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.

Is Diverticulitis A Recognized Social Security Disability?

Some people wonder if diverticulitis is recognized as a Social Security disability. Diverticulitis is a condition in which small pouches form primarily in the large intestine but can occur anywhere in the digestive tract. The pouches themselves may not cause a problem. But if they become infected and/or inflamed, they can lead to a range of sudden-onset symptoms, including bloating, gas, constipation or diarrhea, nausea and vomiting, a tender abdominal area, fever, and chills, and a loss of appetite.

Is Diverticulitis A Recognized Social Security Disability?
But as bad as diverticulitis can be, it’s not recognized as a “disability” by Social Security. Their reasoning for this is that it is not only treatable but doesn’t last more than 12 months. As a rule, a condition needs to prevent you from working for 12 months or more or end in death. Diverticulitis usually doesn’t fit the criteria exactly. However, it is possible to receive SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) for diverticulitis.


Because diverticulitis generally improves within 12 months, the condition alone will likely not qualify you for SSDI. But if you experience complications such as abscesses, fistulas, dramatic weight loss, and/or intestinal bleeding, your chances increase that you will become eligible. If your medical history indicates a history of long-term digestive illnesses, your chances are higher yet that you’ll qualify for disability.

Social Security’s listing contains conditions that automatically qualify for benefits but does not have a listing specifically for diverticulitis. However many people experience some of the same symptoms as the other digestive listings, and so may become eligible under those conditions.

Qualifying Conditions

If you have one or more of these conditions, you may qualify for SSDI as part of other digestive-related conditions:

• Severe weight loss despite medical treatment and medications, measured as a BMI of less than 17.50 over a six-month period.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), an umbrella term that covers several chronic intestinal digestive illnesses, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s.
• Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging, or serious, recurrent bleeding anywhere in the digestive system that required a blood transfusion.
• Short bowel syndrome, in which a significant amount of small intestine is removed, is known as “bowel diversion surgery.”

Social Security will rate you based on a Residual Functional Capacity assessment, or RFC. That is, you’ll be rated based on what you are able to do despite the limitations of your current medical condition.

If you can do some type of work with your current condition, SSA will deny your claim. However, SSA determines that there isn’t a job that can accommodate your condition, or you can’t perform based on your condition and its limitations, you may be approved or benefits under a medical-vocational allowance. In this case, SSA will examine your age, skill set, work history, and other factors to determine if you are able to continue working elsewhere or truly unable to continue working.

Houston’s Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney

As you can see, the laws surrounding SSDI are complex and the process can be difficult to maneuver. With an experienced disability law firm to help, you can get your application completed right the first time and have a better chance of receiving the benefits you deserve.

We’ve helped over 4,000 Houstonians get SSDI and other 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 user 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.

Will I Get Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have COPD?

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is an umbrella term for diseases of the lungs that include emphysema and chronic bronchitis. COPD develops when the lungs and airways become irritated, inflamed, and ultimately, damaged. Both result in decreased airflow, more difficulty breathing, and always become progressively worse.

Will I Get Social Security Disability Benefits If I Have COPD?

COPD also adds to the heart’s burden, leading to pulmonary heart disease. Oxygen therapy, medications, and pulmonary rehabilitation are the main treatments available. While lung transplants are considered the “cure,” most patients aren’t healthy or strong enough to undergo the surgery.


The vast majority of COPD cases are from long-term tobacco smoking, either first-hand or second-hand. A few cases are due to workplace exposure to airborne substances, such as welding fumes, grain, flour and coal dust, cadmium dust, and fumes, among others. Smokers who experience these irritants may have an increased risk of developing COPD long before they would have with just smoking.

Most patients also have other conditions (called “comorbidities”) alongside COPD, including:

  • Hypertension
  • Diabetes
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Obesity
  • Depression and other mental illness conditions

Should you become unable to work due to COPD, disability may be your next option.

Qualifying For SSDI With COPD

A person who is unable to work due to advanced COPD can qualify for SSDI. Like any disability, a medical diagnosis is not enough. You’ll need evidence to prove that your condition is serious enough to prevent you from working for at least 12 months.

The “blue book” requirements for COPD are:

  • A Forced Expiratory Volume One (FEV1) is equal to or lower to the minimum for your height. This is between 1.05 for five-foot individuals and 1.65 for six-foot individuals
  • A Gas Diffusion Capacity (DLCO) of a single breath under 10.5 mil/min/mm Hg or a low amount of oxygen dissolved in the blood either during rest or exercise, determined a low partial pressure of oxygen (PO2) and high partial pressure of carbon dioxide (PCO2).

