In order to prepare as efficiently as possible for making a Social Security disability claim, it is good practice to be fully aware of the trends currently emerging in Social Security cases and rulings as they will likely have an effect on your own disability case hearing/application.
One such trend is that Social Security disability lawyers no longer have to submit medical evidence. If your law firm has workers’ compensation claims, then you will likely have bad reports in your file. Also, Social Security disability lawyers now have 75 days notice of an Administrative Law Judges hearing. This is a great change to the old 20 day notice, and it gives everyone involved more time to get those last minute documents ready to go.
Other trends include both the implementation of the Quick Disability Determinations for claimants with a Federal Reviewing Official and a new Decision Review Board that replaces the old Appeals Council.
The newest changes are the earnings thresholds. An individual has to earn $1,300 in order to be credited quarter coverage. The SGA (Substantial Gainful Activities) threshold has increased recently. A non-blind individual can now earn $1,170 per month in gross income and still receive Social Security disability benefits. If the claimant is in fact blind, then that threshold jumps to $1,950 per month.
Another new change is that anyone who is trying to get benefits and enrolls in a trial work period can earn up to $840 a month. With the trial work period, you can go back to work for nine months and still get benefits.
You can earn the $840 a month for nine months, but you will be cut off benefits if you exceed that amount. That is a $30 dollar month increase from last year. Now benefit amounts for an individual or couple remains the same due to no cost of living adjustments this year.
Anyone who wants to get disability benefits has to be aware of these threshold limitations. If the person works part time, they cannot earn more than the allowable amount if they want to remain eligible for disability benefits. A fact sheet highlighting all the changes was sent out by the Social Security Administration (SSA) earlier in the year, and it would be a great idea to locate a copy of this fact sheet so that you can familiarize yourself with these changes.