Archive for August, 2017

Long-Term Disability vs. Social Security Disability Ohio

As disability lawyers in Cleveland, Ohio, the attorneys with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman never find it helpful for our clients to think in terms of “long-term disability versus Social Security disability.” Rather, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is one long-term disability program among many. It is true that SSDI offers such benefits to the greatest number of disabled Americans, but it must be stressed that is just a single such option.


We discuss SSDI and the related federal program of Supplemental Security Income (SSI) in greater detail elsewhere on our website. The most important thing to know about SSDI and SSI are that the person who applies must have paid into the Social Security program or be the legal dependent of someone who has. Almost as important, qualifying for federal disability benefits and income replacement payments is usually difficult, requiring extensive medical records and reams of paperwork.


A few other essential facts about SSDI and SSI are the following:


  • Federal disability benefits are awarded to people with a physical, mental, or emotional problem that leaves them unable to work for a year or more, or which has a high likelihood to prove fatal in the near future.
  • SSI payments are based on current income from all other sources, financial investments, and belongings that can be sold for cash.
  • People do not need to be disabled to qualify for SSI payments, but many SSDI beneficiaries also receive federal income support.
  • A family member, trusted caregiver, or representative of a residential care facility can be designated to receive SSDI benefits and SSI payments for a profoundly disabled person.


Disabled individuals and their families need to look beyond SSDI and SSI if they are Ohio public school employees, individuals who worked at a state university or community college, someone who worked in state, county, or city government. The Ohio Public Employees Retirement System, or OPERS, and similar public sector retirement plans take the place of Social Security for these people. Applying to OPERS or a similar retirement system poses unique challenges that a knowledgeable Cleveland social security disability lawyer can help a disabled person overcome.


A third set of options for long-term disability exists for many people through their health insurance and life insurance policies. Each policy is different, and long-term care and income support provisions are often separate coverages people need to add to basic policies or purchase as standalone policies, but personal insurance usually pays out in addition to any federal or retirement plan benefits. Consulting with an experienced disability lawyer will help clarify choices for coverage and provide guidance when invoking long-term care and income replacement provisions.


The disability lawyers in the Cleveland, Ohio, offices of Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman welcome opportunities to help people explore all their options regarding SSDI, SSI, retirement plan benefits, and long-term care insurance coverage. We offer no-cost, no-obligation consultations, and we can come to you if traveling presents too many challenges. To set up an appointment, call (800) 678-3318 or connect with us online.

How an SSDI Applicant’s Functional Limitations Are Judged

Qualifying to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits depends on having what the Social Security Administration considers “marked” or “extreme” functional limitations. The limitation can be physical, mental, or both, but they must be judged serious enough to prevent the applicant from working 8 hours a day for five days a week at a job he or she has the training and experience to perform.


SSDI adjudicators — the case officers who recommend approving or denying a long-term disability claim — assess each applicant’s residual functional capacity, or RFC. This is defined in a Social Security guidance document as “an individual’s ability to do sustained work-related physical and mental activities in a work setting on a regular and continuing basis.” Evidence for assigning a score to an applicant’s RFC comes from the following sources:


  • Medical records that include diagnoses, prognoses, and results from occupational therapy
  • The applicant’s personal descriptions of symptoms
  • Laboratory findings
  • Descriptions of symptoms and the applicant’s functioning from parents or a spouse, teachers or employers, and other people who know the person


An SSDI adjudicator may also request demonstrations of certain physical and mental functions, with those tests being conducted and reported by a health care provider named by the SSDI program.


When an applicant for federal disability benefits claims to have limits on his or her physical function, the adjudicator will grade the applicant on the ability to perform sedentary, light, medium, or heavy tasks while engaging in any of the following activities:


  • Bending from the waist
  • Crawling
  • Bending at the knees
  • Adapting to extreme temperatures or sudden changes in temperature
  • Spending time in sunlight or under bright indoor lights
  • Breathing unfiltered air
  • Typing
  • Writing
  • Reaching for objects
  • Manipulating objects
  • Seeing
  • Hearing
  • Speaking


When an SSDI applicant claims mental limitations, the RCP will reflect the person’s abilities to:


  • Follow instructions
  • Maintain concentration
  • Adhere to a schedule
  • Complete tasks without constant supervision
  • Make appropriate decisions
  • Interact with people appropriately
  • Accept the kinds of criticism and correction normal to any job
  • Tolerate work-related stress
  • Report to work on time
  • Meet expectations for personal cleanliness


In addition to giving points for each degree of functionality on the listed criteria, the SSDI adjudicator considers the RCP in relation to the type of work the SSDI applicant has done in the past and is qualified to do in the future. For instance, a carpenter or factory worker may be able to so sedentary typing work, but the person could still be determined to have an extreme limitation because physical disabilities make returning to a construction site or production line impossible.


Collecting, organizing, and presenting all the evidence needed to support a federal disability claim can be difficult and time-consuming. Working with a Cleveland Social Security disability lawyer will help ensure an initial SSDI application is as complete as possible. Enlisting the help of an experienced disability attorney early in the process will also give an applicant a knowledgeable and ready ally should appealing a denial of benefits become necessary.


Let the Cleveland Social Security disability lawyers with Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman know how we can be of assistance. Schedule a free consultation online or call us at (800) 678-3318.

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Agee Clymer Mitchell & Portman
6100 Oak Tree Blvd., Suite 200, Cleveland Ohio 44131 USA
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