affect your ability to work and take care of yourself.  Even so, your ability to show a consistent history of seeking treatment for your problems will make your testimony more convincing for the judge.

Some factors judges consider include: the type and length of medical treatment you received, the medications you were prescribed and how you used them, your history and duration of complaints about different problems, and both if and how much the treatment you received improved your condition.

Your Judge

The particular administrators and administrative law judge reviewing your claim may have a significant impact on whether your claim for Social Security disability benefits succeeds.  While these people are not physicians, it is their job to review the work history, medical records, and other information in your claim and attempt to determine whether you are capable of working on a sustainable basis.

All in all, the question of whether you are disabled can be a difficult one to answer.  The Social Security Administration has its own set of rules for making this determination based upon a combination of your work and medical histories.  People found disabled by other government entities such as the United States military, Veterans Affairs, or labor boards making workers’ compensation decisions will not necessarily be considered disabled when claiming Social Security disability benefits.

When consulting your Baltimore Social Security disability lawyer, make sure you are ready to discuss your work history, age, and education and English language abilities.  Your attorney may help you secure copies of your medical records, get important testimonial statements from your medical care providers, and help you with your testimony before an administrative law judge.  Applying for Social Security disability benefits can be a long and challenging process, and you will want help.


Baltimore Social Security Law Firm Discusses Proof You Can’t Do a Sedentary Job

Baltimore Social Security Law Firm  Gavel If you are disabled and unable to perform the duties of a sedentary job, contact your Baltimore Social Security law firm to help you file a disability claim. If you are under the age of 50, it may be difficult to prove that you are unable to work a sedentary job but not impossible to prove. In order to receive disability benefits you will need to be able to prove that your disability keeps you from performing quality work at a sedentary job.

What Is a Sedentary Job?

A sedentary job is one that requires you to perform easy tasks, typically at a desk. At a sedentary job, you will not be required to lift more than 10 pounds of weight at a time.


In order to receive disability benefits, you will need to prove that your disability keeps you from being able to work a 40-hour work week at a sedentary job and produce quality work for the employer. You may not be able to do work a sedentary job if:

  • Leg, neck, or back pain prevents you from sitting for long periods of time.
  • If pain in your hands or fingers prevent you from being able to grasp objects, which may be required at a sedentary job.
  • If pain in your arms or shoulders prevent you from being able to reach or handle objects required to be successful in your position.
  • If painful flare-ups cause you to miss too many working days.
  • If your chronic fatigue does not allow you to keep the pace necessary to handle the job.
  • If you need to frequently leave your workstation to stretch or use the restroom.

Contact a Baltimore Social Security Law Firm

Contact your Baltimore Social Security law firm to see if your condition applies. For help from an experienced professional, contact your local Baltimore Social Security law firm today from Disability Benefits, Inc. at (800) 899-7040. Disability Benefits, Inc. is the Baltimore Social Security law firm that will help you fight for the best possible outcome in your disability case.

Answers about Supplemental Security Income from a Baltimore SSD Attorney

Baltimore SSD Attorney gavel and moneyAlthough you have probably heard of the Social Security Disability program and might be considering applying for disability benefits, there is a separate disability program that your Baltimore SSD attorney might tell you about as well. It is called Supplemental Security Income, or SSI, and you may apply for it along with applying for Social Security Disability. If you don’t qualify for Social Security disability, you might consider applying for SSI instead. Supplemental Security Income is a federal welfare program like SSD, but unlike SSD, it is paid out of general revenues and may be supplemented by the state you live in. A Baltimore SSD attorney will explain the requirements of SSI to you and how they are different from SSD, but in general:

  • You must be deemed “disabled” under the same definition as SSD (stated simply, that you have a medically determinable impairment that prevents you from engaging in any amount of substantial work activity).
  • You must meet certain income and asset requirements.
  • You must be a United States citizen.
  • You must file an application.

What Are the Income Requirements?

Unlike within the SSD program, applicants can work while receiving SSI benefits. If you receive income, your monthly SSI benefit will be reduced so that your total income does not go over a certain amount. There is a ceiling on how much you can earn and still be eligible for SSI benefits, which your Baltimore SSD attorney can tell you. Certain types of unearned income, such as food stamps, educational grants or scholarships, and certain state and local welfare programs, do not count toward this limit. In addition, a portion of your earned income, specifically the first $65 of monthly wages and then one-half of wages exceeding $65, do not count toward this limit. The idea is that you can still work and earn up to a point and still be eligible for SSI benefits.

