National Disability Employment Awareness Month Highlights the Rights of Disabled Workers

disability employment awareness monthHeld every year in October, National Disability Employment Awareness Month (NDEAM) helps to raise awareness regarding the challenges that individuals with disabilities face in employment. This year’s theme is “America’s Workforce: Empowering All.” The theme is about empowering the rights of workers with disabilities, including obtaining the benefits they deserve.

If you are thinking of applying for disability or have been denied disability benefits, contact an experienced Knoxville Social Security Disability lawyer for help.

How Are Disability Benefits Determined?

To qualify for disability benefits, you must meet certain criteria. Social Security Disability benefits are available to individuals who worked in jobs covered by Social Security who have adequate work credits. A work credit is based on the amount of income earned. In 2018, one work credit is equal to $1,320 in income.

To qualify for these benefits, you must usually reach 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years. For Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you must not have an adequate work history to qualify for SSDI benefits and must meet strict income and asset guidelines.

For either program, you must have an impairment that meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of a disability, which requires showing the following:

  • You are unable to perform the work you did before
  • You cannot adjust to other work due to your impairment
  • Your disability is terminal or is expected to last for at least a year

The Social Security Administration (SSA) then sends your application to the Disability Determination Services office to render a decision about the impairment. The SSA can determine that your condition is disabling by seeing that it matches a condition in the Blue Book’s Listing of Impairments or if it determines that the you cannot perform any work based on your Residual Functional Capacity.

When and How to Apply for Disability

People can apply for benefits as soon as they become disabled. Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, benefits begin after the sixth full month of disability. SSI benefits begin on the first full month after the date the claim is filed or when you became eligible for SSI.

You can apply for benefits online or by calling and setting up an appointment to have your application taken over the phone. You can also present your application at a local Social Security office.

Reasons Disability Benefits Are Denied

An application for social security disability benefits can be denied for a number of reasons. Some of the most common reasons for denial include:

  • You make too much income – If you earn more than the substantial gainful activity limit, your claim can be denied. The limit is $1,180 per month in 2018. This figure is adjusted annually.
  • You do not cooperate – A significant part of the disability decision is based on your medical records. If you refuse to release your medical records to the SSA or refuse to attend requested appointments so that the SSA can receive additional information about your disability, your claim may be denied.
  • You do not follow your doctor’s orders – If you refuse to follow your doctor’s instructions, you can be denied benefits. However, the SSA can consider reasons for noncompliance, such as a mental illness that interferes with your ability to comply, a fear of surgery that makes it a non-viable option, physical limitations or your religious beliefs.
  • Your disability is not severe enough – In order to qualify for disability benefits, you must be able to show that your disability is severe and is expected to last for at least one full year. If you are expected to recover before this time, your claim can be denied on this ground.
  • The SSA cannot locate you – If the SSA is unable to reach you to communicate about your case or schedule an examination, your claim can be denied.
  • Your disability is based on drug addiction or alcoholism – The SSA can deny benefits for disabilities that are considered self-inflicted, such as drug addiction or alcoholism.

Schedule a Free Legal Consultation

If you would like assistance with your disability claim, Greg Coleman Law can help. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can assist with initial applications, as well as every stage in the appeals process if you are denied benefits.

We can discuss your case during a free legal consultation. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis, so we only get paid if we recover the benefits you deserve.

Call (865) 247-0080 to schedule a free case evaluation with us today.