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SSDI Benefits and Marijuana: How Smoking Can Affect Your Claim

SSDI Benefits and Marijuana: How Smoking Can Affect Your Claim

Social Security Disability and Smoking
Have questions about social security disability and smoking? Call SSDA USA today!

Marijuana is still a tricky subject when it comes to talking about whether it’s legal. According to federal law, marijuana is still schedule one. However, many states are increasingly changing their laws to allow for the medical and recreational uses of marijuana. As of January 4, 2019, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states. Also, recreational use of marijuana is legal in 10 states. The majority of Americans support the legalization of marijuana, which means that more states are likely to follow suit. However, you should be very careful about marijuana use if you are applying for Social Security benefits. If you are applying for Social Security disability and smoking at the same time, you may end up getting rejected – even if your marijuana use is legal in your state.

Applying for Social Security Disability and Smoking

Marijuana is a complicated drug to address because it has many different effects on a person’s physical well-being, cognitive functioning, and emotional coping abilities. For example, marijuana can be incredibly beneficial to people that suffer from Parkinson’s Disease, chronic seizures, anxiety, and other afflictions. Numerous studies have shown that marijuana can effectively treat some of the side effects of cancer chemotherapy such as nausea and vomiting.

However, if you smoke marijuana, the Social Security Administration will look at many variables to determine whether you qualify for Social Security disability.

  • First, if the use of marijuana in your state isn’t legal, rejection is more than likely. This is true even if your marijuana use is for medical purposes. This is because you may have a hard time finding a doctor that will – in writing – state you are using it solely for medical reasons.
  • Second, the Social Security Administration will look at the disability you are claiming and how your use of marijuana may have affected its progression. The SSA will be especially suspicious if you are using marijuana recreationally and not medically, regardless of marijuana’s legality. For example, the use of marijuana results in changes to your motor/coordination skills that could affect your job performance. If you suffered an injury on the job while under the influence of marijuana, the SSA may see this as a cause and effect relationship.
  • Additionally, if your claim focuses on a psychiatric problem such as anxiety or depression, then the use of marijuana could end up hurting your claim. This is because many medical experts and psychiatric providers would testify at disability hearings that drug use, including marijuana use, can make psychiatric symptoms worse and even hasten the onset of certain psychological conditions.

Seeking Assistance Before Applying for Benefits

If you use marijuana for medical reasons, you must prove that it’s used to treat your condition’s symptoms. If the SSA thinks marijuana exacerbates your symptoms, you may not qualify for benefits.

However, even if you are able to do this, you should speak to an attorney. Preferably, you should speak to one that’s familiar with social security. Our advocates from Social Security Disability Advocates USA are a perfect choice.

Even if marijuana is legal in your state for medical (or recreational) purposes, the federal rules are trickier. A lawyer will be able to help present your case in the strongest possible light so that rejection on this basis is less likely.

Marijuana use, regardless of purpose and legality, can have an impact on your ability to qualify for social security benefits. If you’re applying for social security disability and smoking, you should contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA for professional guidance.

Call us at (602) 952-3200 to schedule a free consultation. We are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Don’t keep your questions to yourself. Contact an advocate today!

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute a representative-client relationship.

Do My Social Security Benefits Change While I am in the Hospital?

Do My Social Security Benefits Change While I am in the Hospital?

social security benefits during hospitalization
Have more questions on social security benefits during hospitalization? Contact SSDA USA!

As if the Social Security Administration (SSA) couldn’t be confusing enough, there are specific circumstances under which your social security benefits could change without you even knowing. Hospitalization is one such circumstance. Are you still eligible for social security benefits during hospitalization? Let us from Social Security Disability Advocates USA break it down for you.

SSDI

Generally speaking, SSDI hospital stay does not affect SSDI benefits. People receiving SSDI can continue receiving their benefits while living in a public facility such as a hospital or psychiatric facility unless they are there as a result of committing or being an instrument of a crime. For example, being in a jail or prison may result in the suspension of SSDI benefits.

SSI

Supplemental Security Income is the trickier one. There are a few more rules and often stricter circumstances required to receive benefits while in the hospital. Let’s lay them out:

  • If you live in a public facility e.g. a psychiatric facility or nursing home where Medicaid or private health insurance, alone or in combination, does not pay for more than half the cost of your care, you are ineligible for SSI. This is generally true regardless of age.
  • If you live in a public facility where Medicaid or private health insurance, alone or in combination, pays for more than half the cost of your care, your SSI will not exceed $30 a month plus any supplementary state payments. The SSA may reduce the SSI benefit based on any income you have. This is generally true regardless of age.

