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.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance and Medical Eligibility?

What is Social Security Disability Insurance and Medical Eligibility? What is Social Security Disability Insurance and Medical Eligibility?

The federal government managed Social Security Disability Insurance (DI) program pays monthly benefits in the form of cash or paycheck to eligible people in the US workforce who are unable to go to work because of a critical disease or a chronic illness that is expected to last longer than a year or cause death within the year. It is a piece of the Social Security program that additionally pays retirement benefits to by far most of more established Americans. Benefits depend on the clinically ill worker's past work credits and are paid to the disabled worker and to his or her needy survivors. To be qualified, an incapacitated worker is more likely required than not worked in occupations secured by Social Security.

How Much Is the Disability Benefit?

The disability benefit is linked through a formula to a worker's earnings before he or she became disabled. The benefits are calculated through the AIME formula.

The  SSDI amount paid to SSDI recipients vary between $800 and $1800. The average monthly SSDI income in 2019 is $1234 for blind and $1980 for non-blind.

Who Pays for Disability Insurance Benefits?

Workers and employers pay for the SSDI program with part of their Social Security taxes. Workers and employers each pay a Social Security tax that is 6.2 percent of workers' earnings up to a cap of $132,900 in 2019. The cap is adjusted each year to keep pace with average wages. Of the 6.2 percent, 5.015 percent goes to pay for Social Security retirement and survivor benefits and 1.185 percent pays for disability insurance. The combined tax paid by workers and employers for disability insurance is 2.37 percent of wages, while the combined tax for retirement and survivor benefits is 10.03 percent, for a total of 12.4 percent.

Attributes of Disabled-Worker Beneficiaries

Disabled-worker beneficiaries are at risk of being poor or near poor. About 30 percent of disabled workers, compared to 15 percent of all working-age adults, have incomes below 125 percent of the poverty threshold. Moreover, 82 percent of SSDI beneficiaries rely on Social Security for more than half their income, and 37 percent of disabled worker beneficiaries rely on these benefits for all of their income.

SSDI recipients are also more likely to be older, with the average age of beneficiaries at 54 in 2019. Three out of four (74 percent) are over 50 years old and a third (34 percent) are over 60 years old.

When comparing with other adults, disabled workers are more likely to be black, and to have a lower level of educational attainment; almost half have a high school diploma or less.

What are the common disabilities of SSDI recipients?

  • musculoskeletal problems, such as back injuries
  • cardiovascular conditions, such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • senses and speech issues, such as vision and hearing loss
  • respiratory illnesses, such as COPD or asthma
  • neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, Parkinson's disease, and epilepsy
  • mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, autism, or retardation
  • immune system disorders, such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis
  • various syndromes, such as Sjogren's Syndrome and Marfan Syndrome
  • skin disorders, such as dermatitis
  • digestive tract problems, such as liver disease or IBD
  • kidney disease and genitourinary problems, and
  • cancer
  • hematological disorders, such as hemolytic anemias and disorders of bone marrow failure

With all said there is no blinking the fact that the SSDI pays around 8.5 million Americans in disability benefits each year. However, still the US’s spending on disability benefits is relatively modest as compared to a 1.3% of Germany, 2.5% of Sweden and 2.8% of Netherlands, the US spends only 1.4%.

If you need more details or help in filing your social security disability, you may contact us.

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Can you be denied social security due to substantial gainful activity?

substantial gainful activity, ssdi denied Denied social security due to substantial gainful activity?

The Social Security Disability is an insurance program funded solely by the social security taxes under Federal Insurance Contributions Act, FICA. Although almost every working person paying social security taxes is eligible to file for social security claims, that is not the only way the applications are analyzed for the final approval. You would need to prove to the SSA that your earnings are below the monthly income thresholds stated by the SSA under substantial gainful activity, SGA.

Substantial Gainful Activity

To qualify for social security disability benefits you must be able to prove to the SSA that you are unable to perform work under substantial gainful activity.

Each individual will have their own measure of substantial gainful activity depending on the severity of their impairment. A person will Alzheimer’s will be analyzed on different grounds than a person with lost limbs.

The SSA will also look into national average wage index while calculating your substantial gainful activity. This is because the cost-of-living may vary state to state making it necessary for the SSA to perform cost-of-living assessments, COLA.

The monthly income threshold for statutorily blind individuals for 2019 is $2040. For non-blind individuals the monthly income thresholds under substantial gainful activity, SGA is $1220.