Is There an Asset Requirement?

There is a cap on the total amount of assets that a person can own and still be eligible for SSI. The cap is $2,000 for a single person and $3,000 for a couple. Importantly, there are many exclusions such as houses and cars that typically do not count toward this cap.

What about SSD at the Same Time?

It is possible to qualify for and receive both SSD and SSI at the same time, as your Baltimore SSD attorney can explain. However, since SSI amounts are adjusted based on unearned income (which includes SSD), the total income from both programs will not exceed the SSI benefit amount plus $20. This does not necessarily apply during the waiting period before a claimant has begun to receive SSD benefits. During this period, if other income is low enough, it is still possible to receive SSI benefits in lieu of SSD.

Contact a Baltimore SSD Attorney

For more information on whether you might qualify for SSI and how to apply, talk to a Baltimore SSD attorney at Disability Benefits, Inc. Call  800-899-7040.

Waiting for a Disability Check? Our Baltimore Social Security Lawyer Can Help

social security card and cash Baltimore Social Security LawyerIf your Baltimore Social Security lawyer has helped you secure Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, you’re probably looking forward to cashing your first check. However, payments are occasionally delayed. If you haven’t received benefits or a Notice of Award after 45 days, here’s what you can do.

  1. Contact your local congressional office. Senators and congressmen have dedicated staff members who are responsible for dealing with the Social Security Administration. An official inquiry can speed the process.
  2. Have your Baltimore Social Security lawyer contact the supervisor at your local Social Security office. Usually, this person can contact the payment department to push your benefits though the system.
  3. Alternately, you or your attorney can contact the payment center directly. If you live in Maryland, you’ll need to send a fax to a specific processing module within the Baltimore Office of Central Operations (OCO). This module is based on your Social Security number.

The Social Security Administration advises SSD beneficiaries to contact the OCO by fax if they have not received a Notice of Award 45 days after a disability hearing. If you don’t receive a response after 45 more days, send a second fax directed toward the designated module. Be sure to include a copy of your original correspondence. You may repeat this process again after a third 45-day period. This time, direct the fax to the Division Program Manager. Finally, as a last resort, you may contact the Center for Program Support at 410-966-0715 after another 45 days. Be sure to include copies of all previous faxes.

Contact a Baltimore Social Security Lawyer

You are free to contact the Social Security Administration yourself, but you can also have an attorney do the work for you. If you’re an SSD beneficiary and haven’t received a check, call Disability Benefits Inc. today at  800-899-7040. Mr. Pilla is an experienced Baltimore Social Security lawyer who will work with you to recover the benefits that you deserve.

Are You a Self-Employed Disability Claimant? Let Our Baltimore Social Security Lawyers Help

There are millions of self-employed individuals in the United States, and Baltimore Social Security lawyers regularly encounter seriously injured people who can no longer work. Filing for disability benefits or supplemental income benefits is a daunting process that can take months or years to complete. As a self-employed person you may face even more difficulty because Social Security administrators tend to be skeptical of claims by the self-employed. If you were injured and cannot work, a Baltimore Social Security lawyer can help you evaluate whether or not you have a valid claim for disability benefits.

Your Baltimore Social Security lawyer will start by analyzing various factors that will determine your eligibility, including: the type of services your business provides, your income level, and the value of the work you provided. Regardless of the nature of your business, the Social Security administration will base their decision on whether or not you are unable to perform “substantial gainful activity.” For hourly or salaried employees, it is relatively easy to calculate gainful activity based on a simple calculation of their earnings. Conversely, self-employed people earn income that is dependent on numerous factors that can complicate the evaluation. Aspects of self-employment that affect income and benefits eligibility include:

  • Market conditions
  • Capital investments in the business
  • Services provided by other people (contractors and subcontractors)
  • Contract agreements that affect profits and losses

Regardless of whether you are a sole-proprietor or you work for a small partnership or company, you may be entitled to financial assistance if you are unable to maintain gainful employment as a result of disabling injuries. At Disability Benefits, Inc. our attorneys have years of experience helping injured workers apply for Social Security benefits. We also routinely assist claimants who were denied benefits. If your claim was denied, you must act quickly to appeal the decision. In most cases, you only have 60 days to challenge the denial. Failure to do so means that you will have to start the entire claim process over again and further delay receipt of necessary benefits. Don’t let this happen to you.

Contact Our Baltimore Social Security Lawyers

Attorney Ken Pilla and his talented team of Baltimore Social Security lawyers are here to answer your questions. Call 800-899-7040 for a consultation.