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SSDI Benefits for Gig Economy Workers and Millennials

One of the more common myths about Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) is that benefits are related to the type of work you do. That is not the case. So, yes, millennials and other workers in the so-called “gig” economy — such as Uber, Lyft — can apply for — and obtain — SSDI benefits (assuming the requirements are met). In general, the requirements are that you have a medical condition that prevents you from working — any type of work including non-traditional work. If you are a millennial in New Orleans and Louisiana who can no longer work, call the lawyers at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits for Millennials: Quick Primer

As the US population has been aging, in 2018, the generation called “millennials” now comprises the country’s largest generation — about 75 million strong. One of the unique features of the millennials is a rejection of the traditional nine-to-five job model. Many millennials seek out the flexibility of job opportunities offered in the so-called “gig” economy with a work structure that is flexible and mostly worker defined. Examples of new economy jobs are those offered by Uber, Lyft, clothing piece-work, internet copywriting and so on.

But workers in these non-traditional industries suffer injuries, diseases, ailments and debilitating medical conditions just like other members of the economy. As such, these workers can be eligible for SSDI. Some workers confuse the concept of workers’ compensation with SSDI. They are different types of benefit programs. Workers compensation is for traditional employees; SSDI is available to everyone.

SSDI is run by the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). In general, New Orleans and Louisiana workers are eligible for disability benefits if they have a disease or injury or physical/mental condition that prevents or severely limits them from working — whether that work is at a traditional nine-to-five job or at a non-traditional new economy job. While the type of work is not relevant, being eligible for SSDI benefits IS linked to your ability to engage in gainful employment. So, if you CAN work, you are not considered “disabled.”

Another myth is that WHY you are no longer able to work — to engage in gainful employment — is relevant to whether your are eligible for SSDI. That is not the case. The method by which you became disabled is not an issue. Your medical condition might have been slow developing or sudden onset or might be a result of an accident. So, for those millennials in the non-traditional economy, any of the following accidents or injuries might make you eligible for SSDI benefits:

  • Having severe work limitations after a car wreck when delivering a Gubhub dinner;
  • Developing debilitating back injuries as an Uber/Lyft driver;
  • Breaking bones and snapping tendons during an Airbnb-related slip-and-fall;
  • Being seriously injured from a fall during a one-off “gig” to shingle a roof; and
  • Contracting a disabling disease while working a “gig” a hospitality worker or a movie “extra”.

Whether your specific medical condition is eligible for SSDI can be confusing and complex. Often the application process mandates submission of an extensive stack of medical records and submission of the applicant to multiple physician examinations. You are going to need a skilled and dedicated SSDI attorney like the ones at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits for Millennials: What is the Process?

In general, you begin your efforts to obtain SSDI benefits by filling out and submitting an application. As noted, depending on your debilitating condition, you may have to provide quite a bit of evidence related to your illness and medical condition. Your doctor is going to be key in helping you obtain benefits. Among the documentation:

  • Medical records;
  • Results of tests and scans;
  • Examination results;
  • Medical history; and
  • Specific illness/condition related history — that is, onset and progression and prognosis.

In addition to records related to your medical injury, illness or condition, you will need evidence related to your work limitations. Remember, you and skilled lawyers must demonstrate that your medical condition limits or prevents you from doing any “gainful activity.”

Here, again, your doctor may play a key role — or maybe an independent examination will be needed to show work limitations such as:

  • Body movement limitations;
  • Stamina limitations;
  • Perception limitations;
  • Cognitive limitations;
  • Communication limitations;
  • Occupational limitations; and
  • Social interaction limitations.

New Orleans SSDI Benefits for Millennials: Special Challenges for “Gig” Workers

There is one aspect of the millennial work style that DOES require special attention when applying for SSDI: proof of income and work history. If you are approved for SSDI benefits, your benefit amount is calculated based on your wage history. And, to be eligible, you must have a sufficient amount of qualified work. Documenting work and wage history can be a challenge. Thus, millennials are encouraged to keep good records of their “gig” work and of their payments. This need is sometimes at odds with avoiding taxation; but good record-keeping is important to your SSDI application.

As indicated, there are two issues. First, you must have engaged in a certain minimal quantity of work. For example, if you are under 24, you must have worked for at least six quarters in the three years — 12 quarters — just prior to when you became disabled. The SSA terms these “work credits.” To have “worked” during a quarter, you need a minimum level of wages or self-employment income. This is where the tax-avoidance problem might come in — you need to list your work income on your tax returns. Failing to do so can severely impact any efforts to obtain SSDI.

In terms of work credits, the amount needed to qualify is low and it changes from year to year. As the SSA explains:

“In 2018, for example, you earn one credit for each $1,320 of wages or self-employment income. When you’ve earned $5,280, you’ve earned your four credits for the year.”

So, you probably easily meet the minimum quantity of “work.” Note that there are different levels of “work” needed as you get older.

The second issue if the amount of benefits. If you are deemed eligible, your monthly benefit check will be based on your average earnings before you became disabled. Thus, again, millennials should keep good records of their “gig” work and of their income.

Learn About New Orleans SSDI Benefits for Millennials When You Call Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC

Millennials and other new-economy workers in New Orleans and Louisiana are absolutely entitled to apply for and receive SSDI benefits if they qualify. To maximize your chances of success, contact the experienced SSDI lawyers at Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC. Ascend Disability Lawyers, LLC is a leading Louisiana SSDI law firm. We have been helping New Orleans workers and the disabled obtain the benefits to which they are entitled for over a decade.

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