Social Security Disability helps people who work

People with disabilities are challenged with both overcoming barriers and with convincing others that those barriers do not define them.

That’s why we wanted to mark this October’s National Disability Employment Awareness Month by reminding you that Social Security is an earned benefit for millions of disabled individuals, and we can assist them in going back to work.

The Social Security disability insurance program, or SSDI, is perhaps the most misunderstood program of Social Security. Some people may think that SSDI recipients have never worked and are taking advantage of the system by receiving money for minor impairments.

Nothing could be further from the truth. First, anyone who qualifies for SSDI must have worked enough to pay into the system and be “insured.” Second, Social Security has some of the strictest requirements in the world for disability benefits. To qualify, a person must not only have an impairment that will last one year or more, or result in death, but they must be unable to perform any substantial work.

Consequently, Social Security disability beneficiaries are some of the most severely impaired people in the country, and they greatly depend on their benefits. You can learn more by visiting the Faces and Facts website at At the website, you will find many personal stories of those who have benefitted from Social Security when they needed it most.

We also have incentives that give beneficiaries with disabilities — who are able — the opportunity to return to work. These work incentives include continued cash benefits for a period of time while you work, continued Medicare or Medicaid coverage, and help with education, training and rehabilitation to start a new line of work. In some cases, we may even be able to deduct certain impairment-related work expenses from your countable income, making it possible to earn more and also remain eligible to receive benefits. Examples of these expenses are wheelchairs, transportation costs, and specialized equipment needed for work.

Social Security also offers the Ticket to Work program, which gives participants a “ticket” to go back to work while keeping their disability benefits. This program is free and voluntary. Ticket to Work gives access to an employment network, which offers assistance with job searches and placement, and vocational rehabilitation and training.

Those who enroll find the Ticket to Work program makes it easier to explore whether going back to work is right for them. Some even find that they are able to eventually get back to work and earn far more than the disability payments they once received.

Visit for more information on the Ticket to Work program and work incentives. Or call 866-968-7842 (TDD 866-833-2967).

Article Source: By Brian Hewitt Special to the Tribune-Star

Posted: Saturday, October 24, 2015 6:00 pm

Posted in Columbia South Carolina Disability Attorney, Disability Benefits, divorce, Military Veteran, Retirement Benefits, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Leave a comment

Social Security Q&A: What Happens to Disability Benefits at Retirement Age? | Valley News

Question: If I get Social Security disability benefits and I reach full retirement age, will I then receive retirement benefits?

Source: Social Security Q&A: What Happens to Disability Benefits at Retirement Age? | Valley News

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How You Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits

To qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must first have worked in jobs covered by Social Security. Then you must have a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability. In general, we pay monthly cash benefits to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of a disability.

Benefits usually continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. There are also a number of special rules, called “work incentives,” that provide continued benefits and health care coverage to help you make the transition back to work.

If you are receiving Social Security disability benefits when you reach full retirement age, your disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits, but the amount remains the same.

Article Source: Social Security Administration

Posted in Columbia South Carolina Disability Attorney, Disability Benefits, Social Security Disability | Leave a comment

Social Security: a woman’s perspective

Regardless of whether you’re a man or a woman, Social Security will not — and was never designed to — provide all of the income you’ll need to live comfortably during retirement. At best, your income from Social Security will supplement your other sources.

If you are factoring Social Security into your retirement plan, you should learn all you can about how to enhance your benefits, and how much income you may need from other sources, to be financially comfortable during your retirement years.

For women, however, there are some unique factors to consider in the equation.

With longer life expectancies than men, women tend to live more years in retirement and have a greater chance of exhausting other sources of income.

Because Social Security generally has annual cost-of-living adjustments, you have an inflation-protected benefit for as long as you live. For women, those increases are vital since women generally live longer than men.

In addition, Social Security provides dependent benefits to spouses, divorced spouses, elderly widows and widows with young children.

While Social Security is neutral with respect to gender (individuals with identical earnings histories are treated with the same in terms of benefits), the following 2012 numbers released by the Social Security Administration Office of Research and Statistics highlight how demographic characteristics of women compare with the entire population.

