Louisiana SSDI Application Guide: Get Approved for Benefits

Processing an SSDI Application in Louisiana can feel daunting when facing a disability. But fear not! This guide provides valuable insights specifically designed to help you achieve a successful SSDI application in Louisiana.

An SSDI application is the process of applying for Social Security Disability Insurance. This federal program provides financial assistance to residents of Louisiana, like Monroe, who are disabled and have a limited ability to work. It’s crucial because it offers a vital safety net, helping individuals cover basic needs like food and shelter while they manage their disability.

Short Summary

  • Can’t Work Due to Illness? You may qualify for benefits if a medical condition keeps you from a regular job for at least a year or is life-threatening. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a process to decide who qualifies.
  • Gather Proof. When applying, you’ll need doctor’s reports, work history, and some basic information.
  • Doctor’s Opinion Counts. The SSA puts more weight on your regular doctor’s opinion. Make sure they have all your medical records and explain clearly why you can’t work.
  • Honesty About Substance Use. Having a substance abuse problem doesn’t automatically disqualify you, especially with a mental health condition or health problems caused by substance use.

In this article, we will uncover everything you need to know about SSDI applications in Louisiana.

What is Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)?

If you are blind, disabled, or 65 years or older and have limited income and resources, you might qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), also known as Title XVI. This program provides financial assistance to meet basic needs. On the other hand, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), also called Title II, is for disabled or blind individuals who have worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes. This program offers financial support to those who can no longer work due to their disability.

Discover the Truth About Qualifying for Louisiana SSDI – Am I Eligible?

For every SSDI application in Louisiana, it is important to know whether you are eligible or not. 

Under Social Security disability rules, being disabled means you can’t work a regular job because of a medical condition that can be proven by a doctor. This condition must either last at least a year, be expected to last a year, or be life-threatening.

Doctors use evidence to confirm your condition, including:

  • Signs: These are things a doctor can see during an exam, like a cast on a broken arm.
  • Symptoms: These are things you feel and tell your doctor about, like pain or trouble sleeping.
  • Test results: These are results from X-rays, blood work, or other tests your doctor orders.

Working a little is okay: The “regular job” part also considers how much money you make. You can still get benefits if you earn below a certain amount. This amount is adjusted each year.

How Does the SSA Define Disability?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a 5-step test to see if your disability qualifies for benefits. During your SSDI Application in Louisiana, they can ask the following:

  1. Are you unable to work a regular job? The SSA considers how much you earn and if your condition prevents basic tasks like lifting, walking, or remembering things.
  2. Is your condition very limiting for at least a year? This means you can’t work much because of your disability.
  3. Does your condition match a severe disability on the SSA’s list? If not, they will decide if it’s just as serious.
  4. Can you still do your old job? Even if your condition isn’t on the list, you might qualify if you can’t do your past work anymore.
  5. Can you do any other type of work? The SSA will consider your age, education, skills, and limitations. If they decide there’s no other work you can do, you qualify for benefits.

The way the Social Security Administration (SSA) decides who gets disability benefits can be confusing and sometimes even wrong.  That’s why there’s a way to appeal their decision, but that process can be frustrating with long waits and extra steps.

How To Apply for SSDI in Louisiana?

You can apply for SSDI in three ways: online, by phone, or in person. No matter which way you choose, you’ll need to gather some information:

  • When and where you were born
  • If you’ve ever been married, your spouse’s name(s) and the dates you were married
  • If you have children who depend on you, their names and birthdays
  • If you served in the U.S. military, any records you have
  • Details about your jobs (or self-employment) for the past two years
  • Your bank account information
  • Your medical records

Once you submit your application and all the documents you collected, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will review it to see if you qualify for benefits. If they think you might qualify, they’ll send your application to a special office in your state that decides on disability claims. This office will then make the final decision about your benefits.

Maximizing Your Chances:  Essential Tips To Strengthen Your SSDI Application in Monroe, LA

Here are the useful tips for a successful SSDI application in Louisiana:

Reference SSRs, HALLEX, & POMS Policies When Favorable

Think of SSRs as winning arguments the Social Security Administration (SSA) has already made. They’re like published examples that show how the SSA decides certain disability cases. These are important because judges usually agree with the SSA’s reasoning in SSRs. You can find them online on the SSA’s website.

Disability Means Inability to Work Full-Time

The Social Security Administration (SSA) considers someone able to work at the final step of their disability review if they can do a regular job for 40 hours a week. This means showing up on time and working a set schedule most of the time. They’ll also consider if you’d miss a lot of work for doctor visits or treatments related to your disability.