Additional required medical evidence for COPD disability includes:

  • Physician’s records and notes
  • Results from diagnostic testing, such as:
    • Lung function tests i.e., Lung Diffusion Capacity
    • Imaging: MRIs, CT scans, chest X-Rays
    • Blood tests
    • Arterial blood gas analysis, a test that demonstrates how well your lungs intake oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide
    • Spirometry results or the amount of air you can force out when exhaling), which includes the FEV1 reading

If you can show that your conditions are severe enough, you may qualify even without meeting the blue book listing. You’ll need to show that COPD prevents you from earning a minimum monthly income. The SSA will review your claim and decide upon a “Residual Functioning Capacity” (RFC). It can then approve you for a medical-vocational allowance.

Social Security also considers your age, past work history and experience, and age when making any decision. Additionally, you’ll need enough Social Security “work credits” to qualify for SSDI for any condition. If you do not, you will likely qualify for SSI instead.

Houston Attorney For SSDI

Applying for SSDI is a difficult and complex process. When you work with an experienced disability law firm, your application will be completed correctly the first time. You’ll have a better chance of being awarded the benefits you deserve and avoiding a long appeals process.

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.

Can You Qualify For Both Unemployment And Social Security Benefits?

The pandemic caused millions to lose their jobs or simply stop working when businesses shut down. Those who could work from home, but others with non-desk jobs had no choice but to leave and take unemployment.

Now that more shutdowns may be on the horizon, more people may be back on unemployment. But if you were also receiving Social Security benefits, you may be wondering how this will work. Can you get both?

Can You Qualify For Both Unemployment And Social Security Benefits?

It sounds odd, but you can, if you meet all of the criteria for Social Security. However, it’s not as easy as it sounds.


First, unemployment insurance (UI) does not prevent you from receiving Social Security benefits. Earned wages and income from work are what’s considered “income” and counted against the income limits. Unemployment benefits are not counted as “income” under Social Security’s guidelines.

However, UI is handled on the state level, much will depend on the state’s rules. In Texas, you’ll need to speak with the Texas Workforce Commission to find out exactly how the Lone Star State handles UI with Social Security.

At one time, most states reduced the amount of unemployment paid to older workers who also received Social Security. Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, and South Dakota still reduce the amount of UI without complete disqualification. In other states, these laws have been largely eliminated.


To apply for Social Security benefits, you must be at least 62 and have a qualifying work history. You must also be:

  • A U.S. citizen or a permanent legal resident of the United States with a documented residency period
  • Show a 10-year work history and have at least 40 work credits. Credits are earned after earning a minimum income level each quarter
  • Not specifically barred from program participation, such as railroad workers whose pension plans opted out of Social Security on their behalf
  • Disabled
  • The retired spouse, surviving spouse, or dependent of a program participant

Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, may disqualify you from unemployment insurance. By receiving disability, it means that you are too disabled to work, and therefore, ineligible for UI.

You can apply for unemployment at any time online through your state’s agency website (such as the Texas Workforce Commission above.) In states other than the above ones, you will not be required to disclose Social Security payments, although it’s suggested that you should mention it to someone you speak with to ensure that everything is in order.

Both Social Security and UI have income limits on what you can bring in before a reduction in your benefit amounts.

Social Security vs. Unemployment Insurance

While it is possible to get both, remember that UI is short-term while Social Security is long-term.

During the pandemic, unemployment benefits were extended and enriched, helping many people make ends meet while they were out of work.

When the full force of pandemic shutdowns happened, many people from 62 to 65 who found themselves unemployed began applying to receive Social Security. While this may help in the short term, in the long term, your lifetime payments are reduced.

But waiting until your full retirement age, whether 65 to 67, depending on your birth date, will ensure that you receive 100% of your earned retirement benefits. If you wait until age 70, you’ll receive even more.

Rescinding Your Social Security Benefits

If you decided to begin taking Social Security while unemployed and change your mind later, you can withdraw your application for benefits until a future date. Here’s how it works:

  • You must file to rescind within 12 months of receiving Social Security
  • You must repay all benefits received, including family benefits
  • You can only do this one time

The advantage is that your application will be an “annulment” for your original start date, and you can continue to work and contribute. Your benefits will grow over time, and when you turn 70, you’ll automatically receive Social Security at a higher rate.

