What is SSDI? (Social Security Disability Insurance)

When a disability renders you unable to work, one of the many things you need to do is apply for disability. If you have a form of disability through your workplace, that will likely be your first option. But if you have been out of work for an extended period, and no longer have that disability insurance, there is another option available. SSDI, or Social Security Disability Insurance, is available to you if you have a work history.

elderly couple with Social Security Disability Insurance

Disability Insurance Through Social Security

This program is intended for individuals who have a work history and have accrued enough credits through employment to qualify. It is paid from the same program that pays retirement benefits to older workers who have retired. SSDI provides a monthly income to those who are rendered unable to work due to a long-term or disabling medical condition.

To be eligible, you must have contributed to SSDI through payroll tax deductions through employment that is covered by Social Security. You must also have worked recently enough and long enough in order to qualify.

SSDI is different from SSI, or Supplemental Security Income, which is a benefit payment for low-income individuals with little or no work history. However, some individuals could be eligible for both SSDI and SSI under certain conditions.

How To Qualify For SSDI

An individual applying for SSDI must be unable to work due to a disability. Social Security has a narrow definition of “disability.” A person’s medical condition (physical or mental) must be expected to last at least one year, or result in the applicant’s death. As a result, SSDI is not intended for short-term or partial disability.

SSDI qualification is based on an individual’s work history, and the monthly benefit is based on average lifetime earnings from employment that is covered by Social Security. The benefit is calculated based on the number of calendar quarters the applicant worked, and at which age the disability began.

Another condition is whether you can engage in Substantial Gainful Activity, or are not able to do the type of work you did before or any other type of work due to your disabling medical condition.
There are slightly different eligibility requirements for people who are blind, veterans, children with disabilities, and widows or widowers of workers.

Recipients must be U.S. citizens or have a lawful alien status if they were born outside of the US.

Filing An Application

You’ll need to gather some records before you begin your application. Start with:

• Your Social Security card

• Contact information from your health care providers, including many doctors, and the dates of your appointments

• A list of all medications, names, and dosages

• Treatment records

• Results from all laboratory and diagnostic tests

• Your most recent W2 form, or last year’s tax return if you were self-employed

• Bank account information

• If your spouse also qualifies, your marriage certificate or other proof of marriage

• For family members who also qualify for benefits, Social Security numbers and proof of age for each

You should apply as soon as you become disabled. Since it takes time to begin receiving benefits, you should start the process immediately. You should have all your proof and information about your condition before you begin.

Prior to filing your SSDI claim, you should visit your physician and explain what you plan to do. If your physician does not agree that you are disabled, his or her assessment could harm your claim. If your own doctor will not support your claim, you may consider finding another doctor or medical professional who does.

However, if your physician does agree, it’s also important to follow his or her medical advice. Not making scheduled appointments and failing to follow treatment protocols may make your claim look fraudulent.

Many applications for SSDI are rejected on the first try. It’s important that you appeal this decision so as not to lose your right to do so.

It’s also a good idea to work with a disability lawyer who understands SSDI and how to complete an application correctly. You’ll have a better chance of approval on the first application, or on appeal.

Let Herren Law Help You With Your Disability Claim

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get their disability benefits. The Herren Law Firm in Houston, TX can assist with your application, appeals, and records gathering to prove your case, and win your claim. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees, and we only collect a fee if we win your case.

Does a Mental Disorder Qualify For Social Security Disability?

You may wonder if a mental disorder also qualifies for Social Security disability assistance. Mental disorders can be just as disabling as a physical disability or handicap. A mental disorder can prevent you from working, having fulfilling relationships, and functioning in society.

 

elderly lady who have Alzheimer disease
                                                                                                                                           Mental Disorder affects 1 in 5 Adults

In 2020, about 21% of Americans experienced a mental disorder or about 1 in 5 adults. About 5%, or 1 in 20 adults, experienced a severe mental disorder. About 8% of Americans, or 21 million people, experienced a major depressive episode in the same year.

Suicide and other negative activity can result if the mental disorder is left untreated. Many people in jail have been found to have some kind of mental health challenge. Veterans are not immune from mental disorders and may qualify through the Social Security Disability program as well as veterans disability programs. As you see, if you are suffering from a mental disorder, you are not alone. Medical care is available and you may qualify for disability assistance as well.

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)

This is a program that pays a person and certain family members if, while you were working, you earned enough credits through payment of Social Security taxes from your earnings, or those of a qualifying family member.

SSDI is for individuals who are no longer able to work due to a substantial illness or impairment. To qualify, a person must have worked in jobs that are covered by Social Security and deduct those taxes from earnings. The calculations are made on the number of earnings the disabled person earned prior to leaving work due to a disability.

