Social Security Disability Attorney In Los Angeles

This is NOT legal advice. This blog provides general information about Social Security Disability cases. To discuss your particular

circumstances and claim, please contact a lawyer in your area. Please feel free to contact Disability Advocates Group at (800) 935-3170

or online if you have any questions regarding your Social Security Disability claim.

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Stay up to date on the latest news in social security disability law.

Confused between SSDI or SSI? Here’s what’s not common in them

Confused between SSDI or SSI? Here’s what’s not common in them Confused between SSDI or SSI? Here’s what’s not common in them

The Social Security Administration (SSA) runs both the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) under the Federal programs. The disability guidelines stated by the SSA are the same for both the programs which is stated in the Blue Book. An American who qualifies the federal definition of disability stated in the Blue Book automatically becomes eligible for applying for social security to the SSA. However, the similarities between the two programs end here.

While SSI is a need-based program allotted to the disabled people who need financial assistance the most, the SSDI is more of an entitlement program which is only granted if you have enough credit of work history after of course being eligible in the disability handbook as stated above.

Eligibility Requirements

SSI eligibility requirements differ from the SSDI eligibility requirements apart from the disability.

For SSI eligibility the value of your assets should not exceed the monthly income of $2000 for singles and $3000 for couples. The things SSA counts as your assets include real estate, bonds, stock, cash and bank accounts. However, SSA would exclude a personal car and a single home as resources while considering your application.

Whereas, to qualify for SSDI you must first have worked in the jobs listed under the SSA's list of covered jobs. Secondly, you must meet the disability requirements as mentioned in the SSA's Blue Book of Impairments that is also updated regularly. Thirdly, you must not be earning above the threshold of substantial gainful activity, SGA as set by the SSA. Also, this is to say that you must not be earning above the income threshold set by the SSA. Lastly, the SSA requires your disability to last atleast one full year or 12 consecutive months meeting the above requirements to be able to apply for disability benefits.

Apart from the requirements for each, the SSA also looks into your medical records, previous history, physician's opinions and your employer's or colleague's testimonies regarding your disability and how it impacts your work ability under SGA.

Work-hour Requirements

For SSDI eligibility, you need to earn a minimum of 40 work credits in your lifetime and paid social security taxes just like insurance premiums are paid to get the benefits. In 2020, you receive one credit for each $1,410 of earnings, up to the maximum of four credits per year. Each year the amount of earnings needed for credits goes up slightly as average earnings levels increase according to the AIME index that is set by averaging the inflation rates. The credits you earn remain on your Social Security record even if you change jobs or have no earnings for a while or start a business later on.

Often times, the SSA allows self employed individuals to be able to carry out substantial gainful acitivity for upto 45 hours/month and still remain eligible to apply for disability benefits. In 2020, the monthly earnings limit is $2110 for blind and $1260 for non-blind individuals.

Also, you need to be able to have a minimum of 40 work credits in your lifetime, 20 of which should have been earned within 10 years prior to your disability.

You can qualify and win disability benefits by earning Social Security credits when you work in a job and pay Social Security taxes. The SSA uses Social Security credits on the amount of your earnings.

You may be able to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits if you have enough work hour credits accumulated in your lifetime and if you net income at the time of application is less than that stated in the SSI eligibility.

Method of Benefits (SSDI vs SSI)

You would receive cash payments for your SSDI claims if approved. But, if you are receiving both benefits your net benefit amount could not exceed the SSI amount.

How to Apply for SSDI paychecks?

As mentioned, the SSDI is a need-based program run by the Social Security Administration under Federal Rule. Each state has its own set of thresholds for the amount of disability paychecks you would receive as a disabled applicant, however, the set of rules required for eligibility of SSDI benefits remains the same.

You can apply directly by registering yourself at the Social Security Administration's Official Website or have a disability advocate represent you.

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How to check the status of my social security disability application

Here is how you can check your disability status online Here is how you can check your disability status online

Waiting for the judgement of your disability application can get stressful and boggy. This is because it could take anywhere between 3 to 6 months for a final verdict on your disability benefits application.

However, the Social Security Administration understands this. That is why as you wait for the ruling, you are provided with the option to check your disability status online from the SSA site.

Depending on your disability case it may take between several days to weeks for your application to get approved or denied. There are several ways you can check the status of your disability application depending on the stage it is in.

