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ABC SOUP: SOCIAL SECURITY ACRONYMS

We all know the government is found of acryonyms:  AOD, DLI, EOD, etc.  To understand Social Security language, you need to know what these terms mean.

AOD:  Alleged Onset Date.  This is the date on which the claimant says he/she first became disabled.  It's probably also the date the claimant asks for disability payments to begin.  It can be earlier than the date of application.

DLI:  Date Last Insured.  Just like all other insurance programs, SSDI has a beginning and ending date.  A worker loses his or her insured status with Social Security abut 5 years after they stop working (because they no longer pay FICA tax by payroll deduction).  This date affects your ability to file a NEW disability claim under Title 2, the regular disability program based on your work record.

EOD:  Established Onset Date.  This is the date a Social Security agrees that you became disabled. It may be later than your AOD.  For example, you may claim to have become disabled on 3/1/16 but Social Security may…
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WHO IS COVERED BY THE SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY PROGRAM?

Not everyone is covered by Social Security's disability program.  You are only covered if you have worked long enough, and recently enough, and earned the minimum number of "quarters of coverage."  So, the SSDI program is for covered workers, not the general public.

What is a "quarter of coverage"?  A quarter represents one quarter (3 months) on the calendar. For example, the first quarter of a year runs from January through March.

How much do I need to earn to get one quarter of coverage?  The amount of earnings required is based on the national average wage index and changes year to year.  Below are some years and the amount of earnings needed to earn 1 quarter of coverage?

YEAR               EARNINGS REQUIRED FOR 1 QUARTER

1980                  $290
1990                  $520
2014                  $1200
2017                  $1300
2018                  $1320

Remember, these earnings represent the wages earned in a 3-month period or 1 quarter.  For example, in 1980 if…

What Veterans Need to Know About SSDI Benefits

If you are a recently disabled veteran and have been recently discharged from active service, or if you are about to be discharged, here are things you must know about Social Security:

1)  You are covered by both VA disability and Social Security (SSDI) disability.

2)  You may be entitled to receive SSDI benefits for the period of disability, even before you separation (discharge) date.  They go by the date you became unable to perform your military duty, not the date of separation.

3)  Social Security disability is a totally separate process from VA disability.  One does not depend on the other.  Different applications, different rules, different process, etc.

4) If you meet the requirements, you can get full VA benefits and full SSDI benefits.  One benefit will not offset or eliminate the other one.

5)  Social Security has special, faster processing rules for veterans with a 100 percent permanent VA rating, who were disabled while on active duty.  Note:  You do not have to have a 100 per…

WAITING TIME FOR A HEARING HITS 20 MONTHS IN NORTH ALABAMA!

Claimants must now wait 20 months to get a disability hearing in North Alabama!  

Last month I was telling my clients it would take about 18 months to get a hearing.  Now, it's taking 20 months.

One year ago, I was telling clients it would take about 15 months to get a hearing.  They are further behind now than then.

Back in 2012, I was telling clients it would take 12 months to get a hearing - and I thought that was bad.

The average processing time in the Florence, AL hearing office (responsible for most hearings in north Alabama) - is 574 days.

 As time goes along, it is taking longer and longer and longer to get a hearing.  

There are about 4,930 appeals pending in the north Alabama (Florence) Office of Hearing Operations.  That office has 7 administrative law judges.  The average judge disposes of 2 cases per day.  This office is not particularly slower than most.  The average waiting time in Alabama is 18.5 months.

Assuming that it takes about 4 months to get a decision on the initi…

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO GET DISABILITY BENEFITS?

NEWS FLASH -- 11/17/17 -  The waiting time for a hearing out of the Florence, AL ODAR has now hit 20 months!

You have suddenly become disabled and can't work.  Your income has stopped but expenses continue:  medical bills, mortgage, utilities...they never end.  You apply for Social Security disability benefits but start to get the idea this could take a really long time.  What's a realistic time frame to get benefits started?

Initial Application Period.  It usually takes 90 to 120 days to get an initial decision from Social Security.  They have to write to all your doctors, get medical records, review them and have one of their medical experts review the evidence.  A typical disability examiner is working about 80 cases at a time.  So, it takes a while.  The chances on an initial disability application--based strictly on state averages are as follows(approximately):

Approvals    29 percent
Denials        71 percent

Appeal Level (Hearing) - based on Alabama averages

If your claim is …

DENIED BENEFITS? YOU HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT!

The real fight begins when you are denied Social Security disability benefits.  

It's not the end of the game.  It isn't even half time.  It's time to rally the forces, circle the wagons and start the fight that can get you approved.

When your claim is denied, you are entitled to a personal hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).  It is the ALJ's duty to look at all the evidence, including new evidence you submit, listen to your testimony and make a brand new decision on the merits of your case.

These judges will almost always make a decision that is better considered and more fair than the initial determination (denial).  That isn't to say they always approve benefits; but often they do.  Based on national averages, about 45 percent of claimants who go before a judge will be awarded benefits.  My firm's numbers are higher than that but we are selective about taking on new cases.

The main point I want to make here is this:  If your disability claim comes …

DOES YOUR DOCTOR CARE IF YOU STARVE TO DEATH?

DOES YOUR DOCTOR CARE IF YOU STARVE TO DEATH?

A lot of times, individuals can get disability benefits that they desperately need to pay rent, buy food or get medical care.  But it often requires your doctor to spent a few minutes completing a form called a Medical Source Statement.

Some doctors will complete these forms for their patients, giving a fair, truthful opinion of the claimant's medical condition.  But, then, there are other doctors.....

Who promise they will do the form when they get around to it....but they never do...or they do so after you have been denied.

Who simply tell you, "We don't do disability forms."

Who refuse to complete the form but offer to farm you out to another doctor somewhere who might.

You should ask yourself the question:  Does my doctor care about me and my needs as they relate to my health and ability to work?  Or, is this doctor only interested in collecting his $30 co-pay and sending me on my way with my problems?

Choose your doctor car…