Will you be denied social security due to substantial gainful activity?

Yes, if you are working and earn a monthly gross income above the thresholds stated by the SSA then you will straight away be denied without even considering your medical eligibility. This is because income limits is the first thing the SSA takes into account while analyzing an application for the social security claims.

With that being said, there may be some exceptions to the rule such as a low income limit where the person may be able to earn in another type of job that doesn’t needs work in their impairment areas. For instance, a person previously working as a truck driver may not be able to continue sufficient work as the truck driver after a severe accident but may be able to work as a clerk and earn substantial gross income. Similarly, a person earning above income thresholds may not necessarily be considered working under substantial gainful activity, SGA. For instance, a person may be working as an accountant and earning high incomes while on dialysis. In such cases, the person would not be considered working under SGA as they may be highly compensated to complete the task at hand, for example, by providing them permission to take outside help, delay deadlines or hire a freelancer to complete their bookkeeping tasks.

What happens if you have already been approved for SSDI benefits?

You may already be receiving benefits by being eligible for social security medically and non-medically. However, whether you decided to go back to work or started to have improved symptoms of your impairments, you can continue to receive your benefits as long as you earn within the substantial income thresholds. On the other hand, your benefits will be cancelled if your monthly gross income limits exceed as stated under the substantial gainful activity.

You may consult a disability attorney for more details.

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Social Security Disability: How are my benefits taxed?

Social Security Disability: How are my benefits taxed? Social Security Disability: How are my benefits taxed?

The Social Security benefits are governed under the federal rule and are mostly funded by the social security taxes collected through the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, FICA.

The benefits taxable under social security taxes may include but are not limited to monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They would not be considered for benefits you receive on behalf of a dependent, such as an ex spouse collecting benefits for the minor child of the disabled person. Also the supplemental security income, SSI would not be considered for taxation. This is because SSI is granted vigorously on only need-based basis. So people who could not afford taxes are actually those who are mostly granted the SSI in the first place.

How are my benefits taxed?

The amount of benefits on which you are taxed would solely depend on the amount of income you earn. This income would only be considered if it is being earned by you through work or some assets such as mortgage. However, any other income contributed to the household by other means, such as income from another family member or income from a trust named after your children would never be considered for social security taxation.

Also, a tip to reduce the amount of taxes on your social security if you are married is to file your taxes as joint filers instead of as individuals. This means that if you are married and are a joint filer, then the percentage of social security taxation would be almost 10-15% of 50% of your benefits provided that the total annual income for both of you is less than $44,000. Couples with higher incomes such as those with annual income thresholds above $44,000 would be subject to a 30-35% on 85% of the social security benefits.

Similarly, the amount of social security taxation on individual filers would depend on their marginal incomes instead of a direct percentage of their social security benefits. For instance, if you are an individual tax filer with an annual income below $25,000 then you may simply be exempted from social security taxation. For income between $25,000 to $35,000 with an approximate monthly income between $2084 and $2833, you will be taxed almost 30-35% on 50% of your benefits. However, if you have a higher monthly income above $2834 leading to an annual income threshold above $25,000 then you may be subjected to higher taxes such as 30-35% on 85% of your social security benefits.

The tax rates for any of the income thresholds and tax statuses (single filer or joint filer) will be the same as any other federal tax rate.

Higher taxes on lump sums

You may receive a lump sum or backpay payments in instances where you were disabled but not yet approved to receiving benefits. In this case, if you do qualify for social security eventually, you may be facilitated for the months you were not provided the socials security benefits. These benefits will be paid in a single lump sum. Therefore, the larger sum would be subject to a larger taxation. However, the tax rates on the lump sum would be the federal tax rates that applied to other people during the year or months your benefits were not yet granted (due to the reason stated above).

State taxations on social security insurance benefits

Almost every state has its own laws governing social security taxes. While some states may never subject social security disability insurance benefits to taxation. You may consult a social security attorney to find out your state’s taxation policies for social security benefits.

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What are the non-medical requirements for SSDI

What are the non-medical requirements for SSDI What are the non-medical requirements for SSDI

To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance, SSDI you would need to meet the eligibility for both medical and non-medical qualifications for SSDI. The most common reason for denial is not being able to meet the medical qualifications but an inability to meet the non-medical criteria. This happens simply because not many people are aware of it.

