Filing for Disability Online, Work Credits, and late appeals
"I filed for disability online (only got through the first part) and was sent a letter saying I don't qualify based on not enough work credits. I have a condition where I can no longer work, drive, walk for long periods of time, stand for more than 15 mins at a time, etc. What do I file for then? I'm 30 yrs old and unable to work or leave the house alone. I'm at a loss. I did get a hold of a disability lawyer but when I see him, the rejection letter will be at day 57."
Your situation is a good example of why I am not in favor of filing for disability online. A large percentage of individuals who apply for disability will have an SSDI (Social Security Disability insurance) claim. However, many will find that their claim is for title 16 SSI disability benefits only, or is concurrent, meaning that a claim is taken in both the SSDI and SSI categories. Here's the problem with that: the Social Security Administration does not allow an actual SSI disability application to be filed online. Meaning you don't get a protected filing date.
If you begin the process online and it turns out that your claim will be for SSI only, or will be a concurrent claim, you will have to speak with a CR, or claims representative at a Social Security office...which basically defeats much of the reasoning for trying to use the online process in the first place. My position is that it is usually best to speak with a claims representative at a social security office, either in person or over the phone from the very start.
As to work credits, SSDI, or Social Security Disability, is based on insured status. Meaning that if you haven't worked long enough to be insured, or your insured status has lapsed (i.e. you have a DLI, or date last insured, that is in the past) because you haven't work enough recently, then you will only be apply to apply for SSI. However, you can only apply for SSI if you meet the non-medical requirements for SSI. SSI is need based. Because it is, not just your income but your family income (meaning yours and income from a spouse) can be used to determine if you are above the allowable limits. Additionally, unlike SSDI which is not concerned in the least with assets, SSI has an asset limit, or resource limit.
If you are not insured for SSDI because of insufficient work credits, a claim will be taken in the SSI program. From what you've said, I am assuming that one was not taken and so I have to wonder if an evaluation of your income and/or assets puts you over the SSI limits.
If you will be at day 57 by the time you see a disability lawyer, you would ordinarily want to consider sending in your disability appeal on your own to avoid missing the filing deadline. This is what I have usually told people over the phone when they were seeking disability representation but were butting up against the deadline. However, it sounds as though you have received a technical denial, one that does not involve any type of case processing. Technical denials occur when a person does not qualify for disability based on non-medical criteria alone, such as assets or earned income. It sounds as though the best approach will be to confer with the lawyer to get a better handle on your situation. Good luck with your case.
About the Author: Tim Moore is a former Social Security Disability Examiner in North Carolina, has been interviewed by the NY Times and the LA Times on the disability system, and is an Accredited Disability Representative (ADR) in North Carolina. For assistance on a disability application or Appeal in NC, click here.
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