Social Security Disability Attorneys
In June 2017, 8.8 million Americans were receiving disability payments to the sum of $10.3 billion. It is estimated that nearly 62 million Americans will receive approximately $955 billion in Social Security benefits for the entire year of 2017.
Obtaining Social Security disability payments is one of the most difficult financial processes, due in large part to the massive number of fraudulent disability claims attempted every year.
Many applications will be rejected the first time they are filed, which causes many that are genuinely eligible to receive these benefits to become discouraged and even give up filing again.
The Primary Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
The US government has created four main types of Social Security Benefits, in an effort to cater to almost all of the nearly 2 million Social Security disability applicants who file every year.
Specific eligibility criteria must be met in order to qualify for benefits. The categories of Social Security disability benefits include:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI):
SSDI benefits provide financial assistance to those that have sustained an injury so severe they are unable to return to work. However, in order to be eligible, the injured victim must have worked for at least five (5) of the last ten (10) years.
Supplementary Security Income (SSI):
SSI benefits are similar to SSDI but differ slightly. They are both available to disabled adults and children but SSI benefits are based on the income of the applicant instead of how many years that applicant has been employed.
Disabled Widow’s Benefits (DWB):
DWB benefits provide assistance to widows and widowers that have become disabled following the death of their spouse. Note; there are specific time constraints in regards to the death of a spouse that apply to this benefit.
Disabled Child (DC):
DC benefits offer financial aid to a child that has become disabled prior to the age of 22 years old. The parents of the child must either be deceased or currently receive benefits themselves to be eligible for this type of benefit.
All of these types of disability payments are based upon a Social Security earnings record. If the applicant meets the criteria and is eligible to receive the benefits, the benefits will be awarded, regardless of personal financial standings.
What are the Application Requirements?
Each type of disability claim has its own criteria but there are some common guidelines that applicants must abide by in order to be considered for benefits.
This list of eligibility requirements can include (but is not limited to):
- The applicant must be unable to work at their previous type of job.
- The applicant must be unable to perform any other available work.
- The applicant must have been disabled or impaired for at least 12 months.
- The injury of the applicant must conform to the federal definition of “severe impairment.”
- The applicant must be unemployed when the request is filed.
As with any government application, there is always the possibility that the application may be denied.
Medical Conditions that are Eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance
Unfortunately, a debilitating injury often prevents a person from returning to the workforce.
There are a number of different injuries and medical conditions that may make a person eligible to receive Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income.
These types of common injuries and medical conditions include (but are not limited to):
- Asthma or other respiratory problems
- Back ailments
- Seizure disorders such as asthma
- Heart conditions
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome
- Loss of eyesight or blindness
- HIV or AIDS
Always obtain and secure all of the documentation related to your injury – Doctor’s notes, insurance claims, medical records, etc. – should those documents and records need to be submitted along with your Social Security disability application.
Applying for Social Security Disability
With the advancement of technology, people can now apply online for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). Make sure you have all of the documents you need before you apply, because there is a lengthy checklist of items you must have in order to qualify for it.
If you don’t have internet access, you can apply by phone at (800) 772-1213, or you can visit your local Social Security office to apply in-person.
You must not already be receiving any kind of Social Security benefits. If you’ve been turned down for SSDI in the last 60 days, you won’t be able to apply.
In order for your application to be approved, you must be able to demonstrate that you are severely or entirely disabled. A disability is a condition or injury that can prevent you from performing most work (“substantial gainful activity”), and will either end in death or last for at least a year. There is a detailed list of impairments the Social Security office maintains, including information on how disability claims are evaluated.
If you think you might be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance, you should start the application process right away. On average, it can take over 3 months to receive a final verdict regarding your disability claim. Many claims are denied, and it could take months or even years to appeal the ruling because there is a large backlog of cases.
Bear in mind:
You can receive SSDI benefits regardless of your age, unlike retirement benefits. If your claim is approved, you will receive payment that’s equivalent to your full retirement age. This is the age where you’d be able to receive 100% of your entitled benefits based on your overall earnings.
By definition, “substantial gainful activity” is a work income cap based on national wage trends that changes annually. This year’s limit is $1,260 per month or $2,110 per month if you are statutorily blind. With the exception of programs and work periods to assist people with returning to the workforce, you will not be able to collect SSDI if you’re earning more money.
