Millions of disabled Americans who are unable to work depend on Social Security disability benefits to meet their basic monthly needs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains two disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) for disabled workers and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for blind persons and disabled children and adults with limited resources. Each type of benefit has its own criteria that applicants must satisfy.
If you are living with a disability that prevents you from working, speak to a Blair County disability (SSD) lawyer at Berger and Green, free of charge, to learn about the requirements for disability benefits and for help with the claims process. Call us today at 412-661-1400 and schedule a meeting at your convenience.
Do I qualify for Social Security disability benefits?
Getting approved for SSD is not easy. The SSA only awards disability benefits to people who are totally disabled. It does not offer benefits for partial disabilities. When claims examiners review an application for benefits, they use a five-step process for determining whether the claimant is disabled:
- Is the claimant engaging in substantial gainful activity? The SSA defines substantial gainful activity (SGA) as having an income over a certain threshold. In 2017, earning over $1,170 means you are engaging in SGA Your answer must be no to be eligible for SSD.
- Is the claimant’s impairment so severe that it interferes with basic work-related activities? Your answer must be yes to be eligible.
- Does the impairment meet or equal the severity of impairments in the SSA’s Listing of Impairments? You can find the list of conditions that the SSA deems as disabling in the Blue Book. Your answer must be yes to be eligible.
- Is the claimant able to perform the work s/he did previously? Your answer must be no to be eligible.
- Is the claimant able to adjust to and perform any type of work? Your answer must be no to be eligible.
In addition, you must meet certain work credit or financial requirements, depending upon which benefit you are applying for.
What types of disabilities qualify for SSD?
Many types of physical and mental conditions may qualify someone as disabled. Cancer, heart failure, cystic fibrosis, burns, and schizophrenia are just a few examples. The SSA categorizes the impairments that qualify as a disability by their respective body system. The 14 categories are as follows:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
- Immune System Disorders
Each impairment listed has severity criteria that the claimant must meet to qualify under that listing. Note, however, that meeting a listing is only one way to be determined as disabled. You also qualify as disabled if you have another condition or a combination of conditions that severely limits your capacity to work. The type of disability you have does not matter as much as the impact your condition has on your ability to work.
Non-listing level cases are a little more complex. If your disability does not fit a listing, we can explain in greater detail how to win benefits via a “medical vocational allowance.”
How much will my monthly SSD payments be?
The amount of your SSD benefits is contingent upon either your lifetime earnings (for SSDI recipients) or your current income (for SSI recipients). According to the SSA, the average SSDI monthly benefit in 2016 was approximately $1,166 per month. SSI recipients can receive up to $735/month.
Determining actual benefit amounts can get a little tricky. When you work with our firm, we will use the appropriate formulas to calculate your benefits so you know how much you should be receiving.
How can Berger and Green help with my SSD case?
Many people are not aware of just how valuable an SSD lawyer can be. There are a lot of ways we can help:
- Review your medical files and see if your condition meets the SSA’s definition of disabled.
- Help you with the required paperwork and forms.
- Make sure you meet the appropriate deadlines.
- Help the SSA gather medical and non-medical evidence to support your claim.
- Explain the claims process and keep you informed of the status of your case.
- File an appeal if the SSA denies your claim and represent you at any hearings.
- Ensure your award includes any back pay you are entitled to.
The SSA denies the majority of the claims it receives. Oftentimes, denials result from technical issues or insufficient medical evidence. Far too many people give up when they receive a denial. Your benefits are too important to give up without a fight. When you have one of our attorneys help you prepare your claim, we will make sure that your records meet the SSA’s strict guidelines and that there are no gaps in documentation.
With a disability attorney assisting you with the process, you have a much better chance at winning your claim. With over 40 years’ experience helping disabled people in and around Blair County, our attorneys at Berger and Green know how to successfully navigate the SSD system. We understand how important your benefits are to you, and we will advocate for your rights at every stage of the process.
Can I afford a Blair County SSD lawyer?
You will not have to pay any upfront legal fees out-of-pocket when you hire Berger and Green. We are only compensated when you win your benefits. Furthermore, the compensation that SSD lawyers receive for helping claimants is minimal and capped by the federal government. Lawyers’ fees are limited to 25 percent of the back benefits you are awarded, up to a maximum of $6,000. This is a very nominal amount compared to the benefits you will receive over your lifetime.
Call a Blair County SSD lawyer at Berger and Green to learn more about how we may be of service: 412-661-1400.