Minnesota Social Security Disability FAQs

Do you have questions about the process of applying for Social Security disability benefits? Gregg Nelson and Nelson Law Office can help. With over 30 years of experience in this area, Gregg can answer your questions and advocate effectively for you. Contact us for a free consultation.

What will Nelson Law Office do for me?

As a Minnesota Social Security Lawyer, Gregg Nelson will:

  • Review your case, including your medical records and your electronic Social Security file.
  • Meet with you to develop a strategy to win your case.
  • Evaluate the facts of your case (in light of the Social Security Administration’s complicated disability rules) and determine what needs to be proven in order to present a successful case.
  • Gather the medical records and other relevant information and obtain reports from your doctors, if appropriate.

If your case is scheduled for a hearing before an administrative law judge, Gregg will:

  • Prepare you to testify at the hearing.
  • Determine if there are witnesses who might present supportive testimony at the hearing.
  • Attend the hearing with you, help you present your testimony at the hearing, and cross-examine the witnesses called by the government.
Am I Disabled?

Gregg can help you determine if you fit the Social Security Administration’s strict definition of disability. According to the Social Security Administration, adult disability is an inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medically determinable physical or mental impairment that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months or is expected to result in death..

What is a substantial gain activity? Can I work and still apply for disability benefits?

Substantial gainful activity (SGA) describes a level of work activity/earnings and is the first consideration used by the Social Security Administration to determine eligibility for disability benefits. “Substantial” work involves significant physical or mental activities or a combination of both. “Gainful” work activity is that which is performed for pay or profit, whether or not profit is actually realized. To be eligible for disability benefits, an individual must be unable to engage in SGA.

The amount an individual can earn from work while remaining “disabled” changes from year to year. A person earning more than this amount is ordinarily considered to be engaging in SGA. Nelson Law Office provides clients with additional information on this subject. Call 651.483.1520 today for a consultation.

Is there a way to speed up this process?

Unfortunately, the Social Security Administration is backlogged with disability claims, and the process can take a considerable amount of time. Gregg Nelson and his staff are sympathetic to the financial and other challenges faced by their clients and, when appropriate, will take the necessary steps to expedite the process. The Social Security Administration may expedite your claim if:

  • Your illness is terminal; or
  • You have a 100 percent permanent and total disability compensation rating from the Department of Veterans Affairs; or
  • You are a former member of a military service who sustained an illness, injury, our wound; you are alleging a physical or mental impairment (regardless of how or where it occurred); and you sustained the impairment while on active duty status on or after October 1, 2001; or
  • Your condition is on the Social Security Administration’s list of Compassionate Allowances (CAL); or
  • You demonstrate dire need, such as an inability to obtain food, medications, medical care, shelter, etc.; or
  • You are suicidal, homicidal or potentially violent.

Nelson Law Office provides clients with more information on expedited claim status. Call 651.483.1520 today for a consultation.

What are Compassionate Allowance (CAL)?

The review process in Social Security disability cases can be very long due to the high volume of claims and the backlog of cases at the Social Security Administration. Social Security has an obligation to provide benefits quickly to applicants with certain serious medical conditions. The Compassionate Allowances (CAL) initiative is a process for expediting claims for claimants whose conditions are so severe that they invariably meet the Social Security Administration’s strict definition of disability. There are approximately 200 conditions on the CAL list.

What is the Listing of Impairments?

The Listing of Impairments is a long list of medical conditions considered by the Social Security Administration to be severe enough to prevent an individual from working. Many of the impairments on the list are permanent or are expected to result in death or include a specific statement of duration. For all others, the evidence must show that the impairment has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of at least 12 months. The criteria in the Listing of Impairments are applicable to evaluation of both SSDI and SSI claims.

You may be disabled even if your impairment is not on the Listing of Impairments. The Social Security Administration will move to the next step in its multi-step evaluation process. Gregg Nelson has decades of experience in this area and will tirelessly advocate on your behalf throughout the evaluation process. Contact Nelson Law Office for a free consultation today: 651.483.1520.

What are Grid Rules?

The Grid Rules, or the Code of Federal Regulations Medical-Vocational Guidelines, are a complex series of rules used to evaluate cases that cannot be evaluated on medical considerations alone. The Grid Rules, organized as a complicated series of charts, provide for analysis of vocational factors such as age, education, and work experience in combination with residual functional capacity (maximum sustained work capability). Sound confusing? Gregg Nelson at Nelson Law Office will help you understand the ins and outs of Grid Rules as they may pertain to your case.

What is the difference between SSDI and SSI?

The difference between Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can be confusing. In short, SSDI provides benefits to individuals who are “insured” by earnings-based contributions to the Social Security trust fund pursuant to the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). SSI, on the other hand, is an assistance program for aged, blind, and disabled individuals with limited income and resources for whom the Social Security Insurance program is not available or does not provide sufficient benefits. Eligibility for SSI depends on income and resources, not on how recently or how long the claimant worked. The Federal Government funds SSI from general tax revenues, not from the Social Security trust fund. Some individuals may qualify for both types of benefits.

What is Disability Determination Services (DDS)?

Disability Determination Services (DDS) is the state agency that works with the Social Security Administration to evaluate medical eligibility for disability benefits. DDS doctors and disability specialists will request and review medical records from your treating medical providers. If DDS decides that additional medical information is needed, you may be required to attend a consultative examination.

Will the SSA ask me to see one of their doctors?

The Social Security Administration relies upon a state agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS) to review disability claims and make determinations with regard to medical eligibility based upon medical records, laboratory and test results, medical opinions, etc. If a disability examiner at DDS finds that there is insufficient evidence upon which to make a determination, the examiner may ask you to attend a special examination with a medical provider other than the your regular doctor. You are obligated to attend this “consultative examination.” The Social Security Administration will pay for the examination and some of the related travel expenses.

If I am receiving SSDI benefits when I reach retirement age, will my monthly benefit amount increase?

Disability benefits automatically convert to retirement benefits when the recipient reaches full retirement age. The Social Security Administration cannot pay disability benefits and retirement benefits on the same earnings record at the same time. Your retirement benefit rate is calculated by the Social Security Administration.

If I am receiving SSDI and/or SSI benefits and my condition worsens, will my monthly benefit amount increase?

No. The amount of monthly SSDI benefits is based on the recipient’s Social Security earnings record. The amount of monthly SSI benefits is based on the recipient’s other income, living arrangements, etc.