The Complicated State Of Veterans’ Disability Benefits

If you are a veteran receiving or seeking VA disability benefits, you probably are already aware of the complicated state of the program. Veterans’ benefits, administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), provide critical help to those whose service-connected disabilities make it difficult to earn a living or carry out daily living activities. But the process of applying for benefits, appealing denials, and taking advantage of those benefits once approved is complex.

The confusion begins when applying for benefits. If you get denied, which happens to many veterans the first try, the confusion continues throughout the appeals process, which can easily stretch to a year or longer. When you finally get approved, your compensation level is unpredictable, and it is rarely secure — the VA can reevaluate your case at any time. And you might have to travel for miles to enjoy certain benefits, such as healthcare.

A VA disability lawyer can help you simplify your benefits and make sense of them. Call 865-566-0800 for a free case evaluation with the Disability Advantage Group.

The Application and Appeals Process

The confusion that is VA disability starts long before you receive your first benefit check. The application process is full of uncertainty. If the VA denies your claim, a common occurrence for first-time applicants, the appeals process is even more complex. While the VA offers approval guidelines for various health conditions, many of which seem simple, it is known for being erratic and arbitrary when approving and denying claims.

So, how can you cut through the confusion and enjoy the best chance of approval? A good general rule to follow is the more evidence you have, and the more clear it is, the better off you are. It is better to overwhelm the VA with proof of your eligibility than to omit anything that could help your case. A disability lawyer can help you build a thorough and compelling claim.

Recent Changes to the VA Disability Appeals Process

As maddening as the VA can be, you have to give it some credit. In 2017, recognizing that wait times had gotten out of control, it overhauled its disability appeals process, giving more control to veterans over how their appeals get handled. Now, when you file a VA disability appeal, you have a number of choices on how to submit it:

  • You can submit it to the same review queue that evaluated (and denied) your initial appeal, but with new evidence and supporting documents, ideally bolstering your claim.
  • You can submit it to a higher-level review queue (but cannot include new information or evidence).
  • You can appeal directly to the Board of Veterans’ Appeals (BVA).

Based on the specifics of your claim and the reason for your denial, a VA disability lawyer can offer advice on where to submit your appeal. Some good news is that, so far, the overhaul is achieving its stated aims. Regardless of which lane they choose, veterans are reporting much shorter wait times between submitting an appeal and hearing a decision.

Unpredictability in Benefit Levels

When you finally emerge from the other side of the byzantine application and appeal process, your approval in hand, the confusion goes away, right?

If only it were that simple.

Veterans’ disability is as complicated for current recipients as it is for applicants. It starts with the lack of predictability or stability in your benefit level. Depending on a number of factors, your monthly compensation could be anywhere from under $200 to more than $3,000 per month. The benefit level you receive may not be what you expected to receive or what you believe you deserve. Moreover, even if you are approved for a high benefit amount, it is subject to change at any moment.

If your approval of VA disability benefits was for a lower compensation level than you believe you should have gotten, or if the VA has notified you it is reevaluating your benefits, no doubt to determine if it can lower your monthly award, a VA disability lawyer can help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Lack of Convenience in Receiving Benefits

Veterans’ benefits include not only monthly compensation but also perks such as free healthcare. If you are a veteran with a service-connected disability, and you are approved for veterans’ benefits, you can receive treatment for your condition for free at a VA facility.

But it is not always as simple as making a short drive to your nearest hospital.

Many veterans have complained that their assigned VA hospital — where they must go to receive free healthcare guaranteed by their benefits — is hours from their home address. For veterans with mobility issues, often the result of their service-connected injury or illness, an inconveniently located medical facility can effectively take away the ability to receive free healthcare to which they are entitled.

If you are having difficulty taking advantages of your VA disability benefits because of logistical challenges, a lawyer can help.

Disparities in Benefit Spending by State

Something as arbitrary as the state you live in can have substantial implications on how well taken care of you are as a disabled veteran.

According to an NPR analysis from 2013, states vary wildly in how much they spend on veterans. For instance, while West Virginia spends almost $7,700 per veteran per year, Delaware spends less than $4,600, even though in both states veterans make up 10% of the population.

Call 865-566-0800 Today for a Free VA Disability Case Evaluation With the Disability Advantage Group

The VA disability lawyers at the Disability Advantage Group can help you navigate the complicated system of veterans’ benefits. No matter the issue you are facing, we want to help you make the most of your VA disability. For a free consultation and case evaluation, call us at 865-566-0800.

How To Answer Questions On Disability Forms

To receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income, you have to fill out a lot of forms. You can do this online, over the phone, or in person at your local Social Security office. If you do it over the phone or in person, a Social Security representative can help you. However, knowing how to answer questions on disability forms is not always straightforward.