Special exceptions can occur, however. For example:

  • If you will be in the hospital for 90 days or less, you can continue receiving your regular SSI benefits for up to 3 full months. However, you must give certain information:
    • A doctor must state, in writing, that you will be in the medical facility for 90 days or less, and
    • Someone that knows about your situation must state that you require your regular SSI payments for home and living arrangements while you are in the medical facility.

You should give this information to the Social Security Administration as soon as possible and no later than the 90th day of your hospital stay. Medical information is often time sensitive, so please be prudent and give the Social Security Administration the required information as soon as you can to make sure you still receive your social security benefits during hospitalization.

Have More Questions About Social Security Benefits During Hospitalization?

If you have further questions about social security, contact SSDA USA right away! Our advocates are waiting on the line to address all your social security questions and concerns. Give us a ring anytime at (602) 952-3200, or feel free to contact us online. And don’t forget our LiveChat feature!

Don’t keep your questions to yourself. Contact an advocate today!

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

What Types of Anxiety Qualify for SSDI?

What Types of Anxiety Qualify for SSDI?

SSDI and Anxiety
Have questions about SSDI and anxiety? Contact SSDA USA today!

Suffering from an anxiety disorder can be just as debilitating as suffering from a physical disability. The Social Security Administration has provided guidelines for people with anxiety disorders because of these levels of debilitation. So, what types of anxiety qualify, and what are the requirements? Not to worry – our team from SSDA USA is here to explain the link between SSDI and anxiety.

What Is an Anxiety Disorder?

While a bit of nervousness and worry is normal in ordinary life, excessive terror and panic is prevalent in people with anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders differ from the normal stresses of everyday life.

Normally, people with anxiety disorders experience continuous terror, panic, or otherwise alertness with no clear indicator for such responses. Anxiety disorders can cause considerable disruption in people’s lives. Agoraphobia, for example, prevents an individual from leaving their home for fear of their safety.

Examples of Possible Anxiety Disorders SSDI Covers

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This disorder is perhaps the broadest of all anxiety disorders. It involves constant fear or worry about the future. The worry could be about minor things such as doctor’s appointments, or it could be about abstract concepts such as the long-term future. Physical symptoms may include tremors, excessive alertness, and persistent terror.

Phobias

Phobias involve the unceasing and irrational fear of a specific object or concept that is not generally thought of as being harmful. As such, phobias can cause such discomfort that people often take extreme measure to avoid the thing their afraid of. A common debilitating phobia is agoraphobia, the fear of leaving one’s home.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Previously called Social Phobia, Social Anxiety Disorder involves extreme anxiousness in social situations. For example, people with the disorder may have an extreme fear of public speaking, or perhaps they endure social interactions with great difficulty. Social Anxiety Disorder can cause severe disruptions in one’s personal, work, and romantic relationships.

What Qualifies My Anxiety for Benefits?

The above are just a few examples of common anxiety disorders. The reality, however, is that no matter what, you must meet Social Security’s requirements in order to qualify for SSDI because of an anxiety disorder. Here are the requirements:

You must meet the requirements of paragraphs A and B or of paragraphs A and C to qualify for SSDI because of an anxiety disorder.

A. Medical documents for a, b, or c:

     a. An anxiety disorder that is characterized by three or more of the following:

  1. Restlessness/Hyperactivity,
  2. Easily tired,
  3. Difficulty focusing,
  4. Excessive irritability,
  5. Tension of muscles, or
  6. Disturbance of sleep.

     b. A panic disorder or agoraphobia that is characterized by one or both of the following:

  1. Panic attacks followed by a continuous concern or worry about future panic attacks or their consequences, or
  2. Disproportionate fear or anxiety about at least two different situations (for example: public speaking, being in a crowd, being in a line, being outside of your home, eating in public).

     c. An obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) that is characterized by one or both of the following:

  1. Involuntary and time-consuming preoccupation with intrusive, undesired thoughts, or
  2. Repetitive and possibly irrational behaviors or rituals aimed at reducing anxiety.