SSDI is different than SSI, or Supplemental Security Income. SSI is a need-based program offering basic financial assistance to older persons and disabled individuals who have limited resources. SSI recipients qualify for Medicaid immediately, whereas SSDI recipients qualify after 24 months of receiving benefits.

Qualifying Criteria

Social Security uses the same basic requirements for any disability rating. The disability must be expected to last longer than 12 months or end in the death of the recipient. Mental disorders are also judged by the same standard. They are considered a disability and do qualify for disability through the Social Security Administration (SSA).

The SSA’s “blue book” contains the full listing of all conditions that they consider “disabling.” The book contains an entire section on mental disorders. Many of the disorders have multiple requirements that must be fulfilled to qualify for SSDI. Any mental illness that prevents you from having and maintaining gainful employment may be used as a qualifier.

But just having a mental disorder isn’t enough to begin receiving SSDI payments. You still must submit an application and include sufficient documentation that supports your claim of disability. This can include:

• Medical records from psychiatrists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, or therapists

• Any treatments, such as brain scans that show any abnormalities responsible or other organic cause for symptoms (if applicable)

• Medical records from emergency room treatments or hospitalizations resulting from your condition

• Pharmacy records related to the prescription treatment of your condition

A diagnosis isn’t enough to show disability. You’ll be required to demonstrate that the diagnosed illness also includes limitations that impair certain functions and this functioning impairment prevents or prohibit you from working. During medical visits, speak honestly with medical providers about how your disorder impairs you so that their medical records will give an accurate account of your condition.

Adding detailed descriptions of how your mental disorder disrupts your life can be a helpful first-person account that accompanies your medical records. It is not unusual to find many individuals applying for SSDI may have one or more disabling physical conditions in addition to their mental disorders.

It is a good idea for you to speak with an experienced disability attorney, like Bill Herren, before submitting letters and first-person documentation so that they are done correctly. Working with a disability attorney from the beginning can increase your chances of approval and ensure that the application is completed correctly. It also lets you focus on taking care of yourself while your attorney handles your claim application process.

Unfortunately, many claims are rejected because of insufficient documentation or errors. If you are considering applying for yourself or a loved one that has a mental disorder that qualifies for Social Security Disability, contact an attorney that specializes in this area of law. If the application is denied, you can have your attorney represent you in an appeal, which can increase your chance of being approved.

How Long Does it Take?

With rare exceptions, disability payments do not begin immediately. Once you submit your claim, it will be reviewed by a caseworker who will verify your information and medical documentation before rendering a decision. The decision is generally given within three to five months, on average, though sometimes it can take longer.

Once your application is approved by the SSA, you’ll have a yearly review of your condition since many mental disorders are treatable. If your condition remains the same and there is no improvement, you will likely continue to have your benefits.

Contact Herren Law Today

Mental disorders affect thousands of Texans and their families. Many should qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), but their applications are denied because of insufficient documentation or outright errors. Herren Law has helped over 4000 Houstonians receive the disability benefits they need. William Herren has an unsurpassed commitment to his disabled clients and is a proud member of the National Organization of Social Security Claimants Representatives. Licensed to practice law in Texas and in the Federal District Courts of the Southern District of Texas and the Eastern District of Texas, as well as the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, Mr. Herren is very experienced in Social Security disability type cases, including mental disorders that qualify for Social Security Disability.

When you call Herren Law, we’ll immediately begin working with you one-on-one, going through your records, and helping you to apply properly.

If you or someone you care about has a mental disorder and you are wondering if that mental disorder qualifies for Social Security disability assistance, start with William Herren and the Herren Law firm. Your first step is getting an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer on your side, so contact our Houston law office at (713) 682-8194. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and there is no fee unless we win your case.

Find an Experienced Disability Lawyer in Houston

It is important to find an experienced disability lawyer in Houston as the process of applying for and getting disability payments through Social Security can be a long and frustrating one. Veterans trying to get disability awarded run into similar frustrations and don’t get us started on the frustrations folks find dealing with insurance companies for their long term disability claims! For this reason, William Herren and the staff at Herren Law offer its services as a way to help navigate the process. Mr. Herren’s over 25 years of experience in this area of law in the Houston area makes him uniquely qualified to help clients. He and his staff help with applications, appeals and representation when it comes time for a hearing.

Our goal is to have every qualified applicant receive the benefits they deserve and need. Unfortunately, not everyone who applies on their own have a good experience. That’s when they need to find an experienced disability lawyer to help them.

How Can A Disability Lawyer Help?

If you decide to apply for disability on your own, without help, you’re often required to fill out tons of forms, and gather relevant evidence such as medical records, all while dealing with your medical condition. It can be overwhelming and confusing. You sometimes wonder if the difficulties are designed on purpose so you will give up.