You can work with a disability lawyer to fill out your application and gather supporting documentation. Given the low approval rate for first-time disability applicants, it can be a bog help to have an attorney go over the forms with you and help you put together the most compelling claim possible, backed by strong evidence.

Regardless of how you choose to apply, it is essential to fill out the disability forms correctly and not omit any critical information. Here are some of the major items you can expect to encounter when applying.

Questions About Your Disability

The main Social Security disability form, called the Adult Disability Report, will ask a lot of questions about your disability itself. You should be as clear and thorough as possible when answering these questions. The more accurate information you give, the better your chances of approval.

The Date You Became Disabled

You need to know the date you became disabled. This is important for accuracy’s sake and because it may determine the date your benefits officially begin. That is, once you get approved for disability, you may be eligible for back pay starting from the date you became disabled. You want this date to be accurate, so you get all the benefits you deserve.

Other Benefits You Are Receiving

You will be asked about any other benefits you are receiving. These may include:

  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Civil Service Retirement
  • Federal Employees’ Retirement
  • Federal Employees’ Compensation
  • State Disability
  • VA Disability

Medical Records

The form includes a lengthy section to describe your medical records, including your diagnosis, medical tests you have undergone, and doctors’ observations. It is important to fill this out thoroughly and to attach supporting documentation to back up any claims you make. Your lawyer can help you collect the medical evidence you need to supplement this section.

Questions About Your Employment History

You will also need to answer a number of questions about your employment history. Social Security disability is granted only to people the SSA believes are incapable of working due to their disability. That is why it wants to know about your employment history: so it can decide if you are capable of returning to any job you have done before.

List of Jobs You Have Held

The Adult Disability Report asks not only about your most recent job, but about the last five positions you held over the past 15 years. If you have not been in the workforce for 15 years, you will need to list every job you have ever had.

Make sure to compile this list carefully and include every job (up to 5), even those you held for only a short time. If you do not list it and the SSA happens to discover it, that can reflect poorly on you.

Education and Training

In addition to your work history, the SSA also wants to know about the education and job training you have received. With this information, the SSA can match your skills to available jobs it believes you can do even with your disability.

What If You Get Confused or Do Not Know How to Answer?

If you get stuck on a question when filling out a disability form, you are better off consulting with a lawyer than trying to guess how you should answer. One erroneous or insufficient answer may be all it takes to sink an otherwise solid application.

Supporting Documentation You Need to Submit With Your Disability Forms

The SSA requires you to submit a number of supporting documents with your claim. This list will get you started, but is by no means exhaustive:

  • Birth certificate or proof of birth
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or legal alien status
  • W-2 or self-employment tax forms from the most recent year
  • Medical evidence: diagnoses, doctors’ statements, lab test results, and so forth
  • Proof of workers’ compensation or other disability benefits you have received

For a Free Consultation, Call the Disability Advantage Group at 865-566-0800

The disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group can help you apply and get approved for Social Security disability. We will go through the application process with you, make sure your claim is thorough and compelling, and help you gather and submit all the evidence you need.

For a free case evaluation with a member of our team, call us at 865-566-0800.

Can a Bill Collector Garnish Disability Benefits?

Except in rare cases, bill collectors cannot garnish your disability benefits.

Which Disability Benefits Are Subject to Garnishment?

Disability income comes from two primary sources: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI protects you if you become disabled during your working years. Part of the Social Security taxes you pay on your income go toward this program. Because SSDI is a type of government insurance and not a welfare program to help the needy, you cannot receive benefits unless you have a sufficient work history and have paid into the system. SSI is a public welfare benefit and you may qualify even if you do not have a sufficient work history.

Bill collectors may not garnish your income from SSI under any circumstances, but they can garnish your SSDI benefits in rare cases:

Back Taxes

The IRS garnishes certain Social Security benefits through its Federal Payment Levy Program (FPLP). Under the FPLP, the IRS may take 15 percent of Social Security benefits. But beginning in October 2015, the IRS no longer includes SSDI benefits in the FPLP.

Student Loans

Your SSDI benefits may be subject to garnishment for unpaid federal student loans. Even if it has been decades since you were in school, the government can take part of your SSDI benefits to satisfy unpaid student loan payments. However, your first $750 in benefits is protected from garnishment for non-tax debt.

Child Support

You can have your SSDI benefits garnished for back or current child support payments.

Can a Creditor Garnish Disability Funds in My Bank Account?

In addition to garnishing your wages, creditors can sometimes levy funds from your bank account to satisfy debts. To garnish funds from your bank account, a creditor needs a court order. The creditor presents it to the bank, which grants access to your account to retrieve funds. However, the creditor should not touch funds from Social Security disability benefits.

