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plano social security lawyerDebilitating injuries or serious illnesses can play a major role in a person’s life, affecting their ability to work and support themselves and their family. For those who suffer from conditions that are severe enough to be considered a total disability, Social Security disability benefits can provide essential financial assistance. However, these benefits may not fully address a person’s needs, and they may wish to supplement them by finding ways to earn an income. However, a person who is disabled may be concerned about whether returning to work will affect their ability to continue receiving benefits. By understanding the restrictions that apply and the options that are available, a person can ensure that they will continue to have the financial resources they need.

Working While Receiving Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security disability, a person will need to demonstrate that they are not currently working, or if they are working, they are earning less than what is considered substantial gainful activity (SGA). In 2022, SGA is defined as $1,350 per month, or $2,260 per month for a person who is blind. A person who receives disability benefits may work part-time or in a low-wage position, and if they earn less than the amount that is considered SGA, this will not affect the benefits they receive.

Any changes in a person’s work should be reported to Social Security, including starting a new job, stopping work at a current job, or changes in hours, duties, or wages. Social Security also encourages those who receive benefits to return to work, and it offers some incentives to assist in the transition. These include employment networks, vocational rehabilitation agencies, and other organizations that offer education and job training, career planning, assistance with job placement, and other benefits.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1937889325-1-min.jpgWhen a person suffers from disabilities that are severe enough to limit their ability to maintain employment, they may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. These benefits can be crucial, ensuring that a person will have the financial resources to provide for their needs. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides benefits based on the income a person earned in the past. To qualify for SSDI, a person will need to meet a variety of criteria, and Social Security will look at the severity of their health condition and whether they are able to continue working. During this process, one issue that is considered is whether a person can do work they have performed in the past. By understanding how Social Security defines “past relevant work,” an applicant can be prepared to answer questions about their status, their ability to work, and their need for disability benefits.

Determining the Relevance of Past Work

During the five-step evaluation process used by Social Security, step number four looks at whether an applicant can do work that they had performed in the past. At this point, Social Security will examine a person’s Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), or their ability to perform different work-related tasks that fit within the limitations of their health conditions. RFC will be used to determine whether work the person had done in previous jobs will fit within their current limitations. However, only “past relevant work” will be considered. To be relevant, work must meet criteria for:

  • Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) - A person must have been able to earn enough money while working to sufficiently support themselves. Social Security adjusts the amount of monthly income that is considered SGA on an annual basis. By looking at the amount of income a person earned while working a past job, Social Security will determine whether it was equal to or greater than the SGA level at that time. Part-time jobs, volunteer positions, or other work for which a person earned a low income may not be considered during this step of the evaluation process.

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dallas disability lawyerA physical or mental disability can be a serious issue that affects a person’s health, well-being, and quality of life. In addition to causing pain and discomfort and affecting a person’s relationship and home life, a disability may make it impossible for a person to maintain employment. This can put a person and their family in a difficult financial position, especially if they have additional expenses related to medical treatment or assistive devices and other accommodations in their home and vehicles. Fortunately, those who suffer from disabilities that affect their ability to work may be able to receive disability benefits through Social Security. 

There are two types of disability benefits offered by Social Security: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Of these, SSDI is often the preferable option, since it provides benefits based on the income a person has earned in the past, while SSI provides assistance on a needs-based basis for people without a significant work history. To qualify for SSDI, a person must have earned sufficient “work credits” throughout their career. By understanding how these credits are calculated and the number of credits that will qualify for disability benefits, a person can make sure they will be able to receive the financial assistance that will address their needs.

Calculating Social Security Work Credits

Most people pay Social Security taxes on the income they earn, and by doing so, they earn work credits that count toward their eligibility for Social Security benefits. A person can earn up to four work credits each year. The amount of income required for a work credit is adjusted each year in accordance with changes to average income levels in the United States. For 2021, a work credit is equivalent to $1,470 in income.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1711076632-min.jpgThere are multiple types of disabilities that can prevent a person from pursuing or maintaining gainful employment. If you have serious and ongoing health issues, you may qualify for Social Security disability benefits. In addition to disabilities related to physical conditions such as injuries or illnesses, these benefits may also address mental health issues that affect your ability to work, including depression. Since mental illnesses are not always as outwardly obvious as other types of disabilities, it is important to understand the requirements that must be met in order for a person to receive benefits through Social Security.

When Is Depression Considered a Disability?

Clinical depression is a serious mental illness that can drastically affect a person’s ability to perform work, complete daily tasks, and maintain relationships with others. A person may be diagnosed with a condition such as major depressive disorder or persistent depressive disorder if they experience symptoms such as irritability, extreme sadness, a lack of interest or ability to take pleasure in activities they had previously enjoyed or participated in, decreased energy, difficulty maintaining body weight, problems with concentration, social withdrawal, or suicidal thoughts or actions.

Social Security will evaluate the symptoms a person has experienced due to depression. To be considered disabled, a person will need to provide medical documentation showing that they have experienced at least five of the following symptoms:

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Dallas County Social Security disability denial attorney prescribed treatmentThere are many different types of health issues that may cause a person to be disabled. For those who suffer from serious health conditions, government benefits can be an essential resource that will allow them to cover their ongoing expenses. Social Security disability benefits can provide much-needed assistance, but to qualify for these benefits, a person will need to demonstrate that they meet Social Security’s standards for disability. One issue that can affect eligibility for benefits is whether a person has followed the prescribed medical treatment for their condition.

When Social Security May Consider a Failure to Follow Prescribed Treatment

If a person does not follow the treatment plan prescribed by a doctor, this may affect their ability to receive disability benefits. However, Social Security will only consider a failure to follow prescribed treatment in certain situations. This issue may be considered when determining whether a person’s condition is included in or is functionally equivalent to an entry in the Listing of Impairments. If a person would not meet the criteria for a listing if they had followed a doctor’s prescribed treatment, disability benefits may be denied. This issue may also be considered when determining whether a person has the residual functional capacity to perform work that is available. If Social Security determines that a person would be able to work if they had followed a doctor’s prescribed treatment, they may be denied disability benefits.

In these situations, only certain types of prescribed treatment may be considered. Social Security will look at a failure to follow prescribed treatment if all of the following conditions are met:

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