For example when you hire a disability lawyer to help you with the social security disability process, you are required to fill out about 40 pages of forms. When you hire William Herren, you hire an advocate who understands the Social Security disability process and disability law. He can handle the paperwork and evidence gathering for you, and make sure you have what you need. Hiring the right lawyer at the outset can make sure your application is done correctly and that you’re well represented throughout the process.

Another good reason for getting help from a disability lawyer is that they can help you prepare for a Social Security Administration (SSA) examiner’s interview for your case. When you attend this hearing alone, you may say the wrong thing or give too much attention to the wrong things during questioning, because you simply wouldn’t know what is important or relevant or what the examiner is looking for. While you may be focused on the immediate effects of your disability, the examiner is more focused on how your disability impacts your everyday life. A physician or other healthcare provider focuses on your symptoms and treatment and most don’t necessarily understand how the SSA system works. Therefore, your doctor may not be the best person to adequately prepare you for the eventual in-person hearing.

But an experienced disability lawyer should have specific knowledge directly related to the process of filing, the in-person interview, and the appeals process. Therefore, they can prepare for the examiners’ review ahead of time. The attorney will help you with what to say, and more importantly, what not to say. This gives you a better chance of answering the questions correctly and ultimately getting your needed disability benefits.

Reasons to Hire a Disability Lawyer In Houston

The number one reason to hire an experienced disability lawyer in Houston is, of course, you reside in Houston or in Harris County so hiring a local attorney makes sense for personal convenience. William Herren and his staff are very familiar with the insurance companies, the SSA, and area doctors, hospitals etc – meaning he knows who to deal with. His experience brings resources and contacts a less experienced lawyer may not have. Having good professional, and in some cases, friendly relationships help to get things done more efficiently for his clients. While a good doctor and treatment regimen is important for any type of life-changing disability, sometimes a good disability lawyer can help in other ways, such as:

• Be informative and answer any questions along the way
• Help with the initial application process
• Gather all required evidence you need to support your claim of disability
• Present your case in the examiner’s interview
• Assist with appeals if your initial application is denied
• Act as a “coach” ahead of time so that you’ll be prepared to answer all questions correctly
• Taking the pressure off you to get everything correct
• Update the SSA with changes in your medical conditions
• Represent you in a hearing with an administrative law judge if needed

Without the help of an experienced Houston disability lawyer, you’re on your own against a process that can be full of stumbling blocks and “red tape.” For example one of the most important factors is submitting the right medical evidence. Your disability lawyer will communicate with your medical providers and review all medical records to ensure that you have what you need. They have the experience to eliminate anything irrelevant to your case.

Another issue you may run into is the doctor who is unwilling to assist you in getting categorized for your disability. They may believe that the patient isn’t disabled. Perhaps the physician doesn’t understand the process or is just simply not interested in dealing with paperwork. However, these type of doctors will often speak with an attorney representing a patient, especially, as with Mr. Herren, the attorney has more experience dealing with doctors and other healthcare professionals.

Also because a disability lawyer understands the process, they should also make sure that all deadlines are met and you are kept up to date on everything. While the attorney handles the legal side of your case, you can concentrate on taking care of yourself.

Houston Disability Lawyer William Herren

We at Herren Law know the process, know our city of Houston, and are proud of helping more than 4,000 people get the benefits they need. We are ready to help you with your initial application and ensure that your application or appeal is done correctly. We are experienced in helping people successfully navigate through the disability application and appeals process and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.
If you’ve been denied benefits, or don’t know where to start, please call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. We look forward to being of service.

Long Term Disability Exclusions

There are some long term disability exclusions because long-term disability doesn’t necessarily cover every possible disability condition. When you purchase long-term disability insurance, you may believe you understand the coverage and your policy will cover you for most disability scenarios.

elderly man with long term disability

In fact, nearly all long-term disability policies have specific exclusions for certain conditions. Before you go through the process of applying for long-term disability benefits, carefully review your policy and understand what is and is not covered. You will want to understand the long term disability exclusions in your policy. If you are not sure, then you may want to consult with the Herren Law office in Houston, Texas.

What Is An Exclusion?

This is a clause in your policy that you probably agreed to when you purchased it, or you accepted the policy from your employer. An exclusion details a specific situation where the insurance company does not pay you any monthly income. The idea is to exclude coverage for claims that result from or are related to a pre-existing medical condition, or exclude coverage of any claim that could result from any potentially hazardous activities that can lead to the increased risk of potential disability.

Common exclusions include:

Pre-existing conditions, which is a condition you already know you have prior to application. This may include some or all pre-existing conditions, depending on your policy.

Work-related conditions, especially if your occupational injury or illness would otherwise be covered by worker’s compensation benefits.

Specific health conditions such as cancer, heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, are detailed in the policy.

Hazardous or high-risk activities, such as injuries and conditions related to things like bungee jumping and other extreme sports

A normal pregnancy and delivery

Acts of war and conflict, such as a riot, insurrection, or another incident of violence

Other criminal activities

• Self-inflicted injuries. Most policies do not cover any injuries that are self-inflicted or related to a suicide attempt.