As you can imagine, complications frequently arise. Because your bank account likely contains funds from disability income and other sources, a chance exists that a creditor might garnish funds that came from SSDI or SSI.

The federal government passed new laws in 2011 to prevent this scenario. In response to the new laws, banks must earmark funds from SSDI or SSI as off-limits to creditors.

One way to protect your SSDI or SSI benefits is to ensure the SSA electronically deposits the funds into your account. This makes it easier for the bank to protect these funds from garnishment.

Social Security Disability Help From the Disability Advantage Group

Need help getting the Social Security disability benefits you deserve? Call 866-615-5465 to speak with a qualified lawyer who can help.

How Does Marriage Affect Social Security Benefits?

If you are planning an upcoming wedding, you may wonder how marriage affects Social Security benefits. There are certain situations where both spouses can draw benefits.

The following sections provide a basic overview. For a more personalized review of your unique situation, you should speak to the qualified disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group. We can look at the details of your situation and offer our advice. Call 865-566-0800 today to schedule a free evaluation with one of our lawyers.

How will marriage affect my benefits?

Not all Social Security benefits provide the same assistance. Some give retirement income to workers over a certain age. Others provide income replacement for workers who become disabled before retirement. There are also benefits for the poor and disabled.

The three main types of Social Security benefits are as follows.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This disability program is for people who have worked and paid into the Social Security system through their payroll taxes. You need proof of a qualifying medical condition in addition to a sufficient work history for this program.

Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI)

This program is need-based. To receive SSI benefits, you must have a qualifying disability as well as a household income below a certain amount. There are also limits on how much your household can have in assets.

 Retirement

This is regular retirement income for which every worker is eligible beginning at age 62. However, the longer you wait to take it—up to age 70—the larger monthly benefit amount you receive.

How will my marriage affect my SSDI benefits?

Because payroll taxes fund the SSDI program, eligibility depends on having a sufficient work history. In some situations, however, that work history does not have to be your own. If you have a qualifying disability, you might be able to receive benefits based on the work history of a parent or spouse.

Getting married may or may not affect your SSDI benefits. It all depends on whose work record is providing your benefits.

Your Own Work Record

If you qualify for SSDI benefits based on your own record, getting married does not affect your benefits in any way. This is true regardless of your spouse’s income or disability status.

Your Parents’ Work Record

If your parents’ work record provides your eligibility for SSDI, you will lose your benefits upon getting married.

There is one exception. If you are an adult disabled child who marries another adult disabled child receiving SSDI benefits from their parents, both of you might be able to keep your respective benefits. Talk to one of our attorneys about your specific case.

Your Ex-Spouse’s Work Record

If you receive SSDI benefits from your ex-spouse’s work record, you will stop receiving benefits upon marrying a new spouse.

Your Deceased Ex-Spouse’s Work Record

If you receive benefits from a deceased ex-spouse, you will lose those benefits if you get remarried before the age of 50—or the age of 60 if you are not disabled yourself.

Does marriage affect SSI benefits?

As SSI is an income-based program, the effect of marriage on benefits is more complex. If your spouse receives no income, your benefits should not change. However, if your spouse contributes income to the household—even if that income comes from SSI or another government program—you both risk a reduction in your benefits, as your combined income could easily put you above the threshold.

If you receive SSI benefits, you should speak to one of our disability attorneys before your marriage. We can advise you on how to move forward in a way that maximizes your benefits and those of your future spouse.

Retirement Benefits and Marriage

The effects of marriage on traditional retirement benefits are the most complicated of all. To summarize, you have a few choices on how to continue receiving benefits:

  • You can elect to keep receiving your own benefits and your spouse may do the same;
  • You can terminate your own benefits in favor of spousal benefits; or
  • Your spouse can terminate their benefits and receive spousal benefits under you.

The best option to choose is the one that results in the biggest overall benefit amount. We can help you figure out which option will earn you the largest monthly payment.

Call 865-566-0800 to talk to a qualified disability attorney.

Have questions? Our attorneys are here to advise you. Call the Disability Advantage Group, today at 865-566-0800 to set up a consultation—for free.

What Happens To Your Spouse’s Social Security When They Die?

If your spouse receives government benefits, you may be wondering what happens to their Social Security when they die. These survivors benefits can go to dependent family members, but the amount each family member receives—and which family members receive them—depends on a few factors.

If you have questions about what happens to your spouse’s benefits after death, the disability attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, can help. Contact us at 865-566-0800 to speak to an attorney.

What are the different types of Social Security benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs three different benefit programs, each with a different purpose. The first type is standard retirement. This is the benefit for which anyone with a sufficient work history is eligible upon reaching retirement age.

The SSA’s two other programs deal directly with medical disabilities. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a program for workers who become disabled. Like the SSA’s retirement program, it requires a sufficient work history to be eligible. Last, there is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is a welfare program for low-income, low-asset households with disabled members.

