Big Arroyo Creek and Eagle Scout Peak Sequoia National Park, California

Who is eligible to receive veterans’ survivor benefits?

Our brave military men and women put their own lives on the line to protect our country. Entering the military comes with risks in all branches. Since our founding as a country, the United States has fought in at least 11 official wars and many other domestic and international military conflicts. Over 7,000 U.S. troops were killed, and thousands more injured, over the last decade. Losing your loved one to military service is devastating, and for many families, it also means financial struggle. To assist the family members of fallen or disabled soldiers, the Social Security Administration and the Veteran’s Association offers both veteran and survivor benefits.

Social Security Survivor Benefits

Q: How do I know if my representative payee is honest?

California disability benefits attorneys are devoted to helping society’s most vulnerable citizens determine which of the two available federal disability benefits programs they may be qualified for and then handling the application and/or appeals process necessary to secure those benefits.

The two federal disability benefits programs offered through the Social Security Administration(“SSA”) both require that applicants meet the federal government definition of being “disabled”. In general, Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) apply to disabled people who have previously worked for a requisite number of years and paid into Social Security through their payroll deductions. The other program, Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) is available to disabled people in an exceptionally low-income situation. Sometimes people may qualify for both programs.

While the road to being awarded disability benefits can be long and difficult, especially without assistance from a skilled disability benefits attorney, the difficulties don’t always end when the award is granted.

What assets count towards SSI eligibility?

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a federal program that assists people with disabilities in paying for basic necessities like food and shelter. SSI and SSDI are often lumped together, but the two programs have some major differences. SSI is not limited to those who have a certain number of work credits, unlike SSDI.  The program is open to individuals with a disability who have limited assets and income. Our SSI eligibility lawyers explore the eligibility requirements for SSI and what assets will count towards your asset limit below.

SSI Eligibility

To receive SSI benefits, you must demonstrate that you are disabled and have limited financial resources. Various medical conditions may allow you to qualify to receive SSI benefits. Check the Social Security Administration’s Listing of Impairments to determine if your condition may qualify. You will need to include strong medical evidence of your disability, which must prove your inability to earn a living.

Once you have substantiated your disability, you must meet the income and asset limits. To be eligible for SSI benefits, you must have no more than $2,000 in assets or $3,000 per couple. However, not all assets will count towards this limit. Assets excluded from consideration include:

Can my child with autism receive SSI benefits?

It is estimated that one in every 68 children today are on the autism spectrum, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention findings. Autism is a multi-system developmental disorder that can affect a child’s ability to communicate and interact with the world around him or her. Autism varies significantly in severity. Children with severe autism may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to assist in daily living expenses.

Qualifying for SSI Benefits Due to Autism

The Social Security Administration includes “Autism spectrum disorder” among its listings of impairments. The definition of autism disorders was updated in 2017. To be eligible to receive benefits, you must provide documentation to support that your child with autism suffers from:

  • Verbal and nonverbal communication deficits

What standards does the SSA use to determine whether I am disabled?

For the millions of disabled individuals across the United States, Social Security Disability (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) provide much needed financial assistance.  Qualifying to receive disability benefits can be challenging and many applicants are denied the first time they apply. To receive SSD or SSI benefits, you will need to prove that you are disabled per the Social Security Administration’s definition. Our Fresno, California Social Security Disability Insurance lawyer discusses the SSA’s definition of disabled below.

The Listing of Impairments

The easiest way to meet the SSA’s definition of disabled is to satisfy a condition set out in the Listing of Impairments.  This SSA manual includes dozens of medical conditions that range from cancer and heart failure to asthma and bipolar disorder.  Your condition will need to be severe to meet the criteria set out in the Listing of Impairments.

Substantial Gainful Activity

Alternatively, you can prove you are disabled by demonstrating that your physical or mental limitations prevent you from being able to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA).  Substantial gainful activity is defined as making over $1,180 per month before taxes as of 2018. In evaluating whether you can perform SGA, the SSA will look at your work history in the past few years.  The Administration will take into account your age, level of education, limitations, and work skills. It is not enough to show that you cannot continue working in your current job; rather, all potential jobs will be considered.

Q: Are SSDI recipients really disabled or just lazy?

Some critics of the current Social Security disability benefits system are asking: Is the Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits (“SSDI”) program a safety net or a hammock?

As Fresno and Madera SSDI attorneys committed to helping the disabled get the benefits they deserve, the long-standing myth that people receiving SSDI benefits are just lazy and don’t want to work is offensive. So, with a caveat that recognizes there will always be some who are in fact milking the system, let’s examine the disability benefits process and dispel the myth.

Applying for SSDI disability benefits is a long and difficult process. Two-thirds of initial disability benefits applications are denied. As far as the appeals process goes, the backlog for hearings on appeal is averaging more than two years. Yes, two years. Imagine becoming disabled, being unable to work and provide for your family, and having to wait possibly for years for that first disability check–if it comes at all. People are literally wiping out their life savings, losing their homes, and even dying while waiting for an appeals hearing for disability benefits.

Q: Are veterans covered for deployment-related burn pit exposure injuries?

California veteran’s disability and benefits attorneys followed with interest a landmark court ruling that changes the way victims of burn pit-related medical problems may be compensated for their deployment-related injuries and treatment costs.

At military bases throughout Iraq and Afghanistan, open-air burn pits release thick black smoke filled with “thousands of chemicals” into the air – – by-products of incinerated trash that included plastics and other waste.

Can wildfires cause or worsen disabilities that qualify for SSDI?

California Social Security disability insurance attorneys don’t only worry about how repeated widespread California wildfires will impact their own health and safety, but they also worry about their current and future clients’ health.

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”), applicants must have worked for a requisite number of years and hours, and must have paid into the Social Security tax system during those years. In addition, they must satisfy the government’s definition of being “disabled”. Specifically, they must suffer from a physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last 12 months or more or result in death and must be unable of performing any “substantial gainful activity”.

There is an extensive list of physical and mental impairments that the Social Security Administration recognizes as qualifying medical conditions. Among that list are lung- related conditions such as cancer (including mesothelioma), COPD, emphysema, and asthma.

Q: What is the penalty for misappropriating someone else’s Social Security benefits?

Many Americans have a “love-hate “relationship with the government. Sure, we enjoy the many rights, benefits and freedoms our government offers, but trying to access some of those benefits can be a nightmare—especially for the more vulnerable members of society like disabled folks.

Applying for Social Security disability benefits (“SSDI”) or Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”), which are two different federal government programs that help the disabled, can be time-consuming and frustrating.

A Social Security disability benefits attorney can help streamline the initial application process and increase the likelihood of it being granted the first time around or on appeal. With nearly two-thirds of all initial applications being denied, and the appeals process hearing backlog now approaching delays of almost 2 years, can you afford to be without disability benefits that long?

Q: Can an honorably discharged veteran shop at discount military exchanges?

Veteran’s disability attorneys are in the business of helping our nation’s veterans access the benefits they’re entitled to for their sacrifice and service.

Often, while helping disabled vets apply for benefits or appeal a denial of veteran’s benefits, it becomes evident that many vets are unaware of the many benefits that are available to them and their families. Some important veteran’s benefits for eligible beneficiaries include: 

  • burial and memorial
  • death pension
  • dependency and indemnity compensation
  • disability compensation
  • employment and training
  • parent’s dependency and indemnity compensation
  • special monthly compensation
  • survivor benefits
  • veteran’s healthcare
  • veteran’s life insurance. 

Many of the above benefits have a complicated application and appeals process and interested applicants would be wise to contact an attorney who specializes in veteran’s benefits for assistance qualifying for these benefits. 

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