Policies with more exclusions generally cost less. The more exclusions you reduce, the higher your premiums. Meaning if it covers more conditions, it will be more expensive as the chances of a claim will also increase.

Mental Health Conditions

Many long-term disability policies also limit or exclude mental health or nervous conditions. This means that if your disability is caused by or contributed to by a mental or nervous condition that’s in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), you may have no benefits or strict limitations on the benefits you can receive.

For policies that do allow for mental health condition claims for disability, the standard limitation is 24 months or two years. Depression, anxiety, stress, and even dementia have a strict 2-year limit in most policies for long-term disability benefits. If you are still disabled because of a mental or nervous condition following the two-year period after your benefit period ends, you will unfortunately no longer be eligible to receive benefit payments.

Alcohol And Substance Abuse

Similar to mental health conditions, many long-term disability insurance policies limit or exclude coverage for any disabilities related to alcohol and substance abuse. Some policies do not cover them at all, but other plans include limitations on how long you could receive benefits.

Handling A Denial

If you think your condition is not a long term disability exclusions, then you apply for benefits.  But even if you are confident your condition is covered under your long-term disability policy, you may be surprised to receive a denial letter from your insurance company. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence with long-term disability applicants. The good news is you have the right to appeal, so take advantage of it.

Read the letter carefully, and make sure that you understand why your claim was denied. It may be that you did not submit enough medical evidence, or there was something else missing from your claim application. The denial letter will tell you why, and what you need for your claim. However this may also be time to consult an experienced long term disability attorney like Bill Herren. Herren Law Office is a Houston, Texas-based law firm serving clients throughout the greater Houston area. With almost 30 years of experience, they’ve helped over 4,000 people with their disability claims. If you are trying to obtain SSDLTD, or VA disability benefits, it is beneficial to get help as soon as possible from an experienced disability attorney.

The letter will also let you know about the deadlines for appealing the company’s decision. It is critical to make sure that you meet these deadlines or you’ll lose your right to appeal altogether.

If you believe your insurance company is acting in bad faith, this is also a reason to engage the services of an experienced disability attorney who can help you file your appeal. A good disability attorney understands how insurance companies work, particularly for claims where they will have to pay out money.

Your Houston Long Term Disability Attorney

If you need help filing a long-term disability claim, or are having trouble with the insurer paying your benefits, or need help preparing an appeal to a denial of benefits, we’re here to help.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians have received the LTD benefits they need. The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals and help you through the process, and give you one less thing to worry about. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees. We only collect if we win your case.

Is Anxiety a Long-Term Disability?

Anxiety Can Be a Debilitating Condition That Can Cause Long-Term Disability

After an upsetting life event, such as losing a loved one, going through a divorce, or losing a job, it’s understandable that a person might find themselves feeling anxious or depressed. But if the anxiety continues long after the event, it becomes chronic and may lead to something more complex.

Anxiety Can Be a Debilitating Condition That Can Cause Long-Term Disability

Anxiety and anxiety disorders can be a crippling and disabling medical conditions for some. If you are experiencing anxiety symptoms that are preventing you from working and everyday life, long-term disability may give you a period in which to receive treatment and recover. But it’s not as easy as it sounds, and denials are common.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

While anxiety can visit most people at any time, individuals with chronic anxiety experience symptoms such as insomnia or hypersomnia, chronic fatigue, and cognitive issues such as lack of concentration. For many people, these impediments are temporary, or manageable to the point where they can work without a problem.

However, GAD may also include symptoms such as:

• Irritability and agitation
• Heart racing
• Restlessness
• Shortness of breath
• Muscle tension
• Grinding of teeth that leads to jaw pain
• Panic, fear, dread, and excessive worrying

These symptoms and others can lead to functional impairment that directly impacts your daily life and employment.

Proving Disability

As with any medical condition, you’ll first have to demonstrate to your insurer that you are, in fact, disabled. Mental conditions such as anxiety will require a more thorough degree of proof.

An evaluator will review all of your medical records, including treatments. This includes things such as weekly visits to a therapist, psychologist, psychotherapist, or psychiatrist, and any prescriptions for your condition.

It’s also important that the evaluator see that not only are you following through with treatment, but your provider is also offering the correct standard of care. This means that although they have prescribed treatment, they must also follow through with monitoring your progress, make adjustments, or even change medication as necessary. If you believe your current provider isn’t offering the correct standard of care, you should seek out another provider, or at least a second opinion.

A strong indicator of disability would be if your doctor suggested you would benefit from hospitalization or intensive outpatient treatment. For that period, you would be unavailable for work which shows that your condition is incompatible with regular employment.