Take note of the definitions of “occasionally” and “frequently” to show your client’s inability for light or sedentary work

The Social Security Administration (SSA) has different categories for how much physical activity a job requires. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Easy jobs (sedentary): These involve mostly sitting, but you might need to walk or stand for a short time now and then. You might also occasionally lift or carry light things like folders or small tools.
  • Light jobs: These involve frequently lifting or carrying things up to 10 pounds, like a backpack full of books.
  • Medium jobs: These involve frequently lifting or carrying things up to 25 pounds, like a box of groceries.

Here’s a tip: The SSA uses a dictionary to define words like “occasional” and “frequent.”  This dictionary says “occasional” means doing something for up to a third of your workday, and “frequent” means doing something for a third to two-thirds of your workday.  You can mention this to the judge (ALJ) handling your case and to your doctor when they assess your abilities.

Mitigate the impact of unfavorable non-treating medical opinion

Sometimes, the Social Security Administration (SSA) sends you to a doctor they choose to examine you for your disability case. This doctor’s opinion might not be the most important because:

  • They might not have seen all your medical records. This includes recent doctor visits or letters from your regular doctor that explain your condition better.
  • They might not have reviewed your records carefully. If the doctor doesn’t mention looking at your medical history, it’s important to point that out.
  • They might not explain their decision well. If their reason for disagreeing with your disability seems unclear, you can argue that.
  • They might not have spent enough time with you. If the exam felt rushed, you can mention that in your case.

This doctor’s opinion is just one piece of the puzzle. The SSA should consider all your medical evidence, not just their doctor’s exam.

Your Regular Doctor’s Opinion Matters More

The Social Security Administration (SSA) usually listens more to your regular doctor than to a doctor they pick for your case. This is because your regular doctor knows you better. They’ve seen you for a long time and understand your condition. They also have records of your treatments and test results.

The SSA should agree with your doctor’s opinion about your disability if:

  • They have good proof. This means using medical tests and exams to support their decision.
  • Their opinion makes sense with all the other evidence.

Even if the SSA doesn’t fully agree with your doctor at first, they should still listen carefully. If your doctor’s reasoning isn’t clear, the SSA should ask them for more details.

Be Honest About Substance Use

Sometimes, the judge (ALJ) might ask you about drug or alcohol use during your disability hearing. Here’s the thing: Having a problem with drugs or alcohol doesn’t automatically mean you can’t get disability benefits.

The judge might be mistaken:

  • Some judges might think no one with drug or alcohol problems can get benefits. That’s not true!
  • Some judges might not like people who struggle with these issues.

Here’s when you might still qualify for benefits:

  • You have a mental health condition along with your drug or alcohol problem.
  • You have a lasting health problem caused by drugs or alcohol, even if you stop using them. This could be something like liver damage or memory problems.

Be honest about your situation. If you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, be upfront with the judge.

Following Your Doctor’s Orders Matters

If your regular doctor prescribes treatment for your disability, you should usually follow their advice. This treatment could help you get better and return to work. However, there are some exceptions:

  • The treatment won’t help you work. If the doctor’s plan wouldn’t improve your ability to work, then not following it won’t hurt your chances of getting disability benefits.
  • You have a reason for not following it. Maybe your mental health condition makes it hard to understand or follow the treatment plan. The judge will consider this.
  • There’s a good reason you can’t follow it. Here are some examples:
  • You couldn’t find free treatment.
  • You couldn’t afford the medicine or treatment.
  • The treatment has serious risks.
  • You’ve tried similar treatments before and they didn’t work.

Getting a Second Chance with Social Security Disability

The Social Security Administration (SSA) can sometimes revisit old disability claims. Here are a few reasons why they might reopen a case:

  • Mental Health Issues: If you had a mental health condition that made it hard to understand your rights or appeal your first decision, you might be able to reopen your claim even if it was a long time ago.
  • Recent Decisions: If the SSA just denied your claim for disability benefits, you have one year to ask them to look at it again for any reason.
  • New Information or Mistakes: You might be able to reopen your claim within a few years (4 years for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and 2 years for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)) if you have new evidence about your disability, or if the SSA made a mistake in your first decision. Here are some examples of new evidence:
  • New medical records showing your condition has worsened.
  • Proof that the SSA made a mistake in your file..

Navigate Your SSDI Application in Louisiana with Confidence: Our Disability Lawyer Can Help You!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the paperwork and process, don’t worry – that’s completely normal.  If you need help with your SSDI application in Louisiana, talk to an experienced social security disability lawyer today!  We can explain your options and guide you through the steps.

For over 35 years, E. Orum Young Law has been helping people in their SSDI application in Louisiana. We know applying for disability benefits can be confusing, and we’re here to listen to your situation. We’ll work with you one-on-one to make sure you get the legal help you need. 

We handle both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Get a free case review now!