Call Us For Help With Social Security, Disability, And Other Claims

We’re experienced in handling all types of benefit claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the benefits they need. 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.


The Five Top Reasons You May Be Denied Disability Benefits in Houston

Applying for disability benefits is a long-term and complicated process. Even if you believe you’ve done everything correctly, you may still be denied disability benefits.

The truth is, out of the millions of applications submitted to the Social Security Administration, a full 70% of applicants see their initial application for disability benefits denied. But in order to increase your chances of being in the 30% that are approved, it’s important to understand why the other 70% are denied.

The Five Top Reasons You May Be Denied Disability Benefits in Houston

Incomplete Medical Evidence

It’s one of the most important parts of your application, and yet many people don’t submit enough. You’ll need to show substantial medical evidence from your doctor, hospital, or another healthcare provider that demonstrates your inability to work, and how your condition prevents you from working.

The medical evidence from your primary treating physician provides the full story on your condition. During your visits, it’s important to discuss your inability to work with your doctor so that it can be documented in your records. Even if you are sent to a medical exam by Social Security, chances are one exam will not be enough to demonstrate disability.

Additional documents such as documented missed work time and doctor’s notes excusing you from certain types of work are also useful to submit with medical records.

Not Following Medical Advice Or A Treatment Plan

Even if you are seeing a doctor for your condition, you must show that you are consistently following a treatment plan. Without it, the evidence of your condition is inconsistent and doesn’t show if your condition is improving or worsening. It also may indicate that you are unwilling to cooperate with treatment. If there is a legitimate reason why you are unable to continue treatment, you can mention it in a hearing. In this case, you should discuss your case with a disability benefits attorney beforehand, and have them represent you in the hearing.

Earning Too Much Income

Some applicants may still be working and are earning more money than the limit for substantial gainful activity (SGA). In other words, someone who earns more than $940 a month is making more than disability pays. Social Security only approves applications for benefits to people who are unable to work. In this case, you’ll be denied disability benefits whatever the severity of your condition.

Not Cooperating With SSA

The Social Security Administration may contact you to ask questions or to request additional documentation. If you don’t supply all the requested information, don’t attend a scheduled medical exam, or attend a meeting with the SSA, your application will be denied.

You can prepare ahead of time with a full listing of what you’ll need to apply from the SSA’s website.

Filing A New Claim After Denial

Many people will simply re-file their application after they receive a disability benefits denial letter, only to be denied again. Without understanding why the original claim was denied, the new claim is also denied.

Don’t re-file your application. Your denial letter will indicate your right to appeal, and how to file one. You may benefit from a consultation with a disability benefits attorney who can advise you on the appeals process.

The Next Step—Appeal

If you’ve received a denial letter, don’t give up. You have the right to appeal, so use it.

There may be other reasons for denial as well. It’s important to file your appeal as soon as you can, following the instructions given by SSA.

Because the process can take a significant amount of time, you don’t want to have your claim denied on appeal. Instead of leaving your appeal to chance, working with a disability benefits law attorney can increase your chances of approval on appeal. The important thing is not to give up and get help this time.

Call Us For Help With Your Disability Appeal

We’re experienced in handling all types of disability claims and have helped more than 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they need. 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.

Can I Get SSDI Benefits For Opioid Addiction From Prescribed Medication?

Can I get SSDI benefits for Opioid Addiction from prescribed medication?

Opioid addiction have become one of US’s biggest drug concerns. This type of drug can be either synthetically produced or derived from opium. Most commonly used as pain relief, they are effective, but also have the potential to become addictive in some patients.

The term “opioids” can include anything from the illicit heroin to synthetic versions like fentanyl (a very tiny amount can be instantly fatal) as well as prescription pain relievers such as morphine, codeine, oxycodone (also known as OxyContin), hydrocodone (also known as Vicodin) and a number of others.

Opioids are great at relieving chronic pain, but patients can’t just stop taking them or they quickly experience withdrawal. The unfortunate nature of their effectiveness is also the pathway to addiction.

More than 40% of individuals on Social Security Disability are prescribed opioids for pain relief. Many are on very high doses for musculoskeletal disorders, which comprised 94% of chronic users. Depression among opioid users is about 38%. But if you find yourself unable to live without them, even when properly prescribed by a doctor, you could be addicted.

What Is An Opioid?

The term “opioid” describes a class of drugs that bind to the body’s opioid receptors. Morphine and other opioids are frequently prescribed for pain.