Documentation and letters from your treating physician that describe and support your diagnosis should also be included in your case file. This would include medical records and notes from therapy that describe your ability and limitations on employment-related activities. Your doctor should include specific and distinct restrictions and limitations on your abilities that detail your limitations, rather than generalized statements such as “inability to tolerate stress.”

Mental Illness Limitations

Many LTD policies have strict limits on anxiety and other mental illnesses, which are typically 24 months, or two years. After the period ends, your benefits run out. Some policies may specifically exclude mental illnesses entirely. However, some conditions may have an exemption; that’s why it’s important to read your policy carefully to find out.

A disability attorney can help you with record gathering and make sure your application and claim file has everything you need for a successful LTD claim.

Houston’s LTD Disability Attorney

Over 4,000 Houstonians have come to us for help with LTD claims. The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals, and through the process. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, no up-front fees, and we only collect if we win your case.

Do I Need a Texas Disability Lawyer?

You may wonder if you need a Texas disability lawyer to apply for disability benefits. Unfortunately, applying for disability is a difficult process that is time-consuming and complex. You may seek the advice of friends or family who may already have a disability But when you apply, you may only to be frustrated by administrative delays—or even a denial. But you don’t have to have the this experience.

One option to consider is to find a well experienced Texas disability lawyer like Bill Herren who can help guide you through this complicated process and make things easier.

Do I Need a Texas Disability Lawyer?
Houston Statistics

Whether you grew up  here in the Bayou City or just in the Lone Star State, you know that everything is “bigger in Texas.” Houston is the largest city in Texas and keeps getting bigger.

Our city is home to about 2.3 million people, just in the city, making it the 4th most populated city in the US. (Harris County is the third-largest county in the country.) Houston saw an increase of over 11% in population from 2010 through the 2020 census. It’s expected that Houston will become the 3rd largest population in the US by 2030.

More than 145 languages are spoken here, with people visiting and moving in from nearly every country in the world. Both domestic and international inbound migration shows no signs of slowing down.

Why A Texas Disability Lawyer Can Help You

You aren’t required to have a lawyer file an application for disability, but it really helps. Dealing with a disability application can be frustrating if you decide to undertake it by yourself.

Something else to consider is that with more Houston and Texas residents, there are more people applying for disability here than ever before. What this also means for you is waiting longer for processing and a greater possibility of a denial of application.

The earlier you begin speaking with a disability lawyer, the better. Look for one that offers a free consultation like Herren Law does! Your case should be evaluated and then you should be told if you have a case upon which you can move to apply.  At Herren, we tell you what the procedure will be to apply.

Getting legal help increases your chances of approval in two ways:

• A  good disability lawyer will make sure that your application is done correctly and has everything you need to meet the criteria, (i.e., medical records) and

• You’re more likely to be approved by Social Security if you are represented by a disability lawyer.

If you haven’t spoken to a disability lawyer, go ahead and make an appointment now. Unless you’ve applied and are waiting for an answer from SSA, nearly anytime is a good time to make that call. Attorney William Herren has been helping Houston and Texas residents cut through red tape and get their disability benefits for more than 20 years.

Can I Afford A Texas Disability Lawyer?

If cost is what’s holding you back from considering legal counsel, don’t let it. Most charge little or no fees upfront, and the benefits of having representation will likely outweigh the costs.

That being said, fees for disability lawyers are set by federal law. A Texas disability lawyer can only charge a maximum of 25% of any back pay you receive, up to $6,000. This figure may be a little higher for an appeal, but the fees are capped at $6,000. You’re only charged fees if the attorney wins your case.

If you’re wondering, “where am I going to get $6,000?,”  we’ll explain. The lawyer’s payment comes from something called “back pay.” That’s the lump sum you’ll receive when your benefits begin. The amount will vary based on your monthly payments and the amount you would have received from the date of your application to the date that your monthly benefit payments begin.

For instance: If you apply for disability on January 1, but you aren’t approved to receive benefits until September 1, that’s nine months of benefits. Let’s say your benefits will amount to $700 a month. When you begin receiving your $700 per month benefits, you’ll also receive a lump-sum “backpay” of $6,300, or nine months of $700 monthly benefits from the day you applied.

Your attorney’s fee will be 25% of that back pay, or $1,575 for assistance with the application. You’ll still have $4,725 in backpay and then receive your $700 per month benefits every month.

If your backpay amount is higher, your fee will be higher, but generally not more than $6,000. Your lawyer should  explain this payment process in greater detail during your consultation.

Texas Disability Lawyer William Herren

Applying for a disability is not easy and, given the large population in Houston and Texas, getting it is even more difficult. At Herren Law, we’ve helped more than 4,000 people get the benefits they need. Mr. Herren and his staff are ready to help you with your initial application and ensure that your application is done correctly. If you have already been denied, discuss with us the appeal process.