While you might be chronically ill and meet all the medical requirements, you may still be denied SSDI claims because you do not have enough work credits or haven’t paid the FICA taxes.

How does your work history affect SSDI qualification?

Ever wondered where does your hard earned money go when you receive deducted net salaries? You must have noticed that often the amount you receive in your monthly paycheck may always be lesser than the amount initially stated on your work contract from the employer. This is because many companies pay the social security taxes on their employees. In short, all individuals who work have FICA taxes deducted from their paychecks automatically.

Since the SSDI is an insurance program it is funded by the Federal Insurance Contribution Act, FICA taxes collected from people who work and redistributed to those in need. If you pay FICA taxes, you basically pay into the Social Security Disability Insurance program. To be able to claim your social security you need to have worked and paid enough taxes into the system to retain coverage along with meeting the medical requirements.

How does your income impact your eligibility for SSDI?

The good news is, the SSDI does not consider the number of assets you may have or how much other family members contribute to the household, while analyzing your case for eligibility. The assets and income from other sources are only considered for the supplemental security income, SSI.

On the other hand, the SSA does take into account how much money you earn through your job. You can’t earn an income equal to or more than the income stated in the ‘substantial gainful activity’, or otherwise your claims would be straight away denied.

The specific dollar amount stated as substantial gainful activity in 2019 is $1220 for non-blind claimants  and $2040 for blind claimants. If your income is above the stated threshold, you will not be labeled as disabled by the SSA.

Talk to a social security attorney

An experienced social security attorney will be able to analyze whether you will qualify for social security on your medical and non-medical terms or not. While you can always re-appeal your claims if you think you are denied unjustly on medical basis, you can never re-appeal if you do not qualify under the non-medical requirements.

A disability lawyer can not only determine your eligibility but also guide you on how you can become eligible in certain situations. Hence, it is highly recommended that you consult with a social security attorney while submitting your application.

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What are the Differences Between SSI and SSDI?

The Social Security Administration provides different options for disabled individuals to receive benefits. Two primary programs run by the Social Security Administration include Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

Because both SSI and SSDI can provide for you if you are disabled, you need to understand the differences between the programs and decide which makes sense for you. A Los Angeles Social Security disability benefits lawyer can assist you in understanding each program and applying for the correct one for your circumstances.

Key Differences Between SSI and SSDI

The key differences that you should be aware of between SSI and SSDI include the following

  • SSDI requires you to have earned work credits, while SSI does not require a work history.
  • SSI is means tested, while SSDI isn't. You can qualify for SSI only if you have a limited income and limited assets while you can qualify for SSDI even if you have money and property. 
  • SSDI benefits are based on your past wages, while SSI benefits are not. You'll receive a larger benefit from SSDI if you paid a lot into the system. 

A Los Angeles disability benefits lawyer can assist you in carefully considering both SSI and SSDI to determine what program to apply for and can help you to apply for the program that is right for you. Proving that you are disabled enough to qualify for either program can be challenging, so you'll want to ensure you get legal help as soon as possible if you are disabled and hope to apply for benefits.

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Why should I apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits?

SSDI provides a regular monthly payment for individuals who have become disabled.  There are also other benefits that you can receive along with this monthly payment.

· Medicare Benefits: Regardless of your age, you are eligible to receive Medicare benefits 24 months after your date of entitlement of SSDI benefits.
· COBRA Extension: If you receive SSDI benefits, the length of your COBRA benefits may be extended an additional 11 months.
· Dependent Benefits: If you receive SSDI benefits any dependents under the age of 18 may also be eligible for benefits.

If you have become disabled and are no longer able to work, you should apply for SSDI benefits immediately.  As the process can be long and complicated, you should consider consulting with an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability benefits.  If you have any questions regarding your current or potential Social Security Disability claim, please contact us.  We look forward to hearing from you.

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I applied for Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) and I just got a denial letter, what should I do?

The first thing that you should do is appeal the denial.  Many of our clients come to us after months or years of applying and reapplying for benefits because they did not know that they could appeal the denial.  If you are denied, you have 60 days to appeal the decision.  You should immediately begin the appeal process once you have received the denial letter.  If you have any questions or concerns regarding your denial letter or the appeals process, you should contact an attorney who specializes in Social Security Disability benefits.

