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    Understanding Your Right to Appeal a Social Security Administration Decision

    Last updated 1 month ago

    Americans who have paid into the Social Security system have a right to receive benefits. If you are improperly denied those benefits, the government is required to let you exercise due process under the U.S. Constitution and challenge the rejection. In the Social Security context, this means appealing a wrongfully denied claim and having your day in court.

    The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers Supplemental Security Income applicants several ways to appeal. First, applicants can request a “reconsideration,” where a different SSA reviewer looks at the application to make sure it was not wrongfully denied. Then, applicants can appeal their case to a special SSA judge. If the judge does not rule in their favor, applicants can petition a special appeals council or federal court.

    The attorneys at Dixon & Johnston, P.C. know how to effectively appeal Social Security claims. If your application was unfairly denied, call our St. Louis-area office at (618) 207-3770 to discuss your legal options. We may be able to help you receive benefits through reconsideration or judicial appeal. 

    Rules for Working While Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits

    Last updated 1 month ago

    This video from the Social Security Administration explains government rules that encourage disabled individuals to re-enter the workplace. Americans collecting SSDI automatically receive a nine-month trial period, during which they can work and earn money while still receiving monthly benefits and Medicare.

    If an individual must stop working during this period, their benefits are not affected. However, if someone decides to continue working past the ninth month, his or her checks will be decreased or stop coming during the period of employment.

    Disability insurance is full of unique rules. The lawyers at Dixon & Johnston, P.C. have decades of experience helping clients receive the benefits they deserve. If the government has denied or cut off your benefits, call us at (618) 207-3770 to see if we can appeal the claim. 

    Does Divorce Affect Your Social Security Benefits?

    Last updated 2 months ago

    As with many questions surrounding finances and divorce, the answer to this question is: “it depends.” The intersection of retirement planning and family law is full of exceptions and regulations; individuals should consult a local Social Security attorney to get answers to their unique questions. Here is a short overview of the most common ways divorce affects Social Security:


    If a couple splits up after many years of marriage but before age 60, one spouse may not always be entitled to benefits from the other spouse. However, if a couple has been married for at least 10 years and they split up after age 60, a dependent spouse may be entitled to a share of his or her spouse’s retirement or disability benefits. Generally, a divorcee can receive up to one-half his or her ex-spouse’s full retirement benefits so long as he or she begins collecting these benefits after age 65.


    An individual’s decision to remarry after divorce can also change his or her benefits status. For instance, if you divorced after 60 and your former spouse has remarried but your have not, you may still collect up to half his or her benefits. However, if you remarry but your spouse does not, you may not collect your former spouse’s benefits, and he or she may collect a portion of yours if yours is higher.

    Work Record

    The above guidelines only apply to individuals whose retirement benefits under Supplemental Security Income (SSI) would be very low if assessed on their own work records. This is often the case for spouses who worked inside the home. But if an individual spent the last decade in the workplace, his or her own SSI benefits may be greater than 50% of a former spouse’s check.

    Dixon & Johnston, P.C. is a law firm whose attorneys handle both divorce and Social Security issues. If you need advice regarding your unique divorce, marriage, and benefits situation, call out team today at (618) 207-3770. We offer free initial consultations for all first-time clients.

    How Your Age Affects the Number of Credits You Need to Earn Disability Benefits

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a government program that provides income replacement for individuals who are too injured or sick to work. This federally run policy can help all those who can’t work for at least one year. SSDI involves different requirements based on age and work history. The following is an overview of the age regulations pertaining to disability benefits:

    Younger Than 31 Years Old

    Disabled or injured employees seeking SSDI benefits must have paid taxes on their income in the years prior to applying for this program. These are counted in “credits,” and a worker earns 4 credits for an entire year of employment. Individuals under the age of 24 are only required to have earned 6 credits in the three years preceding their SSDI claim. Meanwhile, workers between the age of 24 and 30 are expected to have worked at least part time during the 6 years before they get injured (counting only after age 21). This means that a 28-year-old applying for benefits would need to have accrued 14 credits in the 7 years since he or she turned 21.

    Age 31 or Older

    Once an individual turns 31, the Social Security Administration (SSA) counts the last 10 years of work when considering an applicant’s eligibility. This can be helpful for those who may have endured unemployment or job transitions in their early 20s. SSDI applicants over 31 are required to have worked at least part time (earning an average of 2 credits per year) over the last decade. However, the rules are different for blind and otherwise disabled Americans.

    If you have questions about whether your age or job history may affect your claim for SSDI, consult a local attorney before filing your paperwork with the SSA. St. Louis and Belleville-area residents in need of effective advice should consult the legal team at Dixon & Johnston, P.C. by dialing (618) 207-3770. 

    Tips for Increasing Your Social Security Benefit Payments

    Last updated 2 months ago

    Supplemental Security Income is a benefit program that provides monthly income to people aged 65 and older and people who are blind or disabled with very little income and assets. Application for Supplemental Security Income is done through the Social Security Administration, over the phone, in person, or online. When determining an applicant’s SSI eligibility and benefit amount, the SSA will consider his or her income and assets.

    Apply as Soon as You Are Eligible
    If you apply for Supplemental Security Income, you will need to provide the Social Security Administration with information about your medical conditions, necessary treatment, past work experience, and education. The SSA’s process for determining your eligibility can take time, so you should apply as soon as you become eligible. It’s possible to qualify for retroactive period benefits that compensate you for the time you spent waiting for the SSA to decide on your application.

    Keep SSA Updated on Employment Status
    If you start a job, leave a job, or experience any changes to your employment status, let the Social Security Administration know right away. Changes to your employment status can affect your monthly benefit eligibility, but reporting the change right away can help you prevent overpayment problems. Be sure to keep a record of your report to the SSA in case you need to prove that you reported the change to the SSA.

    Appeal an SSA Decision
    You can appeal any decision that the SSA reaches about your benefit eligibility if you it to be incorrect. This includes appealing a decision to deny your benefits or to reduce or terminate your benefits. The appeals process can be difficult to navigate, so it’s a good idea to first speak with an experienced Social Security attorney.

    If you would like to learn more about qualifying for Supplemental Security Income, schedule a meeting with Dixon & Johnston, P.C. Our firm offers focused representation, beginning with a free initial consultation. You can reach our Belleville office by dialing (618) 207-3770. 

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