Posts in:May, 2023

Navigating the SSD Application Process for Veterans

Posted May 26, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Transitioning from military service to civilian life brings its own unique hurdles, one of which might be securing Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If you’re a veteran, you’re already well-practiced in tackling complex procedures, and getting to grips with the SSD application process is another mission that’s yours to embark upon. Here’s a simplified walk-through of the steps you’ll need to keep in mind during this journey.

Step 1: Understanding the Dual Eligibility

Your VA benefits might already be in place due to a disability linked to your service. However, SSD benefits play by a different rulebook. Here, the focus is not just whether your disability is service-related, but also whether it stops you from taking up any sort of work, not just the specific job you did before your disability.

Step 2: Making Use of the Wounded Warrior Program

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the sacrifices made by veterans. To show this, they’ve set up the Wounded Warriors program. This program speeds up the process of reviewing disability claims for service members who got disabled while on active duty on or after October 1, 2001.

Step 3: Gathering Essential Documentation

Just as you’d prepare for a military operation, applying for SSD benefits also needs the right kind of preparation – in this case, paperwork. You’ll need to collect things like medical records and work history, and sometimes, letters from friends, family, or coworkers that tell about how your disability affects your daily life.

Step 4: Coordinating With VA Rating

Your VA disability rating can serve as a significant piece of evidence for your SSD application. A high rating from the VA, particularly a 70% rating or higher, can mean a lot to the SSA. However, it’s vital to remember that a 100% VA rating doesn’t automatically mean you get SSD benefits. Each system assesses disability differently – VA assigns a degree of disability, while SSA views the disability based on if they can perform a similar type of work as they did prior to their disability. 

Step 5: Knowing Your Right to Appeal

Even the best strategy can encounter setbacks, and denials are part of the SSD application process. Remember, you have the right to appeal if your SSD application is rejected. This could involve asking for reconsideration, a hearing before a judge, a review by an Appeals Council, and even a review in Federal Court.

.Embarking on the journey to secure Social Security Disability benefits as a veteran means you’re standing at the crossroads of military service and civilian disability requirements. While it may feel overwhelming, take heart: this path has been tread before, and with a little guidance, you can navigate this process and secure the benefits you’re entitled to.

Social Security Disability Benefits for Cancer Patients: What You Need to Know

Posted May 19, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Navigating through a cancer diagnosis is undoubtedly challenging, and we understand the complex emotions it can stir up. It’s a time filled with many uncertainties, but amidst these, there are support systems in place to help ease the burden. One of these supports is the Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits program, which can provide crucial financial help during this difficult time. If you or a loved one is going through this process, here’s what you need to know.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes the severity of cancer and thus includes it as a qualifying condition for its disability program. Depending on the specific characteristics of your cancer – like its type, stage, and the way it affects your day-to-day life – you could be eligible for SSD benefits. Notably, certain aggressive or late-stage cancers may qualify immediately under SSA’s Compassionate Allowances program, which expedites processing for particularly serious conditions.

Eligibility for SSD benefits isn’t just about the severity of your cancer, though. It also considers the impact your condition has on your ability to work. For example, has your capacity to perform your job been affected? Have your mobility, stamina, or concentration been compromised due to your cancer or its treatment? These are some of the factors that the SSA will evaluate.

The SSA will also take into account your work history. In general, to be eligible for SSD benefits, you need to have worked for a certain number of years and contributed to the Social Security system through your payroll taxes. The specifics can vary and depend on factors such as your age. 

If you’re facing a cancer diagnosis and are contemplating applying for SSD benefits, the first step is to gather all relevant medical documentation. This information will be critical in demonstrating how your cancer impacts your ability to work. Be sure to include medical test results, records of treatments, and any statements from your healthcare providers outlining your symptoms and functional limitations.

While the SSD benefits application process can seem daunting, especially when dealing with a cancer diagnosis, remember that there are resources available to support you. Friends, family, and community organizations can provide valuable help with managing paperwork, understanding your rights, and guiding you through the process. Additionally, the SSA’s own website and other online resources offer detailed guidance and tips for applying for SSD benefits. You’re not alone in this journey, and there are many forms of help available. Stay strong and remember, every step forward counts!

For additional information on this topic, you can also visit this article on the website.  

Applying for Disability After Age 55

Posted May 12, 2023 by Premier Disability Services, LLC®

Getting disability benefits when you’re older than 55 can be easier than when you’re younger, thanks to a special set of rules called the medical-vocational grid. The grid rules are aimed at people closer to retirement age who can’t do their past work. The rules let the Social Security Administration (SSA) consider factors that can make it difficult for these people to switch jobs— factors like whether they have any skills that transfer to other work.