Remember, call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation. We are very experienced in helping people successfully navigate through the disability application and appeals process, and we can help you too. Our contingency fee means you won’t have to pay until you start receiving benefits.

Is There an Age Limit for Long-Term Disability?

People wonder is there an age limit for long-term disability? Long-term disability is an insurance policy designed to replace your income so that you can pay your living expenses while you’re unable to work. Generally, the payments are about 60% of your income. They provide cash directly to you to pay your bills as you would if you were still working. You may also use it to cover new occupational training or other assistance you may need if you believe you will return to work later.

Is There an Age Limit for Long Term Disability?

This means that you can avoid burning through your savings for your retirement, your children’s education funds, or other future goals.

But is there an age limit for long-term disability? Will it last year, two years, or longer, or will you age out of your policy? There are several factors involved in any LTD policy, including an age limit.

How It Works

Most people have a long-term disability policy through their employer. Others, such as self-employed individuals, may purchase a policy on their own. In many cases, they are accompanied by short-term disability policies. Generally, when the short-term disability policy ends, usually within three to six months, or as long as twelve months, the long-term disability policy begins.

Long-term disability policies usually have a six-month waiting period before payments begin. This is because most people have a short-term disability policy already in place. Long-term disability policies are written to accommodate short-term policies.

Once the waiting period is over, your long-term disability benefits should begin. The benefits are supposed to be paid for as long as you are disabled. Of course, the length of your benefits will also depend on the type of disability you have, how long it’s expected to last, and how disabled you are. A policy that’s written so that you could perform any type of work is different from one that only pays when you are unable to work in your own occupation.

For someone who has a much longer disability, that either keeps them out long term or prevents them from returning to work permanently, the long-term disability policy generally pays for the rest of your disability.

The End Of The Policy

For the person who is disabled for the rest of their working life, a long-term disability policy will continue to pay until the individual is eligible for retirement. Once the individual reaches the point at which they would normally retire, the policy will end, and the status changes to “retired.” The now-former policyholder then begins receiving Social Security and other retirement funds. This can include a pension, a 401K, or other retirement supplements.

However, the age limit for the long-term disability policy will also depend on the policy itself. Some policies end at age 65 or 67 when most people are expected to retire. However, it is possible to purchase a long-term disability policy with an age limit of 70.

Some policies may change their benefit payment schedule if you are disabled after the age of 62. Benefits may be reduced, or given a limited number of months until you are eligible to retire. You can also voluntarily retire before you reach the end of your long-term disability benefits.

Other policies will indicate the number of months for which benefits are payable if you become disabled at or after the age of 65, such as 18 months. Again, this all depends on the individual policy. It’s important to review your policy to see if the insurer will consider your age when determining if you meet their definition of “disability.”

Your age may impact your ability to learn a new occupation or skills, especially if you have only worked in one field for most of your professional career. This may limit the alternative occupations that you may be able to perform after becoming disabled.

Your Houston LTD Disability Attorney

If you’re facing an absence from work due to a long-term disability but are having trouble with the insurer paying your benefits, we’re here to help. We can help with all facets including questions about  the age limit for long-term disability.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians have received the LTD benefits they need. The Herren Law Firm can help you with your application, appeals and help you through the process, and give you one less thing to worry about. Contact us today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation and no up-front fees. We only collect if we win your case.

Am I Able To Get Veteran Disability Back Pay?

Can you get veteran disability back pay? Because the VA is notorious for taking a long time to award disability benefits to veterans, you’ll be happy to know that there is a silver lining. And the longer you must wait, the better your chances of getting back pay.

Am I Able To Get Veteran Disability Back Pay?

Veterans who apply and have trouble getting their benefits may wait months and even years before receiving their monthly VA disability payments. This can lead to a one-time lump sum.

What Is Veterans Disability Back Pay?

There is usually a substantial wait between the time veteran applies for disability benefits and the time they begin to receive these benefits. Therefore, the VA generally pays benefits in full that the veteran is due. This can lead to a substantial payment to make up for the months (or years) waiting for the payments to begin.

Commonly called “back pay,” it’s the difference between the effective date and the date of the benefit award. This means that you may receive a lump sum that’s the total amount of money you would have received monthly if you’d been awarded benefits from your effective date.

Defining The Effective Date

The VA pays benefits from what it calls your “effective date,” which is the latter of two dates. These are the date of your application or the date that your service-connected disability either shows up or increases in severity.

For example: If you apply for VA disability benefits on May 1st, and your benefits are approved on December 1, your monthly benefit payments may not start until the following May. This means that you would receive a lump sum equal to the amount you would have been paid from your application date, which was the original May 1st when you applied. This original May 1st is the effective date.

For most claims, the date of your application is the effective date. However, the second date is usually when a veteran decides to file for the first time or to request an increase in their ratings. That’s why the second effective date would not be the original date of the claim filing.

