If you are unable to work because you suffer from a temporary or permanent disability, you might be entitled to certain government benefits. The funds from these benefits can help you pay your medical bills, mortgage or rent, and can even help you with the cost of your family’s basic needs, such as food and clothing.
However, the claims process is tricky and most initial applications receive denials. Do not let a simple mistake on your application stop you from receiving the benefits you deserve. Contact Berger and Green to speak with a Social Security disability (SSD) lawyer for help with a disability claim in Altoona. If you are eligible for benefits, we can help you complete your application and increase your chances of a favorable outcome. Contact us today at 412-661-1400 to get started.
Social Security Disability Benefits
The Social Security Administration offers two disability benefit programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both programs have strict eligibility guidelines and complicated application processes.
What is SSDI?
SSDI is a government-funded cash benefit program available to those who:
- have worked jobs covered by Social Security for the last 10 years; and
- suffer from a medical condition that meets Social Security’s definition of disability.
Since the program’s cash benefits come from the Social Security taxes you pay, you must establish you have paid enough into the system by providing a detailed job summary for the most recent 10-year period. The SSA’s work credit requirements go by your age:
- If you are under the age of 24, you must have worked at least 1.5 of the last 3 years.
- If you are between the ages of 24 and 31, you must have worked at least 3 of the last 6 years.
- If you are over the age of 31, you must have worked for at least 5 of the last 10 years.
Additionally, your medical condition must prevent you from working any job in the nation for at least 12 consecutive months. It is not enough that you are unable to find a job.
There could be other rules you must satisfy, but if you meet the basic criteria we list above, the disability lawyers at Berger and Green can help you apply for benefits.
What is SSI?
Supplemental Security Income is a needs-based program funded through general taxes, not Social Security taxes. Therefore, even if you do not meet the work history requirements of the SSDI program, you could still qualify for SSI. Monthly cash benefits are available to those who have little to no income and:
- suffer from a disability;
- are over the age of 65; or
If you would like us to evaluate your situation to determine whether or not you are eligible for SSDI or SSI benefits, we invite you to talk with a disability lawyer at Berger and Green. Your initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to hire our firm, even after receiving our professional opinion. Call 412-661-1400 to start your application.
How will I know if my medical condition meets the SSA’s definition of disability?
The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine if an applicant meets its definition of disability. Therefore, you should be prepared to provide answers for the following questions:
- Do you currently have a job? If you are currently working full time, you will likely not be eligible for disability benefits.
- What is your medical condition? Not every medical condition falls under the SSA’s Listing of Impairments. The Listing of Impairments classifies for each major body part the conditions the SSA’s considers severe enough to prevent an individual from working (also referred to as “substantial gainful activity”). If your condition does not appear on the list, it should not discourage you from applying for benefits. The disability attorneys at Berger and Green could gather evidence to argue your condition meets a combination of listings.
- How severe is your impairment? Even if your condition does not meet one of the program’s “listings,” you must prove your impairment is severe enough to prevent you from working. If you have only a mild medical condition, it may not suffice to qualify for disability benefits.
- Can you return to your former job? If you can perform the job you had before suffering a disability, the SSA will likely deny your application.
- Could you work any job in the nation? If you can perform a new job that is less physically or mentally demanding, the SSA will likely deny your request for benefits.
How can a Social Security disability attorney help me?
Some individuals decide to seek disability benefits without legal assistance. While applying on your own is acceptable, you should be aware that the claims process is a numbers game and many applicants are denied at the initial stage.
When you work with Berger and Green, you are protecting your rights and giving yourself the best possible chance for success. Our firm can help you avoid costly delays and even a wrongful denial by gathering all the information necessary to submit a complete and error-free application. We can also ensure you meet every request for additional evidence properly and adhere to the SSA’s filing deadlines, including any reconsideration requests and appeals.
Meet with a Social Security Disability Lawyer for FREE
We recognize the application process for disability benefits is time-consuming and frustrating. We also know many disabled and older Americans need these benefits to survive. Let us help you get the SSDI or SSI benefits to which you are entitled. Do not allow a denial to stand in the way of your financial security. Call us today at 412-661-1400 to learn how we can help with your Altoona disability claim.