In Oregon, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal program that provides financial assistance to people who are unable to work due to an illness or disability. It’s part of the Social Security program and is available to people who have worked and paid into Social Security.
When these people need help, the federal government looks at the severity of their disability and their work history to determine if they are eligible to receive benefits. It’s important to note that SSDI does not cover short-term illness or partial disability because it’s intended for people with long-term, severe impairments that significantly impact their ability to work.
When these benefits are denied, it can leave you feeling ignored, discouraged, and unsure about your financial future. If your SSDI benefits were denied in Oregon, Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law can help. Call our Eugene office today for experienced Social Security assistance when you need it most.
SSDI Laws in Oregon
SSDI is a federal program, but Oregon has its own program for evaluating claims called Disability Determination Services (DDS). Understanding how the DDS operates and what they look for in a claim can help you prepare a successful application that gets approved the first time.
If your application has already been denied, learning about the DDS can also help you prepare a successful appeal. You’ll learn about how appeals are processed and what information was missing in your original application.
It’s important to note that if your claim is denied, submitting a new application will not get you approved. You must appeal your original application and provide the missing information that caused your denial. Let’s look at common reasons for denied disability benefits in Oregon.
Common Reasons Disability Claims are Denied in Oregon
The main reason for the denial of disability claims in Oregon is insufficient medical evidence. Most claims are denied because they lack in-depth medical records, doctors’ notes, or test results that clearly show the disability and its impact on your work. Once denied, these claims can be appealed, and you’ll be given a chance to submit new medical records that support your case.
Another common reason for denial is that your disability is not severe enough to require assistance. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a list of medical conditions that it considers severe enough to require benefits. It’s not enough that you suffer from one of these conditions; you must also prove that it impacts your life so severely that you are unable to work full-time.
Your claim can also be denied for not cooperating with the DDS or SSA. If they try to reach you for additional information but can’t, they’ll deny your claim based on inactivity. If you don’t follow your doctor’s orders for treatments or therapy, they might deny you based on the argument that you are not trying to get better.
Finally, if you earn more than a certain financial limit, you’ll be denied for making too much money in spite of your disability. The SSA calls this the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) limit. The monthly SGA amount for non-blind individuals in 2024 is $1550. If you can make more money than this every month, your claim will be denied.
The Significance of Work History and Earnings
Your work history is what will determine your eligibility for SSDI benefits. To qualify, you must have earned a certain number of work credits. These credits are based on your total yearly wages and income. The number of credits needed to qualify depends on the age you are when you become disabled.
Generally, 40 credits are required to receive SSDI benefits, 20 of which must have been earned in the last 10 years. However, younger workers might qualify with fewer credits. You can earn up to 4 credits each year, and the amount needed for a work credit changes from year to year. In 2024, you earn 1 credit for each $1,730 in wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $6,920 you’ve earned your 4 credits for the year.
This system ensures that SSDI benefits are available to individuals who have contributed to the Social Security system through their work history. If someone becomes disabled before meeting these criteria, they might not be eligible for SSDI but could be eligible for other programs like Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Understanding Residual Functional Capacity (RFC)
RFC is an important factor in the evaluation of SSDI applications. It’s an assessment of what you can still do despite your physical or mental disability. In Oregon, the DDS looks at your ability to perform basic work functions like sitting, standing, lifting, and remembering instructions. An RFC assessment helps the DDS determine if you’re capable of adjusting to other work. If your disability only affects you in your current line of work, your ability to do other work at the SGA level could result in a denial of SSDI benefits.
The Appeals Process
If your claim is denied in Oregon, the first step is to request a reconsideration. This involves a complete review of your claim by a different examiner and medical consultant. If reconsideration is unsuccessful, the next step is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. This hearing is your opportunity to present new evidence, clarify information, and explain your case in more detail.
If the hearing doesn’t lead to a favorable decision, you can request a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. If the council denies your request or you disagree with its decision, the final step is to file a lawsuit in federal district court.
Call Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law
Drew L. Johnson, P.C. Attorneys At Law, we are dedicated to guiding Oregonians through the SSDI claims process. If you’re in Oregon and facing challenges with your SSDI claim or appeal, we’re here to help. Contact us at (541) 434-6466 to discuss your case. Let our experienced team help you navigate the SSDI system with confidence and ease.