If you have a disability that interferes with your ability to work or earn a livable income, you may have the option to pursue benefits from Social Security Disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides these benefits under two distinct programs, each of which is designed to assist those in financial need as the result of a disability, blindness, or in some cases, advanced age. However, many applicants find the process of applying for benefits difficult, and even the slightest mistake can result in a denial.
If you received a denial letter from the SSA regarding your Social Security disability application, you might still have time to appeal the agency’s decision, and a Cranberry Township physical impairment lawyer can help. Contact Berger and Green right away at (412) 661-1400 to discuss your next steps with our legal team.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits Available
The SSA offers two disability programs, each with its own criteria and application process. Most beneficiaries receive payments from one program, but some are eligible for both. Beneficiaries of either program must have a qualifying disability as defined by the SSA that prevents them from doing most kinds of work.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
According to the SSA, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) functions as an insurance program for individuals who contributed to Social Security through their earned income before developing a physical or mental impairment prior to retirement age that prevented them from returning to work. This program benefits the qualifying individual and certain family members who are dependent on the beneficiary’s income. The SSA determines the amount beneficiaries will receive based on their wage history, so payments vary by person.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
The Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program benefits people who are blind, disabled, or aged 65 or older and have limited financial resources. Because it is paid for by general tax revenue and not through Social Security taxes, beneficiaries do not need to have a work history to qualify for SSI benefits. As of January 2021, the SSI monthly payment rates were $794 for an individual and $1,191 for a couple. However, many states, including Pennsylvania, offer state supplemental programs to provide SSI recipients with additional benefits.
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You May Qualify for One or Both Types of Social Security Disability
Unless you are blind or aged 65 or older and applying for SSI, your condition must meet the SSA’s definition of a disability to qualify for either program. The agency considers anyone who cannot participate in substantial gainful activity (SGA) because of a mental or physical impairment that is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death. SGA refers to a certain level of work and income that would deem a person ineligible for benefits. The SSA determines SGA on a case-by-case basis depending on whether you are self-employed or working as an employee.
While SSDI benefits rely solely on how much you paid in Social Security taxes prior to developing your disability, SSI eligibility is determined based on an applicant’s financial means. If you contributed to Social Security at work and have limited monetary resources, you may qualify for both SSDI and SSI. A Cranberry Township physical impairment lawyer can help you determine which programs you are eligible for and guide you through the processes.
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Some Beneficiaries Can Work and Still Qualify for Social Security Disability
In many cases, Social Security disability payments stop if a beneficiary is able to return to work. Under certain circumstances, though, recipients can still work on a limited basis and receive SSDI or SSI benefits simultaneously. SSDI and SSI recipients can both receive up to a certain amount of income per month from employment wages and still receive their benefits. However, SSI beneficiaries receive a reduced benefit rate if they earn more than $85 per month.
If you choose to work while receiving Social Security disability benefits, you must report all earnings to the SSA. If you feel that the SSA erroneously revoked or reduced your benefits based on your employment status, contact the legal team at Berger and Green right away at (412) 661-1400.
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A Cranberry Township Physical Impairment Lawyer Can Help You Appeal a Social Security Disability Denial
Unfortunately, the SSA denies most initial applications for Social Security benefits. If you received a denial letter, you have up to 60 days to file your appeal, so it is critical that you act as quickly as possible. Our lawyers can help you right away by going over your application with you and determining issues that may have led to your denial. We often find common problems that can be fixed, such as missing documentation or administrative errors. Once we have identified these issues, we can provide detailed information on the evidence you need to gather and help you take the next step.
The SSA requires that every appeal begins with a reconsideration, which involves submitting your initial application plus any new documentation you added after receiving your denial. Then, someone who did not play a role in making the initial decision will review all of the information and decide whether the denial should be overturned.
If your reconsideration does not end in the reversal of your denial and there is time to do so, our team will request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), which allows us to represent you and your case in person. ALJ hearings often take months to schedule. However, we can usually obtain approval at this stage, which may include back pay, and we will provide you with consistent support and updates throughout the process.
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Contact Berger and Green as Soon as Possible to Get Started
If you received a denial letter from the SSA after applying for Social Security disability benefits, you might still have the opportunity to appeal the decision if you act quickly. Navigating the appeals process can be difficult, but the lawyers at Berger and Green can guide you through each step and fight for the benefits you deserve. Contact us today at (412) 661-1400 for your free consultation with our legal team.
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