As a thriving metropolis of 100,000, Odessa, Texas, is a prime example of a hard-working American town. Offering good jobs and a low cost of living, Odessa is one of the few places left in the country where a family can still afford to live the American Dream. Odessa’s thriving economy depends on labor-intensive jobs in the oil industry, although wind and nuclear technologies have brought prosperity to the region as well. As a large portion of Odessa’s economy is built on the backs of its citizens, many jobs are unavailable to those with physical disabilities or illnesses.
Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law, recognizes the importance of hard work and providing for a family. That’s why he devotes his law practice to assisting those injured or unwell in applying for Social Security Disability benefits. Representing clients from every background throughout South and West Texas, Attorney Sipes has the experience to assist you in presenting your best case for disability benefits to the Social Security Administration.
Social Security Benefits in Odessa, Texas
Every worker who receives a regular paycheck pays into the federal Social Security system. The Social Security tax is automatically taken out of your paycheck and used to fund the Social Security programs, including disability insurance and retirement. When workers experience a disability or reach retirement age, they may apply for a benefit payment based on their lifetime income.
If you have not reached age 65 but experience a medical condition that qualifies as a disability, you may apply for Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration defines a disability as a medical condition that is likely to persist for one year or more or result in death. You must provide medical evidence to support the conclusion that your condition is a long-term disability.
Types of Social Security Benefits
There are two forms of Social Security Disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Eligibility for either program depends on the number of years an individual has worked and paid Social Security taxes. The SSDI program requires that an individual has worked and paid Social Security taxes for at least 10 years.
The SSDI program does not apply to individuals that have never worked and paid Social Security taxes or have done so but for less than 10 years. Instead, those individuals may apply for the need-based SSI program available to those with disabilities, are elderly, or are blind.
SSDI payments are based on the amount an individual pays into the system; therefore, SSDI payments are generally larger than SSI payments. Another difference between the two programs is healthcare: those approved for SSI are eligible for Medicaid immediately, while those approved for SSDI must wait two years to qualify for Medicare.
Examples of medical conditions that may constitute a disability include, but are not limited to, blindness, paralysis, heart conditions, and back disorders. However, many other conditions may qualify as a disability if they are long-term and prevent you from working.
Strict Requirements to Prove a Disability
To be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, an individual must prove he or she suffers from a severe, long-term medical condition expected to last at least one year or result in death. That medical condition must prevent an individual from performing any substantial gainful activity–or earning regular income above a threshold amount. In 2021, the Social Security Administration recognizes substantial gainful activity as performing work that results in earning more than $1,310 per month.
In addition to proving you are unable to work, you must also show your medical condition is long-term, in that it will not end on its own or will not improve upon following a prescribed treatment plan. In many cases, this requires showing that you have followed all treatment recommendations provided by your doctor, but your condition has not improved.
Applying for Disability Benefits
Applying for Social Security Benefits in Texas requires submitting an application for disability benefits at a local Social Security office, by mail, or online. The application includes personal details, such as your name, age, social security number, and a detailed history of your employment. Because many applications are denied solely for technical reasons, such as failing to include necessary details, it helps to have an experienced disability attorney assist you with the application process.
Appealing Denial of an Application for Benefits
If the Social Security Administration denies your claim for disability benefits, you have the right to file an appeal of the denial. If the reason for denial is fairly apparent and can be easily cured, an applicant may request reconsideration of an application. Otherwise, an applicant should lodge an appeal with a Social Security office located in Texas. The appeal will be heard at a hearing before an administrative law judge, who will ask you questions about your disability. You may be represented by an attorney at this hearing, who can help you present your case to the administrative law judge.
If the administrative law judge also denies your application, you may appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council, who will review what happened at the hearing and issue a decision. If you are still denied benefits, Attorney Sipes can discuss additional appellate options with you.
Consult with an Odessa Social Security Disability Attorney
Living in Odessa is pretty good if you have the means to provide for yourself and your family. However, if you are one of the many hardworking people in Odessa, Texas, who are sidelined by a medical condition, you may be entitled to Social Security Disability benefits based on your condition. Jon Sipes, Attorney at Law, devotes his practice to assisting people with long-term medical conditions apply for and obtain Social Security benefits. If you believe you are entitled to claim benefits, contact Attorney Sipes at his Odessa office today.