B. An extreme limitation of one or a marked limitation of two of the following areas of mental functioning:

  1. Understanding, remembering, or applying information.
  2. Interacting with others.
  3. Concentrating, persisting or maintaining pace/flow.
  4. Adapting or managing oneself.

C. Your mental disorder in this listing category is “serious and persistent”; that is, you have a medically documented history of the existence of the disorder over a period of no less than two years, and there is empirical evidence of both of the following:

  1. Medical treatment, mental health therapy, psychosocial support(s), or a highly structured setting(s) that is ongoing and that decreases or otherwise lessens the symptoms and signs of your mental disorder, and
  2. Marginal adjustment (that is, you have minimal to no capacity to adapt to changes in your environment or to demands/requests that are not already part of your daily life) is present.

Steps to Take

The first step you should take before applying for SSDI is to consult an expert like those at Social Security Disability Advocates. Next, get the appropriate diagnosis. Without this, qualifying for SSDI becomes nearly impossible.

The next step is to present medical documentation along with your SSDI application. Remember, while a diagnosis from a doctor doesn’t alone prove disability (according to the SSA), it certainly helps a lot. Because of this, include all your medical records along with the names of doctors who have treated you, phone numbers, and addresses of medical facilities you’ve visited.

If your disability application gets denied, that’s OK. You can always try again. Consult an advocate from SSDA USA. We’ll make sure you have everything you need to qualify for SSDI.

Have Further Questions About SSDI and Anxiety?

If you have further questions about SSDI and anxiety, contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA right away! Our advocates are always on the line to help you with all your social security concerns.

Call us 24/7 at (602) 952-3200. Additionally, you can contact us online and check out our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your questions bottled up. Call one of our advocates today!

 

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.

 

What Are the SSDI Approval Levels?

What Are the SSDI Approval Levels?

SSDI approval levels
Have questions about SSDI approval levels? Contact SSDA USA today!

So, you suffer from a disability and want to apply for benefits. You’re on the right track – but what exactly is the approval rate for social security benefits? What are the SSDI approval levels, and how can you make sure you’re taking the correct steps? Our advocates from SSDA USA are here to help.

The Approval Process

SSDI approval levels depend on a few variables, one of which is the stage at which the application is pending. For the initial application stage, a decision regarding SSDI benefits is determined by Disability Determination Services (DDS) offices in your state. About one-third (33%) of people see approval for SSDI at the initial application stage.

However, there are still steps you can take if you are unsatisfied with the decision. Of those that apply for a reconsideration appeal – known as a “request for reconsideration” – approximately 11% see approval. This may be due to a few factors. One critical factor is that the appeal goes to the same DDS office but to a different examiner. If the new examiner determines there were no errors, you will likely be denied.

If you dislike the decision still, you can always apply for a hearing with an administrative law judge. The approval rate at this stage in the process skyrockets to approximately 58%, the highest approval rate of any stage in the application process. This is especially good considering the fact that about 18% of hearing reviews are dismissed for reasons other than denial. Really, the denial rate at the hearing stage of the process is approximately 24%.

Differences in Conditions

The severity of your condition can affect your approval rate, as well. First, you must make sure you meet Social Security’s definition of disabled. After this, consider the seriousness of your condition. More serious conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, cancer, respiratory disorders, and osteoarthritis, will see a higher approval rate than less serious conditions, such as mood disorders.

Don’t let this deter you from applying, though. Always keep trying. In fact, the SSDI approval levels for many conditions goes up dramatically after a hearing. So persevere and know that your chances of approval only go up with time.

Variations by State

Many people don’t realize that it’s the DDS offices in their state that make the decisions on their applications, not the Social Security Administration itself. Depending on where you live, you may have a higher or lower chance for approval.

While the national average approval rate at the hearing level is 58%, Hawaii has a 78% approval rate, and Alaska has an approximate 18% approval rate. While the same social security rules are in place for every DDS office, at the end of the day, individuals are the ones who interpret and apply the rules. Looser interpretations result in more approvals, whereas stricter interpretations yield fewer approvals.

Have Questions About SSDI Approval Levels?

If you have further questions about your social security benefits, contact SSDA USA right away! Our advocates are eager to address all your social security concerns. Call us anytime at (602) 952-3200. Alternatively, you can contact us online and check out our LiveChat feature. Don’t keep your social security concerns to yourself. Contact Social Security Disability Advocates USA today!

 

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, a representative-client relationship.