If your spouse receives retirement benefits or SSDI, then you are eligible to receive their benefits after they die.

Which surviving dependents receive benefits?

So, how does the SSA decide which surviving dependents receive benefits, and how much will they receive?

First, the SSA sets a limit on the total amount all dependents may receive. It is generally 150 to 180 percent of the deceased’s benefit. Thus, if your spouse was receiving $1,000 per month, then you and any other dependents may receive a max of $1,500 to $1,800.

The following sections explain how the SSA divvies up that money between you and other family members.

Surviving Spouse

If your spouse receives benefits, you can continue to draw their monthly payments after their death. However, the amount you can receive depends on specific criteria from the SSA:

  • If you care for a child under 16 years old, you are eligible for up to 75 percent of your deceased spouse’s benefit total;
  • If you are age 50 to 59, you may receive 71.5 percent;
  • If you are age 60 but have not yet reached your retirement age, you are eligible for between 71.5 and 99 percent; and
  • If you have reached full retirement age, you would receive the full benefit amount.

Certain situations can affect the survivor benefit amount. If you divorced before your ex-spouse’s death or have remarried, you may not be eligible for your deceased spouse’s payments. Similarly, if you work or if you draw disability benefits of your own, you may not qualify. If you fall under one of these categories, contact our office today. We can help you understand if you qualify.

Surviving Children

The SSA will also split the total family benefit amount among any surviving children. If you and your spouse have dependent children, they can receive 75 percent of your spouse’s benefit amount if they are:

  • Unmarried; and
  • Under the age of 18.

A month before each child’s 18th birthday, the benefits stop, except in two situations:

  • The child is under 19 and still a full-time high school student; or
  • The child becomes disabledbefore age 22.

Surviving Grandchildren

Grandchildren who were dependent on your spouse can receive survivor benefits at a rate of 75 percent in certain situations. To qualify, the grandchild must:

  • Have deceased or disabled biological parents who are unable to support them financially;
  • Have begun living with your spouse before age 18; and
  • Have received at least 50 percent of their financial support from your spouse.

For grandchildren under 12 months old, they must have lived with the grandparent for most of their lives and received at least half their support from them.

If your grandchildren meet these conditions, they can receive benefits until the month before their 18th birthday.

Surviving Elderly Parents

If you care for your spouse’s elderly parents, they may be eligible for benefits if:

  • Your spouse provided at least half their support at the time of death;
  • The elderly parents are at least 62 years old;
  • The parents have not gotten married since the death of the child; and
  • The parents do not receive their own benefits at a higher amount.

A single surviving parent is eligible for 82.5 percent of the benefit amount, while two surviving parents are each eligible for 75 percent.

What if several family members are all eligible for a large benefit amount?

For instance, what if your spouse left behind two dependent children, two dependent parents, and you? That totals to five people, all eligible for 75 percent of the monthly benefit amount. The problem is the maximum family amount is no higher than 150 to 180 percent.

In this scenario, the SSA will reduce everyone’s benefit so that the total is under the limit. Each of the five eligible dependents would receive something along the lines of 30 to 36 percent.

Contact a Disability Attorney for Help Understanding Survivors Benefits from Your Spouse

A qualified attorney can help sort out a deceased spouse’s disability benefits. Call the experts at the Disability Advantage Group, today at 865-566-0800.

Can I Collect Social Security From My Ex Husband And Myself?

If you are divorced and your ex-husband receives Social Security benefits, you might be eligible for benefits of your own, based on his monthly payment. Moreover, there is a chance you can collect your own, separate benefits in addition to the compensation from your ex-husband.

The qualification process has a lot of rules and stipulations, though. The Social Security attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, can evaluate your situation and advise you on how to maximize your benefits. Call 865-566-0800 for more information on collecting Social Security from your ex-husband and yourself.

What are the different types of Social Security benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs three programs that distribute benefits. The first is the traditional retirement benefit program, which you are eligible for once you reach retirement age.

The SSA also runs two programs to help disabled individuals who are not yet eligible for retirement benefits. These are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

Of the three programs, the only one that does not allow you to receive your ex-spouse’s benefits is SSI. If your ex-husband receives SSDI or retirement benefits, you can potentially get a monthly payment based on his record with the SSA, even if you qualify for your own benefits, as well.

The SSA awards benefits to spouses—and ex-spouses—based on the record of person who is eligible for benefits. That means if your ex-husband’s work history qualified him for SSDI payments, but yours does not, you can still receive a monthly payment based on his Social Security records.

Under the SSA’s guidelines for divorced spouses, your benefit amount can equal up to 50 percent of the amount your ex-husband receives each month.

What if I was receiving spousal benefits before my husband and I divorced?

