Berger and Green provide end-to-end services to individuals who had their disability benefits application denied by the Social Security Administration (SSA) or first-time applicants unfamiliar with the applications and appeals process of the different disability benefits programs.
With over 40 years of experience representing disability benefits applicants, our Cortland social security disability lawyer understands the common mistakes and pitfalls that result in claims being denied. Let us put our extensive experience to work to help improve your claim’s chance of being approved.
Cortland Social Security Disability Attorney Will Fight to Win Your Claim
Denials are a common occurrence with social security disability claims. It could be that the applicant did not meet SSA’s requirements, or the examiner did not think the disability was severe enough to qualify for benefits or inhibit their ability to work. It could also be that some mistake was made during the application process, which resulted in the rejection.
A Cortland social security attorney can help you to appeal the decision. Attorneys with a focus on Social Security applications, appeals, and hearings have vast experience assisting deserving individuals in obtaining disability benefits. Here is an overview of some ways an attorney will fight to bring your claim to a successful outcome:
- Verifying your eligibility for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
- Filling out SSI or SSDI applications and submitting any supplemental documents as required
- Double-checking to ensure all forms are filled out accurately
- Identifying the reason for denial
- Filing an appeal within the specified time limit
- Preparing you for the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing and representing you in court
- Handling communications with SSA representatives
- Providing you with legal guidance about your rights and options
For a free legal consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer serving Cortland, call 412-661-1400
Your Options Regarding Disability Benefits
The SSA operates two disability programs — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both are aimed to provide financial assistance. A Cortland Social Security Disability attorney can explain in detail which program matches your situation after discussing your case.
- Social security disability insurance: SSDI offers monthly income replacement benefits to individuals who cannot perform any Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) due to a qualifying physical or mental disability that’s expected to last at least a year or is expected to be terminal.
To be eligible, you must have contributed to the program through Social Security taxes and worked long enough to have accumulated enough work credits. The average monthly benefit in 2022 is $1,358, but the specific amount you receive will depend on your average lifetime earnings.
The benefits are paid till you reach retirement age, after which your retirement benefits will kick in and replace SSDI.
- Supplemental security income: SSI benefits are designated for those who are disabled and earn a limited income (less than $1,350 a month in 2022) and possess few assets. Senior citizens may qualify for SSI even if they do not have a disability but meet the SSA’s financial criteria.
For those under the age of 65, you must show that you have a qualifying disability that prevents you from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA).
What Is Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)?
SSA uses SGA to describe a level of income that can be earned and still qualify for disability benefits. The income limit for 2022 is $1,350. This means that if you are working and making above the specified income threshold, SSA will not process your disability claim. An attorney can review your employment history and income to determine if you are a good candidate for SSI or SSDI.
What Is an SSA Qualifying Disability?
SSA uses five factors to determine if you have a qualifying disability:
- The disability must impede your ability to engage in SGA.
- Your condition must significantly hinder your ability to do basic work-related activities, such as sitting or walking for a prolonged time.
- Your condition should be mentioned in the Blue Book, a collection of medical conditions that SSA deems severe enough to affect a person’s ability to perform SGA. You may still qualify if your ailment is not present in the Blue Book if there’s enough evidence to prove that your condition is as severe as the impairments found in the book.
- The disability must prevent you from doing your past work.
- The disability must prevent you from doing any other type of work.
You must meet many criteria to become eligible for SSDI and SSI. Our team at Berger and Green is ready to sit down with you and discuss your needs and qualifications to decide on the next best steps.
Cortland Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
Social Security Disability Lawyer Can Help Seek Approval for Your Denied Claim
Sadly, denied claims are the norm rather than the exception for the majority of SSD benefits applicants. If your application is rejected, don’t lose hope yet. SSA has a multi-stage appeal process available that an attorney can use to appeal the denial and give your application another chance to achieve a successful outcome.
If your initial application is denied, here is an overview of the SSA’s appeals process that a Cortland social security disability lawyer can assist you with:
- Request for Reconsideration: This is the first stage of the appeals process. If your initial application is denied, an attorney will likely request another full review of your claim under a new Determination Disability Services (DDS) examiner who was not involved in the first review. The examiner will look at all the information in your file and any fresh evidence to offer a new decision.
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing: If the new DDS examiner denies your claim again, a social security disability lawyer will likely submit a request for a hearing before an ALJ, who is an attorney that works for SSA. Your attorney can then build and present your case before the Judge and prepare you to provide a confident and persuasive testimony about the extent and severity of your disability.
- Appeals Council: If the Judge denies the claim, a lawyer will likely request the Appeals Council to review your case and uphold, modify, or revise the ALJ’s decision. They may also forward your case to another ALJ to evaluate your claim further.
- Federal Court: If all avenues of appeal are exhausted, and the claim still isn’t approved, your attorney can then file a lawsuit at the federal district court on your behalf.
Contact Berger and Green Today
Berger and Green can help manage your Cortland disability benefits claim. If you have any questions concerning issues related to denied claims or applying for disability benefits, we want to hear from you. Our team at Berger and Green can handle disability applications, appeals, and hearings for residents in and around Cortland.
In your initial consultation, we will discuss your case and inform you of your rights and options pertaining to disability benefits. Do not hesitate to contact us today to schedule a free consultation with our team.