Here is how you can check your SSDI application status online

If your case is being managed by one of our lawyers you can contact our lawyers directly at Disability Advocates Group law firm (DAG) or call us at 800-935-3170 or visit us at 17525 Ventura Blvd, Suite 308, Encino, CA 91316. We strive to keep you abreast of any changes in your application status and are already ready to answer your legal questions.

Hence, you can have the disability attorney working on your face contact the Social Security Administration to determine the status of your file on your behalf.

In addition to talking to your attorney, you can directly check the status of your application by:

  • - Call your local SSA office directly at 1-800-772-1213, Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • - Contacting the disability examiner that has been assigned your case and engage with him/her directly on call or visit their office to discuss the details (You can get their contact details at your local SSA Office) or
  • - Visiting your nearest SSA office through the Social Security Office Locator at

How long does it take the SSA to review my application?

The SSA makes a decision on your application on most of the Social Security Disability Claims SSDI within three or four months, with some cases taking up to six months.

However, if your case was denied and you appealed it to be heard by a local administrative  law judge (AL J) ,it can add a flurry of few months in addition to the basic time, taking it anywhere between nine months to two years.

The Social Security Administration will notify you as soon as the decision is made for your disability application. However, it is important you make sure you still have access to all the contact details you provided in your SSDI application. If you still do not hear from the SSA within 3 to 5 months, then you may have to visit your local SSA office directly or have your attorney do that on your behalf.

That said, if your case was denied and you want to appeal to the SSA’s decision, you can contact our lawyers at Disability Advocates Group law firm (DAG) directly.

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Disability claimants at age 50-54, will your benefits be denied?

Disability claimants aged 50-54 Disability claimants aged 50-54

Disability claimants at age 50-54, will your benefits be denied?

In addition to looking towards the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book of medical impairments, the SSA examiner will also look into a person’s physical incapability such as age, education, relevant skills and work experience in an RFC form to decide their disability case.

However, apart from the above the SSA may also determine your case through the ‘grid rules’ – these are a series of labels or conditions that the SSA would decide on whether to grant or deny a disability claim. For people aged between 50-54 this might not be the best bet but it is an option. Also this is still yet another way to win or lose your claims, this is not the final conclusion – even if the grid denies the disability claims of a person aged 50-54, they might still win the case through the exertion level strategy:

Exertion levels and how are they determined

Since the SSA labels people aged between 50-54 as closely approaching advanced age, they are also analyzed differently for each exertion level. The SSA has specific rules to analyze people in this age group.

For each age group, the grid is divided by exertional levels; that is, what level of work an applicant's RFC (residual functional capacity assessment) states that an applicant can do. The different RFC levels are for work at the following levels:

  • sedentary
  • light
  • medium
  • heavy, and
  • very heavy

Grid Rules for people aged at 50-54

The SSA matches a decision to a person’s skill set and education level accordingly for people aged 50-54 as below:

Sedentary Work RFC

  • Disabled
  1. Completed 11th grade or less with no skills and no work;
  2. Completed 11th grade or less with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  3. High school graduate or higher with no skills and no work;
  4. High school graduate or higher with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  • Not disabled
  1. Completed 11th grade or less with skilled or semiskilled work but transferable skills;
  2. High school graduate or higher with skilled or semi-skilled work but transferable skills;
  3. Recent education that provides entry into higher skilled work, whether semiskilled or skilled work or even transferable or untransferable;

Limited and Medium Work RFC

  • Disabled
  1. Illiterate or unable to communicate in English, unskilled or no work;
  • Not disabled
  1. Completed 11th grade or less with no skills and no work;
  2. Completed 11th grade or less with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  3. High school graduate or higher with no skills and no work;
  4. High school graduate or higher with semiskilled or skilled work but untransferable skills;
  5. Completed 11th grade or less with skilled or semiskilled work but transferable skills;
  6. High school graduate or higher with skilled or semi-skilled work but transferable skills;
  7. Recent education that provides entry into higher skilled work, whether semiskilled or skilled work or even transferable or untransferable;

Heavy Work RFC

If your prior job was a heavy work then subsequently your RFC would also be a heavy work. This means that if you were able to do heavy work then you will also be able to perform medium, light and sedentary work on your skill set. So wining a disability claim on your physical impairments for a heavy work RFC may not be possible.

