Thursday, September 30, 2010

Income Doesn't Bar Disability Benefits

Receiving an income does not automatically preclude receiving Social Security Disability (“SSD”) benefits. The test is whether you are engaging in work that involves significant physical or mental activity for pay or hopefully for profit, which excludes any type of passive investment income.

Since entitlement to SSD benefits does not include a financial need requirement, receiving loans or gifts of money from friends or relative is not an issue. There may be circumstances where a claimant receives money through a family run business while alleging that he or she was not working at the business. In these situations the Social Security Administration presumes that the claimant is working rather than receiving a gift.

On numerous occasions I have represented a claimant who continued to receive money through a family run business after the time when the claimant alleged that he or she stopped working there. The question is how do you prove that the money the claimant received from the family business was not for engaging in work that involved significant physical or mental activity.

I represent a 39 year old woman who worked at her father’s company as a secretary because she was unable to work elsewhere due to her reflex sympathetic dystrophy (“RSD”). Her RSD eventually became so severe that she was unable even to work with all of the accommodations at her father’s business. However, in order to maintain her health insurance, the claimant’s father continued to keep her on the payroll.

I submitted third party evidence to substantiate the fact that the claimant had not been working. Today, I received a fully favorable decision from Administrative Law Judge Ronald Waldman who concluded that the claimant’s 2008 and 2009 income was not substantial because she had not actually worked.

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