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I am often asked whether a person should apply for Social Security Disability benefits or appeal a denial if that person is working.  The short answer is that it depends on whether you are able to engage in Substantial Gainful Activity, or SGA for short.  In order to be considered disabled under Social Security's rules, you cannot engage in SGA.  If you can perform SGA, by definition you are not disabled.


Generally, you engage in SGA for any month that you have more than $1,040 in gross earnings.  If you earn less than that amount, and can prove that you earn less than that amount, then you should probably apply.  In deciding whether or not you are eligible, Social Security will look at the work you have done in the past, and ask whether you can do that work, or have any transferrable skills that would help you perform less active work.


If you have applied for but been denied Social Security Disability Benefits, but are now working and grossing more than $1,040 per month, then you are in a unique position.  Basically, you were disabled at the time you applied for benefits, but now you are not eligible because you are considered to be performing SGA.  A person in this situation has options, and I would recommend meeting with a Social Security attorney to discuss your options.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents applicants for social security benefits at all stages of the application and appeals process.  Please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an initial consultation to discuss your case and options.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.




 
 
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If you’re out of work, the first question you may have is whether you are eligible for unemployment benefits.  The answer depends on whether you were laid off, fired, or quit.  Regardless, you should apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible after losing or leaving a job.

LAID OFF OR FIRED: If you were laid off or fired, and assuming that you meet all of the other eligibility criteria, you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits unless you were laid off or fired because of employment misconduct.  Employment misconduct as “any intentional, negligent, or indifferent conduct, on the job or off the job that displays clearly (1.) a serious violation of the standards of behavior the employer has the right to reasonably expect of the employee; or (2.) a substantial lack of concern for the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 6(a).   So, unless you were laid off or fired for employment misconduct, and assuming that all of the other eligibility criteria are met, you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

QUIT: However, if you quit a job, you are not eligible for unemployment benefits unless you had good reason to quit caused by the employer, even if you meet all of the other criteria for eligibility.  A “good reason to quit caused by the employer” is  defined as “a reason (a.) that is directly related to the employment and for which the employer is responsible; (b.) that is adverse to the worker; and (c.) that would compel an average, reasonable worker to quit and become unemployed rather than remaining in the employment.”  Minn. Stat. § 268.095, subd. 3(a).  So, if you quit, you are generally ineligible to receive unemployment benefits unless you had good reason to quit caused by the employer.

APPEALS: After you apply for unemployment benefits, Unemployment Insurance Minnesota (“UIMN”) will issue a determination of whether or not you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits.  If either the employer or applicant is not satisfied with UIMN’s initial determination, that party may appeal the determination.  There are three stages in the appeal process.

First, an Unemployment Law Judge (“ULJ”) presides over an evidentiary hearing, usually conducted by telephone.  At the evidentiary hearing, the parties present evidence about a former employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.  For example, if an employee was fired, the former employer would attempt to show that the employee was fired for employment misconduct, and vice versa.  The ULJ will make findings of fact and determine whether the applicant is eligible for unemployment benefits.

Second, if either the employer or applicant is not satisfied with the ULJ’s determination, that party can file a Request for Reconsideration (“RFR”) with the same ULJ.  The RFR must allege that factual errors, errors of law, or procedural errors were made at the evidentiary hearing.  The ULJ will then review the evidence presented at the evidentiary hearing and decide whether any errors occurred.  After reviewing the evidentiary hearing, the ULJ will then issue an order either affirming, reversing, or re-opening the evidentiary hearing.

Third, a party not satisfied with the outcome of the Request for Reconsideration can appeal to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.  Generally, the Court of Appeals will defer to the findings and determinations made by the ULJ, unless the ULJ clearly made an error of law, the hearing violated the applicant’s constitutional rights, or a procedural error occurred.  Minn. Stat. § 268.105, subd. 7(d).

THE BOTTOM LINE: If you want to appeal UIMN’s initial determination of eligibility or ineligibility, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible because you only have a limited amount of time in which to appeal.  Generally, you want to prevail at the evidentiary hearing because winning at the subsequent stages of the appeal process is much more difficult, largely because the subsequent appeals are reviews of what happened at the evidentiary hearing.  For this reason,  I strongly recommend hiring an attorney to represent you at the evidentiary hearing rather than later in the appeal process.

Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C. represents both applicants and employers at the evidentiary hearing and throughout the appeals process.  Please call (763) 450-9494 today to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.

WARNING: The information contained in this blog post does not constitute legal advice and may not be applicable to your situation.  Reading this blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Baland Law Office, P.L.L.C.  You should always discuss your situation with an attorney before taking any action based on what you may read in this blog.  To that end, please call (763) 450-9494 to set up an appointment to discuss your situation.