Opioids can also offer a feeling of euphoria, leading to the continued use and eventual mis-use of prescriptions. This is how many people become addicted in a short period of time.

Prescription opioid addiction is a particularly difficult situation, because the patient is frequently in a certain degree of pain. As with any addictive drug, the patient may find themselves increasing the amount of medication to get the same degree of relief from the drug. Eventually, they can’t stop taking the drug, because they may experience severe withdrawal symptoms as well as the return of physical pain. In some cases, patients may turn to more illegal forms of opioid like heroin if they are unable to acquire additional prescriptions.

Disability For Opioid Addiction

Social Security’s rules for disability due to addiction are very straightforward, and the short answer is usually “no.” But it’s not that simple.

Social Security doesn’t consider a drug addiction of any kind a disabling condition, even if it prevents someone from working. Only until it produces irreversible, permanent conditions does the Social Security Administration consider someone eligible for disability. All cases are reviewed in the same manner, no matter how the disability occurred.

SSA does not consider an addiction to properly prescribed prescription drugs to need a drug addiction or alcoholism determination (DAA.) However, SSA can take into consideration the disabling effects and limitations caused by a prescription that is used to treat a condition that a claimant is applying for. The side effects of a medication should be included when describing the seriousness of a patient’s condition.

In Social Security Ruling 13-2p, the SSA clarifies this point by stating that a DAA determination is “not to be applied” in cases of “addiction to, or use of, prescription medications taken as prescribed, including methadone and narcotic pain medications.” This also means that any side effects of the prescription will be taken into account when considering if a claimant’s symptoms are severe enough to be disabling.

What SSA Will Consider

The SSA previously had a listing for drug addiction, but as of 2018, that listing no longer exists. Impairments that result from a substance abuse addiction include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Seizures
  • Brain damage (neurocognitive disorders)
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Gastritis
  • Pancreatitis

Of course, as with any condition, the SSA will require evidence of your condition, including diagnostic reports, your treating physicians’ contact information, details of any hospitalization, and a list of your medications and associated side effects.

While chronic misuse of opioids such as codeine may not produce permanent organ damage, improvements in brain imaging offer evidence of abnormalities as a result of codeine. This may also apply to other forms of opioid narcotics.

Permanent limitations that result from opioid drug use may be considered disabling if they are to the degree that they are serious enough to rate.

Houston’s Opioid Addiction Attorney

Social Security Disability laws are complicated and complex. If you’ve been denied disability payments for drug addiction or other debilitating condition, call us immediately. We’re ready to help.

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 user 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.


The Role Of A “Vocational Expert” At Disability Hearings In Houston

One of the biggest sticking points in a disability claim is whether or not you can go back to work. Depending on your previous occupation, your disability claim may hinge on whether or not you can continue to work at your “old job.”

The Role Of A Vocational Expert At Disability Hearings In Houston

The Social Security Administration employs the use of an expert witness to help them determine your ability to return to work. Known as a “vocational expert,” these individuals assess both your abilities and the current labor market skills and needs, and testify in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at your hearing.

What The Vocational Expert Does

This is the person who looks at your limitations, the current job market, current skills, and your past work history and decides whether or not you can return to some kind of work, or if you are too disabled to work. This testimony is important, and can be the difference between having your claim approved or denied.

A VE is not an attorney, and their opinion is considered to be impartial. He or she will have degrees and training related to the profession, as well as related work experience. The VE will review 15 years of your work experience to determine if you have any transferable skills to a different occupation.

Job Title Vs. Your Actual Job

Just because you had a specific job title doesn’t mean you did the same thing as others with the same title. The VE must also understand the actual responsibilities you had and the tasks you were required to perform. It’s important that the VE know what you did in your last job, rather than a generally accepted job description or the description in the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT)  or the Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

It is also important that you (or your disability law attorney) ask the VE to explain the job title and the associated duties used to describe your previous work.

During a hearing, your attorney will ask you questions about your last job, what you did, as well as things like physical requirements that were a part of the job. This clarifies the job title vs. actual job quandary so that your side is accurately represented. The VE should use the job title along with the skills and duties that were included in your previous work.

Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)

One option that a VE may use is a residual functional capacity assessment to find out what you can and can’t do in relation to your previous employment. This report describes the maximum exertion you can do in a normal work setting on a daily and continual basis.