If divorce occurs while you are receiving SSDI or retirement spousal benefits, the divorce should not affect your benefits, as long as your situation meets the SSA’s criteria:

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years;
  • You have not gotten remarried; and
  • You are not eligible to receive a larger benefit amount yourself.

If you become eligible for a larger amount, you will not continue to receive your ex-husband’s benefits on top of your own benefits. This can happen if you become disabled and qualify for a higher SSDI payment than the spousal benefits you were receiving. In this case, the SSA would pay you this amount instead of any benefits from your ex-husband.

If, however, you qualify for your own benefits, but the monthly amount is lower than your spousal benefits, the SSA would make up the difference between the two numbers. This way, your total monthly amount will equal what you were making before.

What if my divorced occurred before my ex-husband started receiving his benefits?

Even if you are already divorced before your ex-husband becomes disabled or reaches retirement age, you can still receive benefits from him under these conditions:

  • Your marriage lasted at least 10 years;
  • You are at least 62 years old;
  • You have not gotten remarried; and
  • You are not eligible to receive a larger benefit amount for yourself.

What if I have dependent children with my ex-husband?

If you have children with your ex-husband and they are under age 16 or disabled—and you are the primary caregiver—you are eligible for an additional benefit. This benefit lasts until your children become adults or no longer qualify as disabled. You will not lose this additional benefit if you get remarried.

What happens if I get remarried?

If you remarry, you lose all benefits from your ex-husband other than the auxiliary benefit for dependent children. If your subsequent marriage ends, either due to divorce, annulment, or death, you can begin receiving ex-spousal benefits again.

What if my ex-husband dies?

You can also receive survivor benefits on behalf of your ex-husband. To be eligible for this benefit, you must meet the SSA’s requirements:

  • Your marriage to your ex-husband lasted at least 10 years;
  • You are at least 60 years old or 50 years old, if disabled;
  • You have not gotten remarried, unless you are over age 60 or age 50, if disabled; and
  • You are not eligible to receive a larger benefit amount for yourself.

Contact a Qualified Social Security Attorney for Help

As you can see from the above, the protocol that governs ex-spouses receiving benefits is not always cut and dry. There are a lot of stipulations and it is important to know exactly what you qualify for before seeking benefits.

A skilled lawyer can help you get the most in compensation. At the Disability Advantage Group, our specialty is Social Security benefits. Our attorneys can analyze your situation—as well as that of your ex-husband—and determine how to maximize your benefits. We are available to answer any questions you have about the process and to offer legal advice. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 to set up a time to meet with our attorneys.

Can A Husband And Wife Both Collect Social Security?

Whether a husband and wife can both collect Social Security depends on a few factors. The circumstances at play include what type of benefits one or both partners receive, their ages, and their total income.

There are also situations where each partner is eligible to collect their own benefits, but it may make more sense for one partner to receive spousal benefits from the other. Sorting it all out can be exceedingly complicated. To ensure you maximize the benefits available to you and your spouse, it is best to meet with one of the qualified Social Security attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group. Call 865-566-0800 today to schedule a free consultation.

What are the different types of Social Security benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers three main types of benefits. Two of them are for people who become disabled before they reach retirement age. The third is the standard retirement benefit that everyone with enough work history may receive.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a disability program for workers who become disabled. It receives its funding from the payroll taxes. Thus, only people who have earned enough work credits and paid taxes into the system are eligible to receive benefits under this program.

Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI) is also for disabled people, but rather than being an insurance program like SSDI, it is a welfare program for the needy. You do not need a work history to be eligible. However, the program has strict income requirements. If you earn too much money or have too many assets, you cannot receive SSI.

Retirement is available regardless of disability status. This program only has two requirements. You must be at least 62 years old, though you can earn a bigger monthly check the longer you wait to start receiving benefits —up to age 70. The second requirement is that the recipient has a work history. The more you have earned in your lifetime and the more you have paid in payroll taxes, the higher your benefit amount.

Can a husband and wife both receive SSDI at the same time?

SSDI is the easiest program under which both spouses may receive benefits. That is because the program is not based on need. Instead, you only need to fall below the SSA’s monthly income limit—$1,170 for 2017—and meet the program’s medical requirements to qualify. In other words, no matter how much money your spouse makes, you can receive SSDI benefits as long as you have a disabling medical condition and a sufficient work history.

The same is true if your spouse receives SSDI income. If you qualify for SSDI, then it does not matter that your spouse receives benefits for his or her own disability. The SSA would approve or deny both of your applications on their own merits.

What are the spousal rules for the SSI program?

SSI, because it is need-based and has income limits, has different rules when it comes to two spouses who are both disabled. It is technically possible for both spouses to receive SSI. However, the income guidelines make it difficult for both to qualify.

