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Austin Social Security Disability Law Blog

What are Social Security Disability earnings requirements?

Few things in life are as complex and confusing as government regulations. It’s not that regulators are out to make everyone miserable with double-talk, minutia and overlapping, contradictory rules, requirements and laws, but it can sometimes seem that way.

As people in Austin who have filed for Social Security Disability benefits know, the process and paperwork are complicated. One of the questions claimants typically hope to find answers to early in the application process: What are Social Security Disability earnings requirements? 

Coping with mental illness

Mental illness is an issue typically ignored by the news media, unless and until there’s a murder or suicide involved. Think of how much coverage the death of Robin Williams received and how little of it was devoted to issues surrounding depression. Think again about the murders of children in Sandy Hook, Connecticut, two years ago, and the intense coverage that horrific event received. Mental illness was certainly in the news, but much of the focus was on how to prevent mentally ill people from possessing firearms.

Those are just two examples of how coverage of mental illness is mishandled by a media always eager for splashy headlines and grisly details, and always reluctant to give more than a cursory glance at mental illness symptoms and struggles affecting millions of ordinary Americans every day. 

Righting media wrongs on SSDI

The job of the news media is to give the public unbiased information about current events. Unfortunately, what we are too often given instead are slanted opinion pieces designed to serve a political agenda of one kind or another.

We have seen the Social Security Disability program repeatedly tainted in recent years by misleading, inaccurate mischaracterizations in media outlets in Austin and elsewhere. Over and over, the program has been misrepresented, though in reality its aim and accomplishments are praiseworthy: providing modest, earned benefits to American workers who have had their careers cut short by disability. 

When SSDI and retirement intersect

Despite what some pessimistic politicians and pundits have said over the years, Social Security remains one of the most dependable, efficient parts of our nation’s social fabric. It not only helps people retire with dignity, but also extends a helping hand to those with disabilities.

Sometimes those two constituencies come together in one person. What we mean is that sometimes a person with a disability preventing them from working is at the same time a person approaching their retirement years. When a person on SSDI draws nearer retirement age, which can be as low as 62, they have important decisions to make.

Robin Williams' death puts Parkinson's in spotlight

The death of Robin Williams united us all in shock and sadness with everyone wondering why he would take his own life. Then came the news from his wife: he had been battling depression and was in the early stages of Parkinson's Disease.

As those who live Parkinson's know, the disease can be frightening. We don't yet know of its cause or cure. The degenerative disease attacks the central nervous system.

SSDI funding fix proposed

The Secretary of the Treasury is a very important part of any president’s cabinet. The secretary helps make economic policy, assists with law enforcement, the making of money and is the managing trustee of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds, as noted on the Treasury Department’s website.

So when current Treasury Secretary Jack Lew says it’s time to fix the funding shortfall looming over SSDI, there are good reasons to listen. Lew says it’s not only time to do something, but that he has a specific fix in mind; a solution many believe makes good sense.

SSDI: earned, modest benefits on which millions depend

As the U.S. gets closer each day to mid-term elections this fall, political rancor increases in intensity. As we know full well in Austin, immigration and foreign policy issues command today's attention of media and politicians alike. But one day soon, the focus will swing back to Social Security Disability benefits. Because the program will require in the next couple of years an upward adjustment in revenue, debate is likely to be heated.

While there's calm before that coming storm, we would take a brief look at two key, though sometimes overlooked, points about the program: benefits are modest and they are earned.

Step by step: determining disability status

Like many government agencies, the Social Security Administration takes a methodical approach. In order to determine if a person is disabled and therefore eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, it goes through a five-step process that begins with determining if you are presently employed and ends with determining if you are physically and mentally capable of doing work other than the type you did before applying for SSDI.

For Austin residents contemplating applying for disability benefits, the first question the SSA is going to ask is “Are you working?” If the answer is yes, and you’re earning more $1,070 per month, the agency is not going to consider you disabled. 

Consumed by pain

A year and a half ago, her time and energy were focused on family (she has six children), her writing about health research and her hobby: boxing. Today, the 51-year-old often spends her time focused on the chronic pain that can take over her life. On bad days, she cannot even eat or speak.

She’s fortunate that she has an accommodating employer that allows her to work from home several days a week; days she says that allow her to deal with the pain and “hibernate and suck on ice chips.”

U.S. Senator says it's time to secure SSDI funding for the future

As every Austin fan of University of Texas football knows, a good defense is a critical part of a winning strategy. But we also know that you simply can’t win games today if your offense can’t put points on the board.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown says it’s time for supporters of Social Security Disability Insurance to not only defend the program, but also to go on offense. The Ohio lawmaker says it’s time to expand Social Security benefits and secure SSDI funding for the future.

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