Women reaching age 65 need to prepare for approximately 21.4 more years of living expenses. Men live an average of 19.1 more years.

Women make up 56 percent of all Social Security beneficiaries age 62 and older and approximately 67 percent of beneficiaries age 85 and older.

The average annual Social Security income received by women 65 years and older was $12,520 compared to $16,398 for men.

For unmarried women age 65 and older (including widows), Social Security composed 50.4 percent of their total income. In contrast, only 35.9 percent of unmarried elderly men’s income and 30.2 percent of elderly couples’ income came from Social Security.

Of all elderly unmarried women receiving Social Security benefits, 49.6 percent relied on Social Security for 90 percent or more of their income.

Only 22 percent of unmarried women age 65 or older were receiving their own private pensions, compared with 27.7 percent of unmarried men.

Of the women who were employed full time, 55 percent participated in an employer-sponsored public- and private-sector plan compared to 52.3 percent of men.

While participation in employer-sponsored retirement plans is increasing for women in today’s workforce, women generally received lower pension benefits than men due to their relatively lower earnings.

Probably none of this comes as a surprise, considering women earning less and spending more time out of the work force than men.

On average, women spend 12 years out of the work force caring for others. Women also are more likely to work at small companies that lack employer-sponsored benefit programs and hold part-time rather than full-time positions.

Looking at the whole picture, you can see how these factors might tend to significantly affect women’s Social Security benefits and any retirement plan or pension plan benefits they may have accrued.

So how do women offset this gap? Get a retirement plan in place so Social Security benefits can be an income supplement and not a mainstay.

To help you determine a retirement strategy that is appropriate for your personal financial situation, talk with your financial adviser.

This article was written by Wells Fargo Advisors and provided courtesy of Dustin Schofield, vice president of The Schofield Group Investment Management in St. George at 435-674-3601 or

Posted in Alimony, Columbia South Carolina Disability Attorney, Disability Benefits, divorce, Retirement Benefits, Social Security Disability, South Carolina Divorce | Leave a comment

What are the requirements for receiving disabled widow’s benefits?

You may be able to get disabled widow(er)’s benefits at age 50 if your disability must have started before age 60 and within seven years of the latest of the following dates: the month the worker died; the last month you were entitled to survivors benefits on the worker’s record as a parent caring for a surviving minor child; the month your previous entitlement to disabled widow(er)’s benefits ended because your disability ended.

Posted in Disability Benefits, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Leave a comment

Top Ten Mistakes Social Security Makes on Your Disability Case That Get Your Case Remanded

Because only one-quarter to one-third of disability applications are approved at the initial level, a successful disability claim usually requires more than one appeal. While many disability applicants win their cases after a hearing in front of an administrative law judge (ALJ), some are again denied. If you receive an “unfavorable” decision (a denial) or a “partially favorable” decision from the ALJ, you have 60 days from the date of the denial notice to request an appeal from the Appeals Council. (A partially favorable decision grants you disability benefits, but the retroactive payments don’t go back to when you say you first became disabled.)

Before you file an appeal with the Appeals Council, you must carefully examine the ALJ decision and look for errors of fact or law. If you can craft a persuasive argument as to why the ALJ’s decision was not supported by substantial evidence, you’ll have a decent chance at getting the Appeals Council to remand (send back) your case to the ALJ for a new hearing. (While the Appeals Council may reverse the ALJ outright and award benefits itself, this happens so infrequently that it’s barely worth mentioning. In reality, a favorable Appeals Council decision usually involves sending your case back for a new hearing, with special instructions to the ALJ.)

The remand rate at the Appeals Council was as high as 40% just a few years ago, but it has declined recently. As of February 2012, the rate stood at 22%, a number which still indicates that it’s entirely possible to win an Appeals Council case if the facts and law are on your side.

Pointing out mistakes made by the ALJ can increase your chances of getting a remand. What kinds of mistakes should you look for when reading your ALJ decision? Here are some common grounds for remand cited by the Appeals Council having to do with improper consideration of your limitations, although there are many others.