Each applicant is subject to an income limit and part of the money their spouse earns counts toward that limit. This is true even if the spouse’s only source of income is SSI.

The math can be a little bit complex. Confounding the issue further is the fact that the program allows for certain income exclusions and expense deductions when calculating your total monthly income. Our lawyers can evaluate your household finances and advise you on how to maximize benefits between you and your spouse.

What about retirement benefits?

Married couples have a few choices when it comes to their retirement benefits. They can both elect to receive their own benefits or one partner can take their own benefits, and the other can choose to receive spousal benefits based on their husband or wife’s work history. It comes down to which choice results in a higher benefit amount.

The rules for spouses receiving traditional retirement benefits are complex. If you have questions about maximizing your retirement benefits for you and your spouse, contact our attorneys today.

Call the Disability Advantage Group, for help with Social Security benefits.

For many seniors and the vast majority of disabled people, Social Security comprises the bulk of the income used to pay bills and keep food on the table. When you apply for benefits, it is vital to do it in a way that maximizes how much you receive.

A qualified Social Security attorney can answer all your questions and advise you on how to get the most from each program. Call the experts at the Disability Advantage Group, at 865-566-0800. We can put our experience and resources to work for you.

SSI Disability Benefits for Children and Teenagers With Anorexia or Other Eating Disorders

An eating disorder is more than an extreme diet. It is a mental illness that can require years of costly treatment and therapy to overcome. If your child or teenager suffers from anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, or another eating disorder, you might qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits on the child’s behalf.

Getting disability for a child with an eating disorder is not an easy or cut-and-dry process. The child’s condition must meet the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict guidelines. Also, your family has to meet specific income requirements, which can vary based on the number of children and number of adults in your household.

A qualified disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group, can examine your situation and determine if you have a chance to receive benefits for your child’s eating disorder. We handle the process from beginning to end and keep you in the loop the entire time. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 to learn how to get disability benefits for children with anorexia or other eating disorders.

Which disability program should I apply for?

If you have researched disability benefits, you might have come across two terms—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). It is important to understand the difference in these two programs and which you qualify for based on your situation.

SSDI is a government-run disability insurance program that draws its funding from payroll taxes. In other words, when you work and get paid, part of your payroll taxes go to this program. If you then become disabled and cannot work, you can file a claim and receive SSDI benefits. The program is only available to those who have a sufficient work history and have paid into the system and is, therefore, not available to children.

SSI, by contrast, is a government welfare program for low-income individuals and families dealing with disability. A parent seeking benefits on behalf of a disabled child might qualify for SSI.

Does my child’s eating disorder qualify for SSI benefits?

The SSA provides a list of requirements that your child’s condition must meet to receive benefits for anorexia or another eating disorder. To qualify, we must:

  • Show medical documentation proving your child displays altered eating habits;
  • Prove that this change has impacted your child’s psychological or physical health; and
  • Provide evidence that your child has a marked impairment in at least two of the following areas:
    • Social functioning;
    • Personal functioning;
    • Cognitive or communicative functioning; and
    •  

What if my child does not meet these requirements?

The SSA offers another route to receive benefits if your child does not meet these requirements specifically. We can apply for SSI disability on the basis of your child’s impairment being functionally equivalent to one or more of the above criteria.

The SSA defines functional equivalency as impairment in the following six domains. To qualify, your child must show extreme impairment in one area or marked impairment in two or more areas:

  • Learning;
  • Performing tasks;
  • Socializing;
  • Movement;
  • Self-care; and
  • Health and physical well-being.

What evidence do we need?

The SSA cares more about the functional limitations caused by your child’s condition than the condition itself. This means that to build a strong case, we have to show proof that your child’s eating disorder prevents him or her from functioning at the same level as peers. We will gather the following evidence to do this.

Psychiatric Testing

We can use existing reports and diagnoses from psychiatrists to establish that your child has an eating disorder. If needed, we will work with you to schedule psychiatric exams to establish the extent of the condition and its effect on your child’s life.

Standardized Test Results

We examine standardized test results and identify if there has been a marked decline in performance since the onset of the eating disorder.

Lab Results

We can use the results of lab testing to determine if your child’s eating disorder is causing any additional physical ailments.

Signs and Symptoms

We will use your child’s medical records to show all symptoms and signs of illness that doctors have recorded.

Reports and Observations

We can interview teachers, school administrators, parents of your child’s peers, and other individuals who spend time around your child for testimony about any behavioral changes or functional impairments related to his or her disorder.

What are the income requirements for SSI?

Because SSI is a program for the needy, only families meeting certain income requirements are eligible. The most you can make varies based on how many adults and ineligible children—meaning children with no qualifying disabilities—are in your household. For instance, as of 2017, a family with one ineligible child and two adults in the household cannot earn above $4,169 per month.

