The Social Security Administration requires that you have earned enough “work credits” in the past in order to be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits.
What are work credits?
When you work and pay Social Security taxes, you earn up to a maximum of four “credits” for each such year.
The amount of earnings it takes to earn a credit has changed since 1978. In the year 2016, you must earn $1,260 in covered earnings to get one Social Security or Medicare work credit and $5,040 to get the maximum four credits for the year.
The number of work credits needed for disability benefits depends on your age when you become disabled. Generally, you need 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year you become disabled. However, younger workers may qualify with fewer credits.
This is why, when you call a Social Security Disability attorney about filing for disability, they will probably ask you the following question:
“Have you worked on the books for at least five of the ten years before you became disabled?
If you worked LESS, you may not even be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDB.)
In addition, the more you worked and earned over your lifetime, the higher your monthly benefit amount will be!
The most common complaint I receive from my New York Workers’ Compensation clients is that they are improperly examined by IME’s.
What is an IME?
An IME or “Independent Medical Examiner” is a doctor hired by the insurance company for the purpose of checking on, and limiting, the injured worker’s claim against the insurance company.
IME’s are certainly NOT “independent”. The word “independent” is a complete misnomer.
Here are some common things I hear from my clients after seeing an IME:
- He didn’t touch me.
- He examined me for only three minutes.
- She asked me inappropriate questions.
- He didn’t have my records.
- She didn’t know anything about my case.
- He was nasty and rude.
- His office was a mess and he seemed unprofessional.
- His medical report contains many, many errors.
Recently, a client called to tell me that she had been to an IME examination for her Workers’ Comp case involving a shoulder injury. The doctor had her sit down in a chair and asked her a few questions. He then asked her to raise her arms above her head and then asked her to put her arms behind her head as far as they would go.
Those two requests comprised his ENTIRE EXAM.
When the medical report came in from this doctor, he stated in his report that the injured worker has “zero permanent injury.”
Meanwhile, my client says she still has trouble raising her injured arm all the way.
The IME never touched my client.
This stuff happens all the time. The best way for injured workers to protect themselves is to videotape their IME exams or to bring a witness.
In this case I intend to have my client TESTIFY regarding the fact that the IME never actually examined her.
This kind of bogus IME exam, unfortunately, happens all the time. Having an experienced Workers’ Comp attorney on your side can help injured workers fight the injustices that go on way too often, in the Workers’ Comp system.