Sometimes, an earlier effective date may be used. These would be for recently discharged veterans, claims for increased ratings, or Agent Orange exposure claims. The reason for that is because Agent Orange exposure is known as a presumptive service-connected condition.

The VA begins the claims process once the effective date is established for the veteran.

How Much Will I Receive?

As with any legal case, it’s impossible to give an exact dollar amount for a veteran’s disability back pay. Every veteran’s case is different, their benefit amounts are different, and they’re based on each individual’s disability rating.

The eventual back pay award will be based on:

• The amount that the veteran will receive monthly once benefits are awarded
• The number of months and/or years that the veteran has been waiting since his or her effective date.
• The differences in the benefit amount for the months or years that the veteran has been waiting, taking into account factors like cost-of-living adjustments.
• Any other special considerations, such as additional monies for aid & attendance, or other allowances.
The longer you have been waiting, the larger your possible back pay will be. As always, veterans’ benefits are tax-free. This includes anything you receive as back pay.

Appeal If You’ve Been Denied

For a handful of reasons, many VA claims are denied at the outset. If this has happened to you, don’t re-apply for VA benefits—file an appeal instead.

If you submit another application, your effective date will change. This means you could lose hundreds and even thousands of dollars in back pay. Using the above example, if your claim is denied in December, and you reapply at that time, your new effective date will be December 1st, not the original May 1st. You will in this example lose six months of potential back pay, if not more.

After a successful review or an appeal, you may also receive back pay.

It’s important to note that all applications for VA disability benefits must be made in writing. If you have had discussions with an attorney, a veterans service officer (VSO), or a VA representative about filing a claim, don’t assume that it has been done for you.

The VA has considerable discrepancies in notifying veterans about the possibility of having a claim. Therefore, it’s up to you to begin the process. The effective date of your award is always on the date of your written claim, and not before. Working with a disability law attorney can make the process easier and make sure that your application is done correctly the first time and that any appeals are handled well.

Herren Law Helps Houston Veterans

Getting veteran’s disability back pay and benefits is a long, arduous process that takes patience as well as understanding the law. William Herren is a disability attorney who has helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they deserve, including veterans. Call The Herren Law Firm today at 713-682-8194 (or use our online contact form) to schedule your free consultation. There’s no obligation, and we’ll take your case on a contingency fee basis, with no up-front charges. You don’t owe a fee until we win your case.

Is A Mental Health Disorder Eligible For Disability?

Most people think that disability is strictly for individuals who are physically disabled. But a mental health disorder can be equally disabling, especially if not properly treated. If you have a mental health disorder that prevents you from working or inhibits your everyday functioning, you may also be eligible for disability payments.

Is A Mental Health Disorder Eligible For Disability?

Adults who are living with a mental health disorder may not have the funds to take care of themselves or to be able to seek treatment. Millions of people with disabilities are unable to get proper treatment because they do not have the means to obtain care. But it’s vital to get a diagnosis before pursuing a claim for disability.

The Blue Book

Social Security has an organized listed list of impairments, commonly called the “Blue Book.” Mental disorders are contained in Section 12 and are arranged into 11 categories. These are the impairments that are serious enough to prevent a person from working. It also lists the medical requirements that determine if a person can receive benefits for a disability.

Conditions in the Blue Book already meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. However, children who are applying for SSI will not be based on an occupation, but whether a condition will cause “marked and severe functional limitations”

Just being diagnosed with an illicit condition does not automatically qualify you for disability benefits. The Blue Book details the symptoms, test results, and other data that show that your condition is serious enough to be actually disabling according to SSA guidelines. It also lists the records you need to prove to the SSA that you are disabled.

Social Security Requirements for a Mental Health Disorder

Social Security’s requirements for mental disorders are much the same as physical disorders. It must be a condition that will keep you disabled and unable to work for at least 12 months.

To show that you are disabled, you will also need medical evidence that documents your disability and shows how it prevents you from working and disrupts your everyday life. This will include things such as psychiatrist’s notes, lists of medications, treatment records, any associated diagnostics, and documented impacts of your symptoms on your “activities of daily living,” or ADL.

You must have these documents available and in order before attempting to file your claim application. While SSDI can be done online, SSI requires an in-person interview and cannot be completed online.

There are two disability programs available:

• For Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, you will need to have previously worked and paid into the Social Security system for five of the last ten years. Monthly benefits are based on your lifetime earnings, known as your “average indexed monthly earnings,” or AIME. You will qualify for Medicaid after 24 months.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed for those who have not paid into Social Security in the last ten years or have never worked. Both adults and children can qualify for SSI. If you qualify for SSI, you also qualify for Medicaid benefits.

If you are unable to work but don’t meet the bluebook’s criteria to qualify on a medical basis, you can still be approved with a medical-vocational allowance. It will take your age, work history, educational background, transferable skills, and medical condition into consideration. Your physician can fill out a residual functional capacity form, or RFC, to add to your disability claim.