However, you do not have to count all the money you make toward the SSA’s qualifying limit. You can exclude certain forms of income and also make deductions from your total income for various expenses.

We can analyze your household income and expenses to determine if you have a chance to qualify for SSI. We can help you structure your income and expenses to make the most of the available exemptions and deductions, increasing your chances of approval.

Do I need an attorney to apply for SSI benefits for a child with an eating disorder?

Though you can apply on your own, working with a disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group, can help you build a stronger case for your child’s disability. We can help you navigate the SSA’s confusing and seemingly arbitrary rules and guidelines.

We have helped many clients receive SSI benefits for disabled children. We can put our experience, knowledge, and vast resources to work for you, too. The consultation is always free, so call our office today at 865-566-0800 to set up case review.

Getting SSI for Antisocial Personality Disorder in a Child or Teenager

Having a child or teenager diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder can put an emotional and financial strain on your family. People with antisocial personality disorder have trouble relating to others, often struggle in social situations, and can find it difficult to thrive at school or work. They often engage in deceptive or manipulative tactics to get their way and they tend to challenge authority and conventional rules.

If a doctor diagnosed your child or teenager with antisocial personality disorder, you might be eligible for disability benefits on your child’s behalf. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides disability benefits if your child’s diagnosis includes certain criteria and you meet certain income requirements.

A disability attorney from the Disability Advantage Group, can help you with your case. We understand Social Security law and can put our experience and resources to work for you. Call our office today at 865-566-0800 for help getting disability benefits for antisocial personality disorder in a child or teenager.

What type of benefits can I get for my child?

Disability benefits come from two programs—Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).

SSDI is for people who have an established work history and subsequently become disabled, which reduces their earning power. Because SSDI funding comes from the payroll taxes of workers, only those who have worked and paid into the system qualify to receive it.

Since children have no work history and have not paid into the system, you cannot receive SSDI on their behalf. However, the SSA offers a separate benefit program for families struggling to make ends meet due to a child’s disability, and that is SSI.

To qualify for SSI, not only does your child’s condition have to meet strict standards, but you must qualify based on income, as well. The maximum income your family can earn depends on the number of children and adults in your household.

One of our attorneys can sit down with you and examine your child’s medical records and your family income. From this information, we can determine if you might qualify to receive SSI for your child. From there, we can start building the strongest case on your behalf.

Does my child’s antisocial personality disorder qualify for SSI?

Getting SSI for a child or teenager with antisocial personality disorder can be a challenge. Many doctors are hesitant to label a child with antisocial personality disorder until they are 18 or older, so it might be difficult to present a medical diagnosis of your child’s condition. Furthermore, the SSA does not specifically list antisocial personality disorder as a qualifying medical condition.

The SSA does, however, list other related diagnoses—such as borderline personality disorder or intermittent explosive disorder—that qualify for SSI. If your child show signs of one of these disorders, he may qualify for benefits.

To receive SSI for any personality disorder, your child’s condition must exhibit at least one of the following symptoms:

  • Abnormal thoughts, communication, or behavior;
  • Extreme sensitivity to negative criticism;
  • Abnormal perfectionism or rigidity;
  • Difficulty with decision-making;
  • Distrust or hostility toward others;
  • Ongoing emotional problems or mood disorders;
  • Reclusive behavior; and
  • Volatile behavior toward others;

Your child must not only exhibit at least one of these symptoms, but we have to show that these symptoms have negatively affected his or her development or functioning in certain ways. The SSA requires your child to demonstrate marked impairment in at least two of the following areas:

  • Cognitive or communicative function;
  • Social interaction;
  • Self-care; and
  • Focus, persistence, or pace.

What if my child does not meet these criteria?

Even if your child does not meet the above criteria as defined, we can still work to win SSI benefits his or her behalf. To do so, we must demonstrate to the SSA that the child’s condition results in an impairment that is functionally equivalent to the above criteria. We do this by proving marked limitations in two of the following areas or an extreme limitation in one area:

  • Ability to obtain and use information;
  • Ability to focus on and complete tasks;
  • Ability to relate to others;
  • Ability to perform personal care;
  • Ability to perform physical tasks; and
  • Ability to maintain optimal health and well-being.

We can gather evidence to show that your child’s personality disorder causes limitations in one or more of the above categories.

For instance, imagine antisocial personality disorder prevents your child from relating to others or conforming to what his or her class is doing at school. We can produce evidence from teachers and school psychiatrists documenting your child’s inability to relate to others and complete school work. By showing that your child has marked limitations in both categories, we can demonstrate that his or her condition qualifies your family for SSI benefits.

What are the income requirements for the SSI program?

