Entitlement Issues for Social Security disability benefits in New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts

The Social Security disability system is meant to assist those who remain long-term disabled for a year or longer.  While we many times focus on what is required to prove entitlement from a medical standpoint, we many times encounter potential clients who are seeking benefits for a long term disabling condition but do not meet the additional requirements to meet either the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI or Title II) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) requirements.  Below is a story of one such individual who recently contacted our office to determine why they were having a problem collecting a benefit.

Janice is a woman in her late 50’s from New Hampshire who has been suffering from a multiple chemical sensitivity disorder for many years which has hindered her ability to go out in public given the impact the fumes of various chemicals will have on her breathing (and which will otherwise cause her to become quite ill).  She worked for a number of years as a school bus driver until such time as the fumes from the bus itself became problematic for her.

Janice has seen a number of specialists at some of the most well-known and well-respected medical centers in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for her condition.   She has remained aggressive and persistent with her treatment.   Notwithstanding this fact, she has not been able to find any answers that have allowed her to return to work.

One of the first questions an experienced NH Social Security lawyer would ask Janice is when did she last work and how long did this work attempt last.   What we learned from speaking with Janice is that her last attempt at returning to work lasted only a very short period of time (a matter of days) and that she had to go right back out because of the chemicals she came in contact with at her place of employment.  Given this fact, in order to determine whether Janice remains eligible to collect SSDI benefits, we needed to find out Janice’s date last insured: that is to say, the date before which she would need to prove she had become disabled from working any manner of gainful employment.  In discussing Janice’s past work history, it became more apparent that this could become a big issue for her given the fact that she had last worked for a school district driving a bus.  Ultimately, we found out that Janice had not been insured for a good 15 years prior to becoming disabled from working and, therefore, SSDI benefits would not be a viable option for her.

It is important to note that not all manner of employment income is Social Security taxed: many municipalities (including that of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, State of New Hampshire and State of Maine) have their own disability and retirement system that one will contribute to instead of the Social Security disability system.  Moreover, if someone remains self-employed and does not claim an income (for example, a net profit on their Schedule C, profit and loss statement), then they may not end up insured for purposes of being able to collect a Social Security disability insurance check.  With that in mind, it remains important to work and to pay Social Security taxes consistently as it covers an individual for when they become disabled or, ultimately, reach retirement age.

The second analysis a good disability lawyer will undertake in Janice’s circumstance is the extent to which Janice may qualify for a benefit under the SSI program (which is a Social Security welfare program based on need).  Simply because Janice did not work sufficiently to qualify for a benefit under the SSDI program does not mean that the Social Security disability program will leave her in the lurch if she would otherwise be in poverty.  In reviewing Janice’s family circumstances we were able to determine that her husband’s income (not to mention rental income in the household) was likely going to preclude any entitlement to such a benefit).   Thus, a review of Janice’s circumstances caused us to determine that she really had no viable claim to bring under any of the Social Security disability programs.

Thus, if you are someone you love you is suffering from a long term disabling illness or injury that has been keeping them from working, contact the Law Offices of Russell J. Goldsmith at 1-800-773-8622 to see if Social Security disability benefits may be appropriate.  There is no charge to speak with us, and if we are able to assist, fees are limited to the lesser of 25% of the past due benefits recovered or the present federal cap on such fees of $6,000.00  and there is no fee unless and until we recover for you.