If you need an attorney who is experienced in representing clients seeking SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY INSURANCE (SSDI) or SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME (SSI) benefits, contact Disability Advocates Group today at (800) 935-3170, or online to schedule a free initial consultation.

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SSDI: The truth behind the mischaracterizations

This is a great article discussing how important SSDI is to disabled people and how the recent media stories have painted a highly inaccurate picture of the program:

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The wait period for SSDI or SSI hearings has increased dramatically

New reports show that as of 2012 the processing time for a hearing before an ALJ for a Social Security Disability hearing has crept up to 400 days.  This is an incredibly long amount of time for disabled individuals to wait for a decision by an ALJ on their Social Security Disability claim.  Unfortunately, this has caused severe strain on these individuals and their families.  This is also coupled with the fact that approval ratings have gone down.  In 2005, the approval rating for ALJs was 72 percent whereas in 2013 the approval rating was 56%.  Given these numbers, if you are disabled and no longer able to work, you should contact an attorney that has experience practicing before the Social Security Administration immediately.

For more information, click here:

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Getting Both SSI and SSDI

You may be eligible for both SSI and SSDI benefits if you meet certain qualifications. This is known as concurrent benefits. If you are a disability recipient who is currently getting a low monthly payment (which typically happens if you have made low wages or haven't worked in recent years), you may be eligible to get concurrent benefits.

To receive SSI on top of SSDI, the applicant's unearned income must be less than $721 per month. The income limits can be very complex, and that's why it's so important to retain a disability attorney with experience in the field. In addition to income limits, SSI has asset limits. If you have worked in a job that paid taxes into Social Security which qualified you for SSDI and your assets and income are low enough to get SSI, it's likely you will be able to receive concurrent benefits.

Bear in mind that to calculate your eligibility for SSI, your monthly disability payment is factored in. In some cases, that payment is high enough to disqualify you from getting concurrent benefits. If you are getting a disability payment less than $721 a month, however, you can get both benefits at the same time.

The application and evaluation process for getting benefits is the same whether you are applying for SSI, SSDI, or both. Your income and assets will be reviewing in the same manner and the category of your claim has no impact on the claim processing. The definition of disability remains the same for both programs.

There are a few benefits to getting concurrent payments. If you are receiving disability less than $721 a month, your benefit could be increased up to this amount. You also may be eligible for Medicare as an SSDI recipient, but you should know that taking advantage of this requires waiting two years after you became eligible for SSDI. Most SSI recipients are only eligible for Medicaid. Although Medicaid tends to cover, on the surface, more services than Medicare, more doctors are open to taking payments from Medicare, making it easier to find a health professional. As you can tell, the process can be complicated. Obtain an SSDI attorney sooner rather than later to get your questions answered.

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Getting SSDI For Fibromyalgia

A recent study in Arthritis Care and Research highlighted the experience of fibromyalgia patients applying for Social Security Disability Income. Although diagnostic procedures have increased in specificity, it has been a slow road for fibromyalgia patients to receive SSDI benefits. 

The study looked at 2,321 patients over a period of four years, finding that approximately 35 percent of those patients were currently receiving disability benefits. Those patients with rheumatoid arthritis with concomitant fibromyalgia, were, on the whole, more successful at obtaining benefits: nearly 56 percent of those patients were on disability at the time of the research study. Researchers determined that the strongest predictor of receiving disability benefits for fibromyalgia patients was their level of functionality. 

Some patients might apply for disability benefits and simply get frustrated with the red tape surrounding them after an initial denial. If your condition prevents you from working, you need to speak with a disability attorney to have your case evaluated. As more research comes forth about the impacts of fibromyalgia, you need to count on legal representation that knows the ropes. Don't give up on your claim if you have initially been denied. An experienced disability benefits lawyer will work with you to complete your appeals paperwork, answer your pertinent questions about the disability application process and receiving disability, and can even represent you at hearings. 

Entering into the world of applying for SSDI benefits can be overwhelming and confusing. Too many patients give up after they have gone through the application process, possibly losing out on important disability benefits that could make their life and their family's life much easier. If you are looking at a denied claim and wondering about your options, contact an SSDI attorney to discuss your individual case. You may be eligible for disability benefits and should consult with an attorney about the best way to get them. 

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Waiting for Social Security Disability….

