John Nguyen, Attorney at Law
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How does the government decide if I am disabled?

Many people in and around Modesto, California, may one day find themselves unable to work due to an illness or an injury. Without being able to earn an income, these people will have to turn to other sources for financial support.

In this respect, the Social Security Administration, as the responsible arm of the federal government, awards Social Security Disability benefits. These monthly payments can be a real lifesaver to someone who is out of work, as they can help him or her maintain financial stability while trying to recover.

Although there are a lot of hurdles Californians must overcome to get these benefits, the biggest one is proving that they are indeed legally disabled. This requires more than simply saying that one is not able to work due to an illness or injury.

Instead, the Administration will ask whether a person applying for disability is capable of what it calls substantial gainful activity. This phrase has a technical legal definition, but, for the purpose of this post, one can think of it as a question of whether an applicant can or cannot work given his or her medical issues.

When reviewing an application for benefits, the Administration will employ a five-step process. After considering whether the applicant is currently working, the Administration will ask how long the person's condition is expected to last. The condition must also be recognized as debilitating under the Administration's rules.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, an applicant will have to use medical and other evidence to demonstrate that he or she is neither able to work in his or her chose profession nor able to readily find another type of job given his or her skill set.

Even for someone who truly has a debilitating condition, getting disability benefits can be difficult, especially when one attempts to do so without the help of a legal professional.

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John Nguyen, Attorney at Law
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