According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), more than one out of every four 20-year-olds will become disabled before reaching retirement age. Whether due to illness or injury, people who develop physical disabilities that impact their ability to work may be eligible for Social Security Disability. A Cranberry Township physical disabilities lawyer can help you determine if you are eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability program and ensure that SSA has sufficient information about your medical providers.
If you may qualify for disability benefits due to physical disabilities, the attorneys and staff at Berger and Green may be able to assist you. We can help you apply for benefits that you need to support yourself if your disabilities are so severe that they keep you from working. You can call our office at (412) 661-1400 and learn more about the process of applying for Social Security Disability.
Social Security Disability Program Benefits
If you suffer from physical disabilities that prevent you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits. Two different kinds of benefits are available from SSA: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
You can receive monthly SSDI benefits if you meet the following requirements:
- You have a disability that makes you unable to work and is severe enough to last at least one year or result in death; and
- You have worked recently enough and long enough to make you eligible for benefits, based on your age and the onset date of your disability.
The amount of SSDI benefits that you will receive if you are eligible for this program depends on how long you worked and how much you earned during specific periods of your working life. In other words, you must have paid a sufficient amount of Social Security taxes to be insured and therefore qualify for SSDI.
The SSI program provides benefits to disabled individuals with limited income and resources. Individuals who qualify for SSI have not paid enough Social Security taxes to be insured and receive SSDI. SSI provides a monthly payment that is designed to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
Proving Eligibility for Social Security Disability
Proving eligibility for Social Security Disability depends on various factors, including your work history, job training and education, and your medical condition. The first question is whether you currently are working. If you currently are working and earning more than $1,310 per month, you generally do not qualify for disability benefits.
If you are not working or earning more than $1,310 per month, SSA will consider whether your medical condition is “severe,” or whether it significantly limits you from doing basic work or activities for at least 12 months or likely will result in death. SSA then examines whether you can do the type of work that you did before or if you can adjust to another type of work with your existing medical condition. If you have a severe medical condition that will result in an inability to work for at least one year or death, and you cannot do your previous work or another type of work, then you may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits.
Call (412) 661-1400 today to discuss your situation with a member of our team.
Stages of Your Disability Claim
Although some people start receiving disability benefits after SSA approves their initial application for benefits, most people must go through an appeals process first. There are three stages to the appeal processing following the denial of an initial application for Social Security Disability.
Applying for Social Security Disability
You begin the process of getting Social Security Disability by completing an application with SSA. To complete your application, you must provide SSA with certain information, including:
- Basic identifying information for yourself and your family members
- Information about your employer for the current year and the previous two years, as well as any self-employment income you had
- List of your medical conditions and diagnoses
- Contact information for any doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers who have treated you for your medical conditions and have medical records concerning your conditions
- The types of jobs that you held for the 15-year period before you became disabled
- Information about your education and job or vocational training
If you receive a denial of your initial application for disability benefits from SSA, you have the right to appeal that denial. You generally must file your appeal with SSA within 60 days of the date that you receive a denial letter from SSA.
Once you file an appeal with SSA, your claim goes through the reconsideration process. During this stage of the appeals process, a different person will consider your application for disability benefits; this person will be someone other than the person who originally reviewed your application for eligibility. Upon reconsideration, SSA will consider all the evidence that you previously submitted with your initial application, plus any new evidence that you have. Once your reconsideration is complete, you will receive another decision about your application.
If you receive another denial of your claim from SSA after reconsideration, you can further appeal that decision by asking for a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is not any of the same SSA employees who reviewed your application, either initially or upon reconsideration. The hearing is generally held within 75 miles of your residence, and you typically can appear at the hearing in person or by video. You will receive notice of the date and time of your hearing, along with instructions that explain the hearing process. Your lawyer will appear with you at your ALJ hearing and help you through the hearing.
We Are Here to Help
Applying for Social Security Disability following an injury or illness that leaves you disabled can be a challenging process. A Cranberry Township physical disabilities lawyer can help you through the steps necessary to claim disability benefits. The attorneys and staff at Berger and Green can ensure that SSA has all the information that it needs to fully evaluate your application for benefits. Contact our offices at (412) 661-1400 to learn more about what we can do to help.