Why People Are Denied Social Security Disability
Prior Convictions: In most cases, past convictions have little impact on a person’s ability to collect SSDI benefits. Convicts, on the other hand, are ineligible to receive benefits if their disability occurred during a felony conviction, the disability began or became worse while they were serving time in a correctional facility, they widowed or orphaned themselves intentionally in order to receive benefits, or their probation or parole was violated.
Alcohol or Drug Dependence: If an applicant had an addiction to alcohol or drugs that materially contributed to the disability, they will be ineligible to receive benefits.
Compliance Failure: Applicants are required by the SSA to submit medical records from their primary care doctor. If they do not comply with this requirement, they could be denied SSDI. If applicants do not have a primary care physician, the SSA will schedule an exam with one of their doctors. If an applicant refuses the examinations or misses their appointments, they will be denied benefits.
Fraud: An applicant’s benefits may be terminated by the SSA if they lied on their application about their disability, and they could also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for fraud.
Short-Term Disability: In order for an applicant to be eligible for short-term SSDI benefits, the SSA will need to determine if the impairment or injury, such as what a person might sustain in an automobile accident, will last up to a year, or if the accident turns out to be fatal. Blind applicants are exempt from these requirements.
Appealing a Social Security Disability Denial
It can take between 3 to 6 months for the SSA to review your application and make a decision. If your claim is denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal, or a Request for Reconsideration. It is recommended that you seek the help of a Social Security disability attorney because they not only understand the appeals process, but they can help you obtain all the required medical records and paperwork the SSA will need, including a doctor’s statement regarding your condition. If the SSA has more information to work with, they’ll be able to make a more informed decision. This process can take 2 to 3 months. In many cases, the claim is usually denied. After 60 days, you can request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge.
Requesting a Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
The second stage of the appeals process can take between 14 and 22 months because there are a high volume of cases and a small number of judges available to preside over them. A judge will listen to your testimony and ask you a few questions based on the information you have provided. Witnesses, as well as experts, can also testify if need be. A decision will be made on your case once the hearing is completed and a letter will be mailed to you regarding the decision that was made. If your case is still denied, you can have your claim reviewed by the Appeals Council.
Requesting an Appeals Council Review
In the third stage, an Appeals Council will review your claim to see if the judge made any mistakes in your case. They won’t determine if you’re actually disabled. This process takes between 12 and 15 months, and in most cases, the claims are denied. The next step is to escalate the case in a federal courtroom.
Submitting Your Case to a Federal Court
The fourth and final stage in the Social Security Disability benefits appeals process is to submit your case to a federal court. Because this type of lawsuit is so complex, you should request assistance from an experienced Social Security disability attorney. They will check to see if the procedures were followed correctly when the ruling was made regarding your claim. They won’t determine a person’s disability status. It can be difficult to win an SSDI case in federal court, which is why you’ll need some assistance from an experienced lawyer.
If you’re a first-time SSDI applicant, or your claim was denied and you’re trying to appeal it, you must be prepared for whatever happens next. SSDI applications and appeals processes can take years and can be quite frustrating if you have bills and living expenses that you are struggling to pay. Our lawyers at The Eichholz Law Firm are here for you every step of the way throughout the entire process, which begins by offering you important information regarding your claim.
How to Determine If You Need a Social Security Disability Attorney
While an attorney is not required during any stage of the SSDI application process, it’s advised that you hire one before you submit your application for the first time.
Some applicants believe that they only need to complete a few forms in order to apply for disability benefits. If only it were that simple. The SSA requires lots of paperwork, personal information, and medical records.
People also make mistakes or errors that could jeopardize their chances of receiving SSDI. Many applications are denied for this reason alone.
Contact The Eichholz Law Firm
Our Social Security disability attorneys at The Eichholz Law Firm have years of experience representing clients in the initial application and appeals processes, as well as the necessary resources to ensure that these individuals receive the benefits they rightfully deserve.
Call our legal team at (855)-551-1019 or fill out an online contact form.
- AARP. “Social Security Resource Center”, AARP, https://www.aarp.org/retirement/social-security/questions-answers/ssa-disability-fast-track-decision/. May 6, 2020.
- Social Security Administration. “Appeal A Decision”, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/appeal.html. May 6, 2020.
- Social Security Administration. “Benefits for People with Disabilities”, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/. May 6, 2020.
- Social Security Administration. “The Appeals Process”, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf. May 6, 2020.
Please seek the advice of a medical professional before making health care decisions.
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Our objective is to provide expert legal services in an effort to maximize results for clients who have been injured through the negligence of others.