Regardless of your child’s condition, you have to meet certain income requirements to qualify for SSI. The income limit depends on how many adults and ineligible children—those who do not have disabilities that qualify for SSI—live in your household. For example, in 2017, a family with one ineligible child and two adults would need to have an earned income under $4,169 per month to qualify.

When calculating your income for SSI purposes, we can leave out income from certain sources and deduct certain expenses. Our attorneys can help you make the most of these exemptions and deductions to give you and your child the best chance of qualifying for SSI benefits.

The Disability Advantage Group, can help you apply for SSI benefits.

Working with one of our experienced disability attorneys can improve your chance of getting disability benefits for your child. The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group, have won disability benefits for many clients and we know the intricacies of the process.

We can take the burden off your shoulders and handle your case from beginning to end. We analyze the details of your claim, determine the best way to present it to the SSA, and then gather all the evidence we need to build a compelling argument. The consultation is free, so call 865-566-0800 today to set up a time to talk to us.

Getting Disability for Dyscalculia

Getting disability for a child with dyscalculia is difficult, but not impossible. Your best chance comes when the child has another condition on top of his or her dyscalculia, such as low IQ, ADHD, or a learning disability. Regardless of the severity of your child’s condition, if your family’s income is above a certain level, your child cannot receive benefits.

A qualified attorney at the Disability Advantage Group can examine your situation and determine if you can get disability for dyscalculia on behalf of your child. If so, we can gather the evidence we need to build the strongest case on your behalf. Call 865-566-0800 today for a free consultation.

What type of disability benefits does my child qualify for?

There are two types of disability benefits, but children with disabilities are eligible for only one of them.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits when a person becomes disabled and can no longer work. Because it is a government insurance program funded by payroll taxes, only people who have worked and paid into the system can receive it. Since children have no work history, they are not eligible for SSDI.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a government benefit for the needy. Anyone deemed low-income with a qualifying disability—or a child with a qualifying disability—can potentially receive SSI. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of impairments it uses to qualify SSI applicants. To receive benefits, you or your child’s impairment must match a qualifying medical condition on the list.

Does the SSA list dyscalculia as a qualifying disability?

The SSA does not specifically list dyscalculia as a qualifying disability. However, there are categories on the list under which the disorder might qualify.

Neurocognitive Disorders

Listing 112.02 of the SSA’s impairment list describes the criteria to receive benefits for neurocognitive disorders. If dyscalculia is your child’s only condition—meaning he or she has an IQ within the normal range and no diagnosis of ADHD or any other learning disability—your best chance to receive SSI comes under this listing.

To qualify for SSI with a neurocognitive disorder, your child must exhibit severe cognitive impairment or a marked decline in performance in one or more of the following areas:

  • Complex attention;
  • Executive function;
  • Memory and learning ability;
  • Language;
  • Perceptual-motor skills; or
  • Social cognition.

Simply having a disability in one of these areas is not enough. For your child to qualify for SSI, their disability must also be serious and persistent. This means we need to provide evidence that your child has undergone two years of medical treatment or mental health therapy for their condition.

Alternatively, your child must display an extreme or marked limitation in the ability to learn and apply information, interact with others, keep up with peers, or manage him or herself.

These standards are difficult to meet. We would need to provide extensive medical evidence attesting to the extent of your child’s condition and the treatment he or she receives for it.

Intellectual Disorders

Listing 112.05 provides the standards for receiving SSI on the basis of an intellectual disability. It is nearly impossible to qualify under this standard based on dyscalculia alone.

The SSA states that the applicant must have below average general intellectual functioning to qualify. Since dyscalculia deals only with numbers and not overall intelligence, it may not qualify under this listing.

For your child to receive SSI for an intellectual disorder, we would need to show evidence of significantly subaverage intellectual function. The best evidence of this is a below-average performance on a school-issued intelligence test, combined with a medical diagnosis of an additional learning impairment beyond dyscalculia.

If your child’s only condition is dyscalculia, we have a better chance of qualifying for SSI under the neurocognitive disorder criteria.

Are there any other qualifications for the SSI program?

Since SSI is a welfare program, income and asset restrictions apply. As of 2017, a single person cannot earn more than $735 in monthly income and cannot own more than $2,000 in assets. A married person cannot make more than $1,103 per month or have more than $3,000 in assets.

You do not have to count all the money you make toward the SSI limits. Many deductions and exemptions apply. As your disability attorneys, we can examine your finances and determine if they fall within the qualifying limits for SSI benefits for your child.

We can help get disability benefits for dyscalculia for your child.

The attorneys at the Disability Advantage Group can examine your case and determine the best way to move forward. We gather all available evidence and present it to the SSA in the most compelling manner to give your child the highest chance of a favorable outcome. We offer free consultations, so call us today at 865-566-0800 to set up an appointment to go over your case.