However, if you are aged between 50-54 and are able to prove to the SSA that you are unable to perform due to other conditions such as inability to focus due to Post-traumatic stress disorder or unable to stoop due to chronic back pain, then you may as well win the claim.

The grid rules may be a tough tool to crack. You may consult a disability attorney for specified help on your case.




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How limited education or illiteracy may be considered as eligibility for disability claims

Levels of education and disability claims Levels of education and disability claims

Many people in America never consider of their education as a privilege. Although it is an ingrained right to every citizen, some people may not be educated due to many unavoidable circumstances such as insufficient resources, disease, sickness, family business such as farmers or abusive childhoods such as trafficking or parents not letting the child go to school.

Some disability applicants, although older come to us with no disease but an inability to get jobs to support themselves due to illiteracy or not enough education. Even when these people could perform some king of work in ‘undemanding jobs’, it may not be enough for them to run the household or care for a child (if any).

Most of these type of applicants do not possess high school diplomas, cannot read or write or cannot even communicate in English such as immigrants from urban towns of Europe since world war II.

When considering an applicant’s claim, the first step of the SSA examiner is to look for ‘medical disabilities’. If the claimant does not meet the list of impairments, the SSA would look further to see if the applicant’s physical health prohibits them from performing sufficient work. The SSA would calculate the claimant’s residual functional capacity to see whether they fit into the category of disabled.

Educational levels of claimants

These are the most common educational levels used by the SSA to decide a person’s capability in RFC:

  • Limited or little education;

If the claimant attended school up to the grades between 7th and 11th grade, the SSA labels their education as limited. A person with limited educational background will have some skills such as reasoning, math ability and language skills but do not possess the necessary qualifications to gain a full time job. For instance, a 54 year old man was granted disability benefits on his claims on arthritis and insufficient education. Though he worked prior to the arthritis in a marble factory, his disability and illiteracy now made it impossible to gain a standard job to fulfill his needs.

  • Mediocre or marginal;

If the claimant’s did not study further than grade 6, their education level is defined as marginal by the SSA. A person with marginal education can only perform in unskilled jobs.

  • Illiterate or no education;

A claimant with no education or an ability to read or write anything let alone their own name are considered as illiterate by the SSA. Although an illiterate person can find work in sedentary jobs or ‘undemanding fields’ such as coal mines, crane drivers etc, the illiteracy combined with some kind of minor disability such as lumbar pain makes it impossible for them to perform work.

  • Unable to speak or communicate in English;

Since English is the national and official language in the US, almost every job requires a person to be able to speak English to be able to perform at work. A claimant unable to read, write or speak in English may be considered for disability benefits by the SSA but it doesn’t guarantee that their claim would always be approved.

The SSA would look into how far the claimant went to school, their educational levels and high school grades, teacher’s remarks (if any) etc. If the claimant was a special child, it would be necessary to be able to provide documental proof to the SSA that the child attended a special education program.

This is just an overview of how a limited or no education may enable a person to claim disability benefits. You can consult a professional disability attorney for more guidance.

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What is your residual functional capacity, RFC and how is it determined

Determining residual functional capacity Determining residual functional capacity

What is your residual functional capacity, RFC and how is it determined

The Social Security Administration will not only determine disability benefits on your disability and medical evidence but also look into the details of your work functionalities – whether you are able to work or how much your disability prevents you from working – the SSA looks into all of this.

While determining whether the disability prevents you from performing substantial gainful activity, SGA, the SSA will calculate your Residual Functional Capacity, RFC. The SSA will also calculate how much work activity you can perform whether on a continuing or a regular basis i.e., if you are able to meet the 40 hour a week work requirement, in spite of your disability.

How is residual functional capacity determined?

If you are able to meet the minimum 40 hours a week work requirement and are mentally and physically fit enough to perform substantial gainful activity, SGA then your disability benefits claim will be denied. However, the SSA would determine if you are still capable of performing some sort of work to earn a living, depending on your age, education, physical fitness and prior work experience.

Unfortunately your social security disability claim would only be approved if you cannot perform work under substantial gainful activity, SGA.

How is level of capability determined?

Your physical residual functional capacity report determines if you are able to perform any kind of light, medium or hard work in spite your disability. Here are the various RFC levels that would appear in your RFC form to be evaluated by the SSA:

  • Sedentary work

This is the bare amount of work you could be doing to earn a living. This means that you cannot lift more than 10 pounds at one time but are able to lift or carry things such as files or small tools. A sedentary job does not require too much work standing or lifting heavy subject, it consists of activities that mostly require sitting and an ability to walk and stand occasionally, such as a clerk.

