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September 2011 Archives

Incarceration and its Affect on a Social Security Disability Claim

Last week, we discussed how an individual's past relevant work, and their past in general, can have an affect on their Social Security Disability claim. In keeping with the same topic, we'll discuss what happens to an individual's Social Security Disability claim or their disability benefits when they are convicted of a felony offense and sentenced to a time of incarceration.

Past Work and its Affect on a Social Security Disability Claim

An individual's past work is extremely relevant when it comes to determining their disability. As we discussed in a much earlier blog, one of the five steps in the disability determination process is to determine whether or not an individual applying for disability is capable of completing their past work. For instance, if an individual has past relevant work that would be classified as medium, yet an Administrative Law Judge finds them to retain a light or sedentary functional capacity, it would indicate that the individual, although not necessarily capable of completing their former job, would be capable of completing other jobs at lower exertional levels.

Appeals Deadlines for Social Security Disability Claims

We've discussed what happens after one has received a Fully Favorable Notice of Decision, so we'll touch base on what happens after an Unfavorable Notice of Decision has been received. For those who have received an Unfavorable decision after their hearing before an Administrative Law Judge, there is always the option to appeal the decision...but, the most important thing to keep in mind is that there is a time limit to do so. The Social Security Administration has set forth a 60-day deadline for appeals; this deadline applies to all decisions regardless of their stage in the disability process.

You've Won Your Claim--What Now?

When a client receives their Notice of Decision indicating they've been awarded a Fully Favorable decision on their Social Security Disability claim, the most common question that gets asked is: "What's next?" or "When will my payments begin?" At this point, we let our clients know that they should be expecting one more key piece of information for the Social Security Administration, and that's their Notice of Award.

Can Returning to School Affect a Social Security Disability Claim?

When it comes to issues regarding a Social Security Disability claim and what one should or should not do, or what steps one should or should not take, it's increasingly difficult to offer an answer that would apply to everyone. Social Security Disability claims are, without a doubt, not a 'one-size-fits-all' situation. The subject of returning to school (i.e. college, trade school, or a certification program) is one we hear often, but also one that applies differently to different individuals in different situations. When investigating a disability claim, the Social Security Administration is trying to understand whether or not an individual is capable of working. The main issues an individual applying for Social Security Disability or Supplemental Security Income benefits would run into are two-fold: 1.) Would an alleged disability interfere with an individual's ability to attend classes, and 2.) Would a course-load, or class work, be similar in time requirements and exertion as a full-time job? For example, if an individual suffers from a social anxiety disorder, the Social Security Administration might wonder how they would be able to interact, in a social manner, with peers in a classroom--especially if they are unable to do so in a work environment. The alternative view to this example, however, are certain accommodations an individual may have, or take, in order to avoid situations that would trigger their disability, such as online courses that do not require direct interaction with classmates. Often times, course schedules have the ability to command a great deal of time and attention, especially if an individual is attending classes full-time. The amount of time spent not only in class, but also in any additional labs, study sessions, and work required outside of the course, has the potential to add up. In the end, attending school may appear as time consuming and as difficult as participating in gainful employment. On the other hand, not every individual returns to school full-time. And, not all full-time students carry schedules that are as physically or mentally taxing as full-time employment. The best thing one can do in this situation is to be aware that it may raise additional questions. Additionally, documentation for any special accommodations will only prove to be helpful in the end. If you're a client and you have any questions or concerns about returning to school and its impact on your claim, feel free to let us know!

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