Posts in:October, 2019

Common Reasons SSA Denies Benefits

Posted October 25, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Every year, millions of Americans file Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) claims. Of these, roughly 70% are denied at the initial level of the claims process. There are various reasons why disability benefits would be denied, and there are a number of different ways that applicants can be better prepared for the process.

  • Lack of Medical Evidence. One of the most common reasons Social Security disability benefits are denied is the lack of concrete medical records. In order for your claim to be approved, you must provide substantial evidence to show that your medical condition hinders your ability to work your current job and will keep you from working in a similar role for at least one year. Having medical records from your primary care physician—indicating that your condition has affected your ability to work—is a requirement for the application process and is carefully reviewed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) during the claims evaluation.
  • Income Exceeds the SGA Allowance. To be eligible for disability benefits, you must be unable to engage in what is known as substantial gainful activity, or SGA. The SSA defines substantial gainful activity as work that involves significant and productive duties and work that pays more than the current monthly income limit. In 2019, the monthly income limit is $1,220 (or $2,110 for those who are visually impaired). If you are working part-time while applying for disability benefits, the SSA will consider your monthly income when deciding whether to approve your claim and how much you may receive in benefits. If your part-time income exceeds the SGA allowance amount, you will not be eligible to receive benefits.
  • Previous Denial. While it is crucial to file your initial claim as soon as you and your doctor determine that a medical condition may keep you out of work for more than a year, you should not immediately file a new claim if your original one is denied. If you do so, and nothing has changed, your new claim will be denied as well. If you are denied benefits for either a medical or non-medical reason, you may appeal the denial. If you need to file an appeal, the SSA allows you to complete an online appeals process, or you can reach out to a local Social Security office. You may also choose to hire an attorney or advocate to help you with the appeal process.
  • Failure to Follow Prescribed Treatment. It is imperative that you follow any treatment prescribed by your doctor, as this is a key variable in the claims decision process.  If you do not follow your treatment plan, SSA examiners will not be able to accurately determine whether your disability truly prevents your ability to work because you are not taking the proper steps to treat the condition. Failure to follow treatment also indicates a lack of care as to whether you get better and re-enter the workforce, which is a red flag for reviewers and will result in a denied claim.
  • Failure to Cooperate with the Claims Process. When applying for Social Security disability benefits, always follow the instructions for the application process and provide all documents and information needed by the SSA. If you fail to provide any necessary documentation—or fail to attend any scheduled meeting or medical exams—your claim may be denied. A full list of required documents and potential application questions is available online.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®


Disability Advocate Sues the City of Minneapolis over Rental Scooters

Posted October 18, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

An advocate for people with disabilities is suing the city of Minneapolis and two electric scooter sharing companies, alleging the vehicles have made sidewalks inaccessible. The suit alleges that Minneapolis officials have failed to “adequately maintain the system of sidewalks, crosswalks, curb ramps, transit stops, pedestrian crossings and other walkways.” While making a hefty profit, the e-scooter companies have transformed public space into “private retail stores, showrooms, highways, and storage facilities,” the suit alleges, all “in abject disregard for the safety and access rights of residents or visitors with disabilities to the City of Minneapolis.”

Noah McCourt, who has autism and a coordination disorder that slows his reaction time, said he’s constantly dodging scooters on the sidewalk, and was left with a large bruise on his leg after tripping over a scooter at a light rail station.

McCourt said the vehicles are also an impediment to people who use wheelchairs. He claims in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday that the city and scooter companies are violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“Cities always act like this is no big deal,” McCourt said. “They pooh pooh you. But this is a big deal for people with disabilities.”

A Minneapolis spokesperson said the city is not commenting on the lawsuit.

Lime, one of the other defendants, said in a statement that it has “engaged disability advocates,” and is working to “educate riders and the community about proper riding and parking etiquette to ensure scooters are parked in an orderly, respectful way.”

Bird, the other scooter operator named in McCourt’s lawsuit, ended operations in Minneapolis in late 2018.

The electric scooters reach up to 15 mph. They are dockless, meaning users can leave them anywhere — a perennial source of criticism for those who find them unsightly. Riders aren’t supposed to use sidewalks, but many do, and emergency room doctors say they’ve seen an uptick in injuries since the scooters arrived, mostly from people not wearing helmets.

The litigation follows a similar federal suit filed earlier this year in San Diego.

Minnesota law generally prohibits riding electric scooters on sidewalks. There are about 3,000 of the devices in use in the Twin Cities.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

Sources: ;

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Cost-of-Living Adjustment for 2020 Announced

Posted October 11, 2019 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

The Social Security Administration has announced its cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for 2020. Each year, federal benefit rates increase when the cost of living rises, as measured by the Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index (CPI-W).

The CPI-W rises when inflation increases, making your cost of living go up. This means prices for goods and services, on average, are a little more expensive, so the COLA helps to offset these costs.

As a result, nearly 69 million Americans will see a 1.6 percent increase in their Social Security and SSI benefits in 2020.

January 2020 marks other changes that will happen based on the increase in the national average wage index. For example, the maximum amount of earnings subject to Social Security payroll tax, as well as the retirement earnings test exempt amount, will change in 2020. The monthly substantial gainful activity (SGA) amount will be $1,260 for a non-blind individual and $2,110 for a blind individual. The monthly earnings threshold for a trial work period (for those already receiving benefits) will change to $910.

Contact our office today if you or anyone you know would like to learn more about qualifying for Social Security Disability benefits.

You can find more information about the 2020 COLA here.

By: Joyce Trudeau of Premier Disability Services, LLC®