Additionally, the VE and/or the ALJ will need to assess “function-by-function” to determine your limitations in the RFC compared to the requirements of your past occupations. If the RFC does not agree with the job conditions, you may be ruled disabled.

What A Disability Law Attorney Does For You

While the ALJ asks the vocational expert a series of questions, including hypothetical ones, a disability law attorney will cross-examine the VE and challenge their view on what you can and cannot do.

Cross examining the VE challenges him or her on his or her findings of your limitations and abilities and asking about things that the ALJ left out of the hypotheticals will increase your chances of winning your claim. Without an attorney, you’re at the mercy of people who may or may not have your best interests at heart.

Need Help With A Disability Claim? Let Herren Law Help

The Herren Law Firm has helped over 4,000 clients successfully win their claims. We can help 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.

How Can I Help My Elderly Family Member With SSDI?

Elderly individuals don’t always have the capacity, understanding or frame of reference to take care of their needed affairs in the face of everything online. Many seniors have gone online, taking care of their accounts and joining Facebook to keep up with faraway family members. But there are still many elderly people who just won’t go near technology.

How Can I Help My Elderly Family Member With SSDI?

When it comes to applying for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), they may not know where to go or who to call or what to do. Fortunately, by becoming an advocate, there are some things you can do to help them.

What Is Disability?

Strictly speaking, the Social Security Administration considers a “disability” as a condition that prevents someone from doing “substantial gainful activity” for a period of 12 months or expected to keep them from such activity for the coming 12 months. For someone who’s working, that means they cannot earn more than $1170 per month (current 2017 guidelines.)

A disability decision will also depend heavily on medical records and an individual’s medical history. The records must contain evidence of a “functional limitations,” or the inability to work. An individual’s age may be a supporting factor in an SSDI case since the Social Security Administration’s system weighs toward individuals over 50. A disabled individual can be working part-time when they apply, so long as they don’t earn more than the current guidelines.

Gather Important Records

Before you start an application, you’ll need to find your family member’s important records. You’ll need this information to complete the application. You can go online to complete the application at SSA, by phone at 1-800-772-1213, make an appointment and visit the nearest SSA office in person.

You’ll need:

·         Their Birth Certificate

·         Social Security Number/Card

·         Marriage/divorce/dependent records

·         Employment records going back 15 years, the last date worked and accompanying W-2 forms

·         Any public assistance they are currently receiving (food stamps, etc.)

·         Medical records, particularly those documenting the disabling condition

·         Any current prescriptions taken by the family member

·         Names and contact information for doctors and/or hospitals prescribing the medications

Medical Evidence

To substantiate the disability claim, the individual must have current medical records that support the claim and explain exactly how the condition (physical or mental) prevents him or her from working (called “functional limitations.”)  If medical records meet all the requirements to a Social Security Impairment Listing, showing exactly why the individual is unable to work, they’ll be approved immediately for benefits. If not, Social Security will then determine what kind of work the individual is suited for.

Disability claims are based primarily on evidence in someone’s medical records. So if your family member hasn’t had a medical evaluation, make sure they get one as soon as possible to establish a “disability.”

How Age Affects The SSDI Application

If your family member is over 50, Social Security considers them to be “close to retirement.” Education and work history is also a consideration, including things like transferable work skills. Residual functional capacity, or what type of work an individual is suited for in their present condition, is also taken into consideration.

Social Security uses a “medical vocational grid” to establish an individual’s ability to work based on prior work and age. Individuals over 65 who are still working but are forced to retire because of a disability generally won’t be required to find other suitable work.

The Hearing

Applicants will be required to attend an in-person or phone interview for their SSDI application. These are primarily to discuss the facts of the case, and a determination won’t be made at that time. You’ll need to have all of your family member’s records available so he or she can answer questions without wasting time.

The hearing is simply a meeting with an administrative law judge whose job is to determine if your family member meets the criteria for “disability.” Answering questions clearly and succinctly are key in getting a determination. An SSDI attorney cases can help with “rehearsing” beforehand or offer a list of questions that may be asked in the hearing.

Patience Is Required

SSDI’s application process takes a long time, and acceptance is not guaranteed. An appeal is almost a necessity before an individual is approved for disability.

Denied for SSDI?

Herren Law has helped over 4,000 Houstonians get the disability benefits they deserve, and we’ll be happy to help you. Call us at (713) 682-8194 or (800) 529-7707 for a free consultation. We’ll talk with you about your case and let you know how we can help. Our contingency fee arrangement means you won’t owe us anything unless we win your case.


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