Insufficient Weight Given to the Treating Physician’s Opinion

The most common reason for the Appeals Council to remand a case is that the ALJ failed to give adequate weight to the opinion of the applicant’s treating physician. If the doctor or mental health professional who regularly treats you has completed a Medical Source Statement or Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) form indicating that you have substantial work-related limitations, and the ALJ didn’t give a good deal of consideration to these limitations, you may have solid grounds for appeal.

Under Social Security regulations, ALJs are required to identify and explain what weight they gave all medical source (doctor) opinions. If your ALJ gave your doctor’s opinion something less than “controlling” weight, find out why. If the reasons don’t stand up to scrutiny, you or your lawyer should mention this in your letter to the Appeals Council.

RFC Not Supported By Substantial Evidence

Every ALJ decision contains an assessment of your RFC, or the most you can do despite your impairments. If you’re suffering from depression, anxiety, and knee pain, for example, the ALJ may decide you’re limited to jobs with only occasional interaction with co-workers, no contact with the general public, and only two hours of standing per day.

Your RFC is incredibly important because it helps determine whether there are jobs that exist in the United States that you can perform. The ALJ cannot ignore limitations that are in your medical file and say that you can do more than your doctor’s notes or medical evidence indicates you can do. If the ALJ’s assessment of your RFC is not supported by the medical evidence, you should make that argument to the Appeals Council.

Vocational Expert Testimony Not Based on Correct RFC

Pay attention to the testimony of the Vocational Expert (VE) at your hearing, and particularly note the details of the hypothetical questions that the ALJ asks the VE. Here’s an example of a hypothetical question a judge might ask: “What jobs, if any, could a person of the same age, education, and with the same work history as the claimant be able to do if he or she could lift no more than 10 pounds on a regular basis, could stand no more than two hours per day, and could not have contact with the general public?”

It often happens that the ALJ will fail to include certain elements or limitations of your RFC in her hypothetical questions to the VE about whether a person could work. For example, the ALJ might neglect to ask about a hypothetical person who can have only occasional interaction with co-workers. The unfortunate result is that the VE will identify certain jobs that a hypothetical person could do, but your RFC is more restrictive than the hypothetical individual’s.

You have an absolute right to request a copy of the hearing audio, and you should consider listening to it in the course of preparing your appeal. If no VE testified at your hearing, this may be grounds for appeal itself, if you could show that you suffered from a severe non-exertional (that is, non-strength-related) impairment.

Impairment Erroneously Classified as “Non-Severe”

At Step Two of Social Security’s five-step process for deciding disability cases, Social Security determines which of your impairments are severe and non-severe. As defined by Social Security, a severe impairment is one that “significantly limits an individual’s physical or mental abilities to perform basic work activities.” Non-severe impairments are slight abnormalities causing only a minimal effect on basic work activities. In practice, the bar for what’s considered “severe” is set rather low. If the medical evidence in your case shows that one or more of your impairments is limiting basic work activities (like walking, standing, focusing, following directions), the impairment should be considered severe.

ALJ Didn’t Consider Both Severe and Non-Severe Impairments

Even if one of your impairments was properly labeled non-severe, the ALJ needs to consider its effect on your ability to work. A Social Security regulation requires the ALJ to consider the restrictions and limitations caused by all of your impairments, even those that are non-severe. For example, if the ALJ finds that you suffer from anxiety but that it’s non-severe, you still may be prevented from performing certain types of jobs, such as those that require frequent interaction with the general public. When combined with your other physical or mental limitations, this limitations may prevent you from doing your past job or limit the number of other types of jobs that you could do.

There are many other grounds for appealing your decision to the Appeals Council. To find remandable issues in your case, check with an experienced disability attorney in your area, and read on to the next page to find out about errors judges make concerning credibility, summarizing your testimony, not developing the evidence in your case, and more.

If you’ve received an unfavorable or partially favorable decision after your disability hearing, you should examine the Administrative Law Judge’s decision for factual or legal errors. If you find a significant mistake that could change the outcome of your case, you should appeal your case to the next step, the Appeals Council.