The RFC will indicate if you have difficulty focusing, cannot work with others, have difficulties with communications, are unable to complete a task, etc. It lists these indicators and symptoms so that the examiner can understand whether or not you can work, and what type of work you are able to do. Including an RFC from your psychiatrist or psychologist can be key to approval for your claim.

Get Help With A Mental Health Disability Application From Herren Law

Having a mental health disorder can prevent you from working and impact your daily life. We also understand how important it is for you to receive your benefits in a timely fashion. Herren Law has helped over 4000 Houstonians receive the disability benefits they need.

When you call us, we’ll immediately begin going through your records, working with you one-on-one, and representing you during your hearings. The first step in getting an experienced SSD attorney on your side is to contact our Houston law office at (713) 682-8194. We offer free, no-obligation consultations, and there is no fee unless we win your case.

Get A Disability Lawyer Before Applying For Benefits

As anyone who’s ever done this will tell you, applying for disability benefits is a long, arduous process that is complicated as well as confusing.  You should consider getting a disability lawyer from the get go!  Many applicants don’t understand how to fill out the required paperwork or submit the correct medical documentation. It’s the main reason why more than 65% of disability claims are denied at the first application.

Get A Disability Lawyer Before Applying For Benefits

Another reason is that most people don’t normally deal with Social Security and so are unfamiliar with the process.  A good disability attorney understands the claim, the process, the laws surrounding disability claims, and what’s needed for a successful claim.

You do have the right to legal counsel, but it’s not a requirement. But there are reasons why you should consider working with a disability lawyer before you apply for benefits. You undoubtedly need financial help and messing around with this process may end up a waste of time, especially if you eventually need a disability lawyer to help anyway.

Consultation with a Disability Lawyer

While it’s true that an attorney is not required, the truth is that their knowledge and expertise go a long way in making it easier on you and increasing your chances of success.

You will want to look for a disability lawyer offering a free consultation to discuss your situation. You can use that consultation to discuss your reason for filing a claim and they can tell you what you need to know going forward.

You’ll also have a better idea of what you need to get started. They can tell you about the medical records, test results, and other medical documentation you’ll need for your application. They can also advise you on specific situations that you are experiencing and how to approach them before you start.

If it make sense after the consultation, you can hire the lawyer to handle this on your behalf. At Herren Law, all work is done on contingency meaning you will not be charged a fee unless we win your case.

Your Claim

After speaking with an attorney, starting the process will be easier. You’ll know what you need and where to get it. If you decide to hire a disability attorney, you’ll have expert advice every step of the way and minimize any guesswork. You’ll know that your application is correct before filing and you have everything you need.

Should your application for some reason lack any information or documentation, you can consult with your attorney to find out what you need to do to remedy this situation.

If your initial application is denied, even with expert help, you’ll already have legal counsel that  can guide you through the appeals process. You won’t have to worry that the attorney doesn’t understand your case because he or she should already be familiar with your situation. This makes it easier to work your appeal. Your attorney can advise you on your application, your appeal, and represent you if you are required to go to a hearing.

How Much Does It Cost?

That’s always the biggest question–money. Disability attorneys don’t work for free but may work on a contingency fee basis, like Herren Law Firm does. This means that they get paid when you receive a settlement because they receive a portion of it. If the attorney is unsuccessful, they will not be allowed to be paid. Therefore, most attorneys are motivated in successful outcomes.

The Social Security Administration has rules that limit the amount of money a lawyer can charge you and they also approve your fee agreement with an attorney.  The attorney cannot charge more than $6000, or 25% of your back pay, whichever is less. Their payment is taken from your past-due benefits and sent directly to the attorney. The SSA does this to avoid any extra charges. The attorney is paid directly so you won’t have to deal with that part.

Be aware that your attorney may bill you for some out-of-pocket expenses, such as obtaining medical reports. These are not subject to approval by Social Security.

The amount that they are paid will also depend on where you are in your application process. If you are beginning your application, the attorney will likely be awarded 25% of any back pay you receive. But since there isn’t much in the way of backpay from an initial application, their portion of the settlement will be much less. But if you are in an appeal situation, chances are your back pay will be a higher amount. In this case, attorney fees are capped at $6000, even if the 25% figure would be higher.

Social Security has more information on your right to representation by legal counsel.

Let Herren Law Help

Applying for disability is difficult and dealing with a large government agency like Social Security can be intimidating. But we can help you at the beginning and ensure that the process is as smooth as possible. If you have been denied benefits, we can help you file an appeal if appropriate.

If you believe you have a claim or have already been denied,  call the Herren Law Firm today at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 to schedule your free consultation.  We are experienced in helping people successfully navigate through the application and appeals process, and we can help you too.

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