While most people younger than 50 need to show that they can’t perform the easiest sit-down jobs before the SSA can find them disabled, people over the age of 50 might get disability even if they can do a sit-down job. And if you’re 55 or older and can do a half-standing, half-sitting job, you could still qualify for disability benefits.

What Are the Social Security Disability Rules After Age 55?

Social Security categorizes disability applicants between the ages of 55 and 59 as “advanced age.” Within this category, Social Security’s grid rules are divided into tables based on exertional levels. Exertional levels describe the most weight you can carry and the longest you can be on your feet during a work day.

Your exertional level is an important part of your residual functional capacity (RFC). Here are some of the exertional levels that Social Security uses:

  • Sedentary work requires you to lift up to 10 pounds and stand or walk for 2 hours total.
  • Light work requires you to lift up to 20 pounds and stand or walk for 6 hours total.
  • Medium work requires you to lift up to 50 pounds and stand or walk for 6 hours total.
  • Heavy work requires you to lift up to 100 pounds and stand or walk for 6 hours total.

You won’t be able to get disability under the grid rules if you can physically perform heavy work, and if you can perform medium work, you can only qualify if you have a limited education and have never worked before.

But if you can do only light or sedentary work, the SSA will use the grid rules to see if the rules “direct a finding of disability” based on additional factors, such as your level of education.

Using the Grid Rules Over 55

Below are the grid rules for people between the ages of 55 and 59 who have an RFC for sedentary work. Find the rows that best describe your education level and previous work experience. The third column shows the decision the SSA will make based on those two factors.


EducationPrevious Work ExperienceDecision
11th grade education or lowerUnskilled work or no past relevant workDisabled
11th grade education or lowerSkilled or semiskilled work without transferable skillsDisabled
11th grade education or lowerSkilled or semi-skilled work with transferable skillsNot disabled
High school graduate or higherUnskilled work or no past relevant workDisabled
High school graduate or higherSkilled or semiskilled work without transferable skillsDisabled
High school graduate or higherSkilled or semi-skilled work with transferable skillsNot disabled
Recent education or training for skilled workUnskilled work or no past relevant workNot disabled
Recent education or training for skilled workSkilled or semi-skilled work with or without transferable skillsNot disabled

Examples of Using the 55-59 Grid Rules

Here are some examples of when a person in the advanced age category can be approved based on the grids.

  • Selma is a 57-year-old woman who applied for disability based on her diabetes, which made it hard for her to stand for longer than one hour during the workday. She had a high school education but hadn’t worked for 25 years. The SSA determined that Selma had the RFC to perform sedentary work only. The grids directed a finding of disabled and Selma’s application for benefits was approved.
  • Lars is a 56-year-old man who applied for disability because of moderate emphysema. He had a 10th-grade education and had worked his whole life as a commercial fisherman. The SSA found that Lars shouldn’t lift more than 20 pounds due to his emphysema and gave him an RFC for light work. Because Lars didn’t have any transferable skills from his job as a fisherman, he was approved under the grids.

Here are some examples of when a person over 55 would be found not disabled:

  • Owen is a 55-year-old man who filed for disability due to arthritis in both knees. He had a college education, and his past work was as a hotel manager. The SSA determined that Owen had an RFC for sedentary work, but that he had transferable skills including the ability to manage groups and interact with customers. Given these factors, the grids directed a finding of not disabled.
  • Tina is a 58-year-old woman who filed for disability based on hepatitis C. Tina had a GED and some college credits. The SSA determined that Tina’s hepatitis C symptoms limited her to medium work. Because of her education level and medium RFC, Tina was denied under the grids.

What If the Grid Rules Say “Not Disabled”

Even if the grid rules don’t direct a finding of disabled, you can still get benefits if you can show your limitations actually prevent you from doing the kind of work the SSA says you can do. Because the grid rules only address exertional levels, you can qualify for benefits if you have a combination of exertional and non-exertional limitations that prevent you from working. Mental limitations are one type of non-exertional limitations that can keep you from using the transferable skills you might have learned.

Another common way to win is to prove you can’t even do a sit-down job. For instance, if you have carpal tunnel syndrome but the SSA denied you benefits because you had a sedentary RFC, a college education, and transferable job skills, you could appeal and show that your inability to use your hands and fingers doesn’t allow you to do any sedentary jobs.

Contact an Attorney for Help If You’re Older Than 55

Many claimants who are 55 or older have better odds of winning their disability case using the grids. But the nuances of applying the grids can be tricky, especially for highly skilled applicants or people with complicated RFCs. You might want to consider contacting an experienced disability attorney to help you navigate the grid rules and handle communication with Social Security.