Some of the most common errors made by Social Security include failing to afford proper weight to your treating doctor’s opinion, assigning you an incorrect Residual Functional Capacity (RFC), or asking incomplete questions of the Vocational Expert (VE). (Read about those errors in the first page of this article, on common mistakes made by Social Security judges.)

Here are several more mistakes ALJs make in their decisions that you can appeal to the Appeals Council, all having to do with when the judge improperly ignores or discounts available evidence.

ALJ Didn’t Give Specific Reasons for Not Finding You Believable

The ALJ is required to make a determination (“finding”) of your credibility and to use specific reasons in explaining that finding in his or her decision. For instance, if an ALJ finds that an applicant’s testimony is not believable, a conclusory statement such as “the claimant’s allegations are not credible” or “the claimant’s allegations are unsupported by objective medical evidence” is insufficient. The ALJ needs to be more specific; for example, “The claimant repeatedly made inconsistent statements about his use of alcohol.” The Appeals Council generally gives wide latitude to ALJs in determining whether an applicant is credible, but only when ALJs provide reasoned explanations of their findings.

ALJ’s Discussion of Your Testimony Left Out Important Information

The ALJ is not permitted to mischaracterize or inaccurately summarize your hearing testimony in his or her decision, although this happens with surprising regularity. For example, if you state at the hearing that your friend takes you grocery shopping once per month, but you need to use a motorized cart while at the store and can’t unload your groceries due to pain, the ALJ should not summarize your testimony by saying, “The claimant stated she is able to go grocery shopping.” Request the audio recording of your hearing to compare what you actually said with what the ALJ claims you said.

ALJ’s Decision Didn’t Discuss Serious Side Effects of Your Medication

Social Security regulations require the ALJ to consider the type, dosage, effectiveness, and side effects of all of a claimant’s medications. If, for example, you take pain medication that causes you nausea and fatigue, the ALJ should discuss these side effects and how they would affect your ability to work. The limitations caused by these side effects should be a part of your RFC and should at least be mentioned in the judge’s decision.

ALJ Discounted Observations of Non-Physician Medical Professionals

Social Security splits medical professionals into two categories: “acceptable” medical sources (physicians, psychologists) and “other” medical sources, which include therapists, counselors, chiropractors, and nurses. While these “other” sources may not establish the existence of a medically determinable impairment (this basically means they can’t provide a diagnosis of the condition that could be causing your symptoms), these other sources may provide information and opinions about the severity of your impairment. The ALJ cannot improperly discount the opinions or observations of these non-physician medical sources and is required to explain the weight given to them. Failure to do so can result in the Appeals Council sending your case back to the ALJ for a new decision.

ALJ Did Not Develop Your Medical Record

ALJs are required to make sure there is enough evidence in your record to fairly decide the case. Unlike a regular court case, where each side is responsible for finding their own evidence and presenting it, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that Social Security proceedings are not “adversarial,” but “inquisitorial,” meaning that the ALJ has a duty to investigate the facts and develop the evidence supporting and opposing your case. If the medical evidence in your case is unclear or insufficient to allow the judge to make a fully informed decision, the ALJ may need to re-contact your physician or send you for a consultative examination with one of Social Security’s doctors.

For instance, there is often some indication in an applicant’s file of a low IQ (such as past special education classes or reported difficulty reading and writing), but no recent IQ test results. Because a low IQ can extremely important in a disability case, the ALJ may be required to send you for an intelligence test before deciding your case. Failure to do so can be “reversible error.”

Sorting Through Errors

Remember that ALJ decisions almost always contain some error of fact or law that can be argued to the Appeals Council. Social Security regulations and the reviewing federal courts require a great deal of specificity and accuracy in ALJ decisions, and it’s a good bet that if an error can be made, it has been made by an ALJ at some point in time. Your chances at the Appeals Council will be improved substantially if you focus on specific, non-trivial mistakes of law and fact, especially those related to your doctor’s opinions, your RFC, and the VE’s testimony.

