Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits for Autoimmune Diseases
On the docket for exploration today, is the relationship between Social Security Disability benefits and autoimmune disease. There are several crucial concepts necessary to gain a firm understanding of this topic. The first crucial concept in this discussion involves an overview of Social Security Disability benefits.
What are Social Security Disability Benefits?
The SSA manages several programs for disabled individuals, such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
SSDI benefits are available to disabled workers who are unable to perform any normal job duties. SSDI benefits are also available to disabled workers who have a diminished or impaired capacity to perform normal job duties. To qualify for SSDI benefits, an applicant must provide medical records to prove a disability and employment records to prove sufficient tax contributions.
If an applicant is unable to demonstrate sufficient work history or tax contributions, they will not qualify for SSDI. That is where SSI enters the picture. SSI provides benefits to disabled individuals with limited work history and tax contributions.
To continue exploring the different characteristics of and differences between SSDI and SSI, please refer to this recent blog post – Explanation of the Difference Between SSI and SSDI Benefits.
Moving on from the nature of Social Security Disability benefits, the next crucial concept in this discussion is the SSA approach to autoimmune disease.
What is the SSA Approach to Autoimmune Disease?
In the evaluation process for autoimmune disease or other conditions, the SSA splits up disabilities into separate categories, referred to as listings. Each one of the SSA’s Listing of Impairments addresses a different human body system, including immune, cardiovascular and respiratory. To qualify for a listing, the disability or impairment must be severe enough to interfere with the performance of standard work duties.
The SSA approach to autoimmune disease is outlined in Listing 14.00 Immune System Disorders. There are three principal types of immune system disorders in Listing 14.00:
- Autoimmune diseases;
- Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection; and
- Immune deficiency disorders (other than HIV).
Concerning autoimmune diseases, specifically, the SSA recognizes dysfunctional conditions that result in persistent and widespread impairment. The SSA can also refer to autoimmune diseases as rheumatic diseases, connective tissue disorders, or collagen vascular disorders.
The SSA notes that autoimmune diseases vary greatly from person to person, making strict categorization highly difficult. This is particularly true when comparing the same autoimmune disease in children versus adults.
To gather more information on which disabilities qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, please reference this recent blog post – What Type of Disabilities Qualify for SSDI?.
Turning away from the SSA definition of autoimmune disease, the next crucial concept in this discussion revolves around the evidence needed to prove a qualifying immune system disorder.
What Evidence of Autoimmune Disease is Needed for Disability Benefits?
To receive benefits for an autoimmune disease, an applicant must complete several SSDI requirements. As detailed in Listing 14.00, an applicant demonstrates autoimmune disease through detailed records and results of their medical history, including:
- Doctor examination records;
- Laboratory test results;
- Medical imaging records; and
- Tissue biopsy results.
It is vital to note that the SSA requirements differ greatly from person to person, especially in the case of autoimmune disease. The SSA may require all or only several of the items listed above.
Interested individuals wishing to learn more about the evidence needed to support a claim for Social Security Disability benefits can review this recent blog post – What Evidence Do I Need to Support My SSDI Case?.
Departing the arena of evidence needed to support a claim for benefits, the next crucial concept in this discussion centers on the application process.
What is the Application Process for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The SSA processes applications for Social Security Disability benefits through two different channels:
- Phone calls to standard or hearing-impaired lines; or
- Online application on the SSA website.
Regarding the online application, the SSA has different regulations for SSDI and SSI benefits. The SSA will only process an online application for SSDI benefits if the applicant has:
- Reached the age of 18 years old;
- Not received benefits on their Social Security number;
- Not been able to work due to a persistent and long-term disability; and
- Not been recently denied for disability benefits.
The last item in the list above is important. If an applicant was recently denied for disability benefits, then he or she cannot submit an online application. The applicant can submit an online appeal on the SSA website, requesting a new review of the application materials.
The SSA will only process an online application for SSI benefits if the applicant:
- Is between 18 and 65 years old;
- Never married previously;
- Does not suffer from blindness;
- Is a U.S. citizen living in one of the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, or the Northern Mariana Islands;
- Never submitted an application or received an award for SSI benefits in the past; and
- Is applying for both SSDI and SSI benefits at the same time.
The final entry in the list above is important. Applicants can only submit an online application for SSI benefits if they are also applying for SSDI benefits at the same time. Stated otherwise, it is not possible to submit a standalone, online application for SSI benefits.
To dig a little deeper into the application process and related concerns, it may be useful to review this recent blog post – Three Common Pitfalls When Pursuing Social Security Disability Benefits.
Moving past the application process, the next crucial concept in this discussion touches on whether it is possible to work while receiving Social Security Disability benefits.
Is it Possible to Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits While Working?
In simple terms, yes, there is a possibility of obtaining benefits through SSDI and working a job at the same time. The SSA maintains strict limitations on this possibility.
An individual must pass the standard requirements for Social Security, namely a complete application detailing medical disability and work history. Once that individual begins receiving Social Security Disability benefits, he or she can work a job under certain limitations. First, there is a 20-hour threshold on hours worked per week. Second, there is a $1,000 cap on the amount of gross monthly earnings.
It is important to note that the SSA maintains maximum income thresholds for disability benefit eligibility. To learn more about the maximum income thresholds, please reference this recent blog post – Social Security Disability Insurance: Income Limitations.
Do You Need Legal Assistance?
If you are dealing with an autoimmune disease, Social Security Disability benefits can help ease the burden with monthly payments. To put yourself in the best position to obtain benefits, it can be advantageous to obtain legal assistance from a proficient Social Security Disability lawyer. The lawyers at Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo have demonstrated proficiencies in the field of Social Security Disability, including clients with autoimmune diseases. If you have legal questions, contact us today to get started. There is no fee unless we win.
The lawyers at Krasno, Krasno & Onwudinjo are readily available at offices across Pennsylvania as well as by phone at 800-952-9640 and by online contact form.