There are so many stories in the news that focus and highlight the people who abuse the Social Security Disability system.  While I am confident that such abusers exist, the news should also show the other side of the story.  So many individuals face so many difficulties while waiting for their Social Security Disability benefits (SSDI or SSI) to be awarded and paid to them.  They face foreclosure, bankruptcy, mounting medical bills.  These individuals are forced to take loans from family and friends, sell all their property, move into their cars just to feed themselves or their family.  This is the side of the story that we see in our offices so often but so rarely on the news.

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What is the process for determining whether you qualify for Social Security Disability (SSDI or SSI) benefits?

Many people applying for Social Security Disability benefits are confused about the process the Social Security Administration (SSA) goes through in order to determine whether someone is eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The Social Security Administration has actually laid out specific steps that they follow to determine if someone is disabled and therefore qualifies for SSD benefits. In this post, I provide a simplified description of the sequence of steps the SSA takes to evaluate whether you are disabled per Social Security’s regulations.

1.    Did you earn more than a specific amount of money since your alleged onset date of disability (the date that you claimed you became disabled)?
In this first step, the SSA will obtain a report of your earnings to determine if you have earned money since the day you claimed you became disabled. If you have earned money since the day you claim you became disabled, the SSA will look to see if the average monthly amount you earned is more than the SGA or the Substantial Gainful Activity amount for that year. This is the maximum monthly amount of money you can earn while still being eligible for SSD benefits during that period of time. This amount changes from year to year. For 2012, for example, the SGA amount is $1010 per month if you are not blind and $1690 per month if you are blind. As I mentioned, the SGA amount differs each year and you can determine the SGA amount for each year by going to the SSA.GOV website (

In general, if your average monthly earnings exceed the SGA amount for that particular year, then the SSA will determine that you are not eligible for SSD benefits. There are certain exceptions that apply to this rule and if you have been denied on this basis, you should contact an attorney experienced in handling Social Security Disability claims. If you have not earned more than the SGA amount, then SSA will move your claim to Step 2.

2.    Is the claimant’s condition “severe”?

The second step is to determine if your condition is “severe.” SSA defines a condition as “severe” if it has more than a minimal effect on your ability to do basic work activities. This is a very low threshold to meet as most impairments will have some effect on a person’s ability to perform basic work-related activities, even if the condition does not completely prevent work activities. If your condition is considered “severe”, then the SSA will progress your claim to Step 3.

3.    Does your condition meet a medical listing?

The third step in the process is to determine if your medical condition meets a medical listing. In order to meet a medical listing, specific criteria must be met which deem the condition (in and of itself) severe enough to automatically warrant SSD benefits. The SSA maintains a list of such medical conditions for each major body system, all of which can be found on the SSA website. If your condition meets a medical listing then you are considered disabled for purposes of SSD benefits. In some cases, people applying for SSD may not see their condition(s) specifically acknowledged by the SSA as a potential medical listing. In such a situation, the SSA will determine if your condition is equivalent in severity to a related medical condition that is actually on the list.
Even if their condition is listed, however, most people applying for SSD do not have a condition(s) severe enough to automatically qualify for benefits via a medical listing. If your condition does not meet a medical listing all is not lost. If your condition does not meet or equal a medical listing, the SSA will move to Step 4.

4.    Can you perform past relevant work?

If your condition does not meet or equal a medical listing, the SSA will then determine whether you are capable of performing “past relevant work.” “Past relevant work” is work performed within the previous 15 year period, assuming that it lasted long enough to be learned and was substantial gainful activity (SGA). If the answer is no (you cannot return to any past relevant work) the SSA will proceed to Step 5.

5.    Can you perform other work?

If it is determined that you cannot perform your past relevant work, the SSA will try to determine whether there is any other work you could reasonably do based on your age, education, and transferability of job skills. This decision will also be based on your residual functional capacity. This term refers to what tasks and skills an individual can still perform despite the functional limitations and restrictions caused by the physical and/or mental impairments stemming from a documented medical condition. The types of jobs that SSA can determine you are capable of performing diminishes with older age, less education and less previous work experience. That means that the older you are, the less education you have and the less previous work experience you have, the more difficult it is for the SSA to determine that there is other work that you can do. If you are unable to perform any past relevant work or any other work (based on your age, education and work experience), then you should be approved for Social Security Disability benefits.

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Disability Advocates Group is a law firm dedicated to serving individuals who have become disabled and are seeking to obtain the benefits they need and deserve. At Disability Advocates Group, we specialize in representing disabled clients in their claims for Social Security Disability Benefits.

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