  • Light work

This is considered light work because it involves lifting up to 20 pounds of weight at one time or occasionally while also being able to lift 10 pounds or more frequently. Light work also requires frequent walking and standing, ability to push your arms and legs frequently. Also since you are able to perform light work you can also perform sedentary work.

  • Medium work

This is when you are able to lift up to 50 pounds at a time and you can frequently lift up or carry up to 25 pounds of weight. It would be obvious to state that if you can do medium work then you can also do light and sedentary work.

  • Heavy work

This is when you are able to lift up to 100 pounds at a time or occasionally, and that you can frequently lift or carry up to 50 pounds a week frequently. If you can perform heavy work then you are also able to perform sedentary, light and medium work.

  • Very heavy work

Any activity involving you to carry more than 100 pounds at one time and lift up or carry 50 pounds occasionally would be considered as very heavy work.

Apart from the levels of work, your RFC will also determine if you are able to stoop, bend your fingers and remember instructions given for a specific task.

If the disability examiner decides that you are unfit to continue work on your prior job they will look into whether you can perform work in another type of job depending on your current abilities and health status including age, education, skills and ability to learn new skills. If the disability examiner finds out that you are unfit to perform any kind of activity to gain substantial gainful work hours then you would be considered eligible for the disability benefits.

It can be a very difficult for you to think of and gather all the necessary points for your RFC. You can consult a disability attorney to provide you legal guidance specific to your situation.

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Disability benefits for my parent with Dementia

disability benefits for my parent with dementia disability benefits for my parent with dementia

Seeing your parents not recognize you is bad enough emotionally – getting the disability benefits denied for them takes a lot of financial toll on the family too.

Although dementia patients develop the disability at a later stage in their lives, sometimes the disease can develop in your 50s as well. People with dementia slowly forget things and the worse thing is they don’t even remember that they are forgetting things.

Fortunately, patients with dementia who have learning, memory, concentration, or language problems can be granted the benefits if they meet the medical requirements in the Social Security Blue Book of medical eligibility requirements.

Dementia often affects a person’s integral mental functioning, including problems in taking care of oneself, memory loss, impaired judgment, language skills and more. The most common causes of dementia are Alzheimer’s, head injury or a brain hemorrhage. Most of these symptoms last longer than a year and even get worse since it is a progressive and irrevocable disease.

If the disease prevents you from going to or performing at work for more than 12 months then you may qualify for social security disability in the list of mental impairments. Although the disease mostly develops at later stages in life as stated above, you can also apply for disability benefits even if you are not in your retirement age when the disease strikes. Once you reach the retirement age (62 to 67) your disability benefits would automatically be converted to retirement benefits.

How to know if you qualify for disability on dementia

The Social Security Administration will analyze your disability application through a thorough check of your medical records, physician statements and any other documental evidence you submitted with the application. If your symptoms meet the official list of disability impairments in the SSA’s Blue Book of impairments then you would be eligible to receive the benefits.

The list of impairments most commonly associated with dementia are listed under neurocognitive disorders. To meet the eligibility criteria, you need medical evidence to show that your disability meets the following criteria:

  • Understand, remember, or apply information;
  • Interact with others;
  • Concentrate, persist, or maintain pace;
  • Adapt or manage oneself;
  • Delusions or hallucinations;
  • Disorganized thinking (speech); or
  • Grossly disorganized behavior or catatonia
  • Planning and judgment;
  • Learning and remembering (it can significantly affect performance at work and social life);

If your records indicate that you have extreme limitations in any of the following areas, the SSA will determine whether these symptoms have an adverse or severe affect on your mental health or lifestyle.

  • understanding, remembering, or using information (understanding instructions, learning new things, applying new knowledge to practical tasks)
  • concentrating on tasks and being able to complete tasks (at a reasonable pace)
  • adapting or managing oneself (being aware of normal hazards and taking appropriate precautions, adapting to changes, having practical personal skills), and
  • interacting with others

You will need to provide sufficient medical evidence to prove that these symptoms are serious and persistent i.e., you must have a medically documented history of the disease, diagnosis, symptoms and affects for the past 2 years. If the disease has just been diagnosed you can state so.

You can consult a social security attorney for more detailed guidance or call us at





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