Basics of Social Security Disability
Many people use the term “disability“ in broad strokes. Some people are referring to private long-term disability benefits secured through private, non-government insurance companies. These benefits are the result of years of either an individual or a company on behalf of an individual, paying into long-term disability policies which would offer protection if or when someone becomes disabled. Disability obtained through the Social Security Administration is based upon either your earnings record over the years – in other words, how much you have worked and paid into social security over the years; or, Supplemental Social Security benefits which are based upon need.
Social Security Disability benefits are determined using a Five-step Sequential Evaluation. The first step of the evaluation of disability in general is to answer the question – is the individual engaged in substantially gainful activity? If the answer is “no” to this question, then the individual proceeds to the next step of the sequential evaluation under the Social Security Administration Guidelines. The natural questions many potential clients in the greater Knoxville area ask is what exactly is substantially gainful activity. The answer is not as cut and dry as one might think, however one easily determinable criteria is whether or not a potential client is earning over the amount established by the Social Security Act. In 2019, the monthly amount for non-blind applicants is $1220 per month. In other words if you are working and earning greater than $1220 per month then you would be found not disabled. While the amount of earnings that constitute SGA are found within the Social Security Act, there are also a number of caveats that make the Step 1 analysis more complicated that one might think. When a potential client calls our firm with inquires about how to obtain disability benefits, I encourage him/her to come in for a free consultation so that we can sit down and review a potential client’s income (if they are still working).
We have social security disability offices in Sevierville, Tennessee as well as in Maryville, Tennessee, and we also serve clients in Western North Carolina and Southeastern Kentucky. To meet with an attorney in person, please call our main East Tennessee office at 865-233-1105 where an attorney will review your case with you and offer an honest evaluation.