Before trying to handle an appeal to the Appeals Council or federal court on your own, consult with an experienced disability attorney to get advice on what mistakes the ALJ might have made in your case.

Source of article: by:

Posted in Disability Benefits, Military Veteran, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Leave a comment

Faster benefit decisions for veterans

On Memorial Day, as we pay tribute to the men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, we also share some news about Social Security disability benefits for veterans with disabilities: a new expedited disability process.

We believe it is important to recognize those who currently serve in the military as well as those injured in the line of duty and consider it an honor and a duty to serve them. Whether the injury is physical or mental, getting a decision about Social Security disability benefits from your government shouldn’t add to the problems faced by the injured.

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, recently unveiled a new initiative to expedite disability applications from veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100 percent Permanent and Total (P&T). Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way we currently handle disability claims from wounded warriors.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and it is only right that we ensure they have timely access to the disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin.

Learn more about the new expedited process for veterans at

Read about this new service at

Also, you’ll want to visit our Wounded Warriors page at There you’ll find informative webinars, a Disability Planner, an overview of our disability programs and the convenient online disability application.

Source of article: Trevor Drozdowski, Social Security Administration district manager is the local contact. He may be reached by mail at 2484 Lee Hwy., Bristol VA 24201, by phone 866-504-5013, or email Visit

Posted in Disability Benefits, Military Veteran, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Leave a comment

U.S. veterans continue to see backlog in disability claims

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is launching an initiative to decrease the number of veterans throughout the country still waiting on disability compensation.

Dr. Tommy Sowers, the assistant secretary for public and intergovernmental affairs, said filing claims on paper is not efficient enough, so he’s making his way across the country to get the word out about an online alternative.

Sowers said typically, it takes six months for a representative to go through a claim filed on paper, but the hope is that it’ll take only four months when veterans file them online.

“When you go to war, you want to make sure you have your equipment,” Sowers said. “That’s what we’re encouraging veterans to do. When it’s time to file a claim, make sure that they have all their equipment, their records together and file it online.”

Peggy Davis is a veteran service representative in Lincoln. She sees first hand how weeding through claims online speeds up the process, and they “don’t have to spend anytime sending a paper file to the hospital for an exam, for example.” Applicants can just get online and see all the medical records.

Something important for veterans to note is that the backlog only deals with disability claims.

According to Sowers, there’s a pool of services still available to veterans ranging from home loans and life insurance to pension and employment services.  More than half of veterans do not know these services are available to them.

If you’re a veteran who would like to file a disability claim, you can see your county veteran service provider, head to your regional VA office or contact us here.

Article Source and for more information: Lauren Fabrizi

Posted in Disability Benefits, Military Veteran, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Social Security to Expedite Veteran Social Security Disability Claims

Carolyn W. Colvin, Acting Commissioner of Social Security, along with Congressman John Sarbanes (D-MD) today unveiled a new initiative to expedite disability claims by veterans with a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) disability compensation rating of 100% Permanent & Total (P&T).  Under the new process, Social Security will treat these veterans’ applications as high priority and issue expedited decisions, similar to the way the agency currently handles disability claims from Wounded Warriors.

“Our veterans have sacrificed so much for our country and it is only right that we ensure they have timely access to the disability benefits they may be eligible for and deserve,” said Acting Commissioner Colvin.  “Social Security worked with Veterans Affairs to identify those veterans with disabilities who have a high probability of also meeting our definition of disability.  I am proud of our collaboration and happy to announce this new service for America’s vets.”

In order to receive the expedited service, veterans must tell Social Security they have a VA disability compensation rating of 100% P&T and show proof of their disability rating with their VA Notification Letter.

The VA rating only expedites Social Security disability claims processing and does not guarantee an approval for Social Security disability benefits.  These veterans must still meet the strict eligibility requirements for a disability allowance.

Social Security plans to launch the expedited process in mid-March.

For information about this service, please visit

For more about Social Security’s handling of Wounded Warrior’s disability claims, please visit

Posted in Disability Benefits, Military Veteran, Social Security Disability, Veteran disability benefits | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Social Security Disability Resources: South Carolina

If you can’t work due to an injury or medical condition, you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.  Below is a list of the Social Security field offices and contact information where you can apply for disability benefits or ask questions about the application process.

South Carolina Social Security Disability Field Offices

151 Corporate Pkwy
Aiken, SC 29803
Telephone: 1-803-648-2356

3420 Clemson Boulevard
Anderson, SC 29621-1324
Telephone: (864) 231-7057

1060 Cottingham Blvd N
Bennettsville, SC 29512
Telephone: 1-888-810-7373

1111 Broad Street
2nd Floor
Camden, SC 29020
Telephone: 1-888-810-7373

1463 Tobias Gadsen Blvd
Charleston, SC 29407
Telephone: 1-843-573-3600

292 Professional Park Rd
Clinton, SC 29325
Telephone: 1-866-526-9854

Strom Thurmond Federal Building
1835 Assembly Street
Columbia, SC 29201-2441
Telephone: (803) 929-7635

1316 3rd Ave
Conway, SC 29526
Telephone: 1-843-248-4271

181 Dozier Blvd
Florence, SC 29501
Telephone: 1-843-662-4651

413 King St
Georgetown, SC 29440
Telephone: 1-866-593-1584

319 Pelham Road
Greenville, SC 29615-3110
Telephone: 1-864-233-1116

115 Enterprise Court, Suite C
Greenwood, SC 29649
Telephone: 1-866-739-4803

1391 Middleton Street
Orangeburg, SC 29115-3115
Telephone: 1-803-531-1568

2212 Mossy Oaks Rd
Port Royal, SC 29935
Telephone: 1-843-524-5795

498 Lakeshore Parkway
Rock Hill, SC 29730-4205
Telephone: 1-803-385-3494

140 Magnolia St
Spartanburg, SC 29306
Telephone: 1-866-701-6620

240 N Bultman Dr
Sumter, SC 29150-2500
Telephone: 1-803-775-9140


502 Robertson Blvd
Walterboro, SC 29488
Telephone: 1-843-549-2866

Disability Determination Services

At the Disability Determination Services offices accurate and prompt decisions are made on the disability benefits claims made by individuals. Decisions in this office are based on:

  • Medical Records
  • Medical and Psychological Evidence
  • Continuing Disability review
  • The applicant’s own statement
South Carolina Offices of Disability Determination Services

Disability Determination Division
P.O. Box 60
West Columbia, South Carolina 29171-0060
Telephone: 803-896-6400

Disability Determination Division
Columbia Regional Office
P.O. Box 80
West Columbia, South Carolina 29171-0060
Telephone: 803-896-6700

Disability Determination Division
Charleston Regional Office
2070 North Rivers Business Center
Charleston, South Carolina 29406
Telephone: 843-953-0300

Disability Determination Division
Greenville Regional Office
P.O. Box 3090
Greenville, South Carolina 29602
Telephone: 864-242-1950

Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review

At the Office of Disability Adjudication and Review decisions are made on the hearings and appeals of individuals who have filed for disability benefits claims.

South Carolina Offices of Disability Adjudication and Review

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
Suite 300
3875 Faber Place Drive
North Charleston, South Carolina 29405
Telephone: (843) 727-4511
Fax: (843) 727-4034
Services the following Social Security Field Offices:

Beaufort; Charleston, Conway; Georgetown, Myrtle Beach, North Charleston, Walterboro

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
Suite 200
1927 Thurmond Mall Boulevard
Columbia, South Carolina 29201-2375
Telephone: (803) 799-7771
Fax: (803) 799-7987
Services the following Social Security Field Offices:

Aiken, Bennettsville, Camden, Columbia, Florence, Greenwood, Laurens, Orangeburg, Sumter

Office of Disability Adjudication and Review
Suite 200
300 University Ridge
Greenville, South Carolina 29601-3698
Telephone: (864) 242-9154
Fax: (864) 467-1690
Services the following Social Security Field Offices:

Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg
Franklin, Hendersonville FO

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment