The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two programs that provide benefits to disabled individuals. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits can help you pay for basic living costs. If you need financial assistance and qualify for one or both programs, the team at Berger and Green can help you apply for benefits or appeal a denial of benefits.
The applications for either program may seem challenging, and you may feel more comfortable knowing someone can answer your questions and review your forms. An Ellwood City Social Security disability lawyer from our firm can help you at various stages of the process. If the SSA denied your claim, we can also help you request an appeal.
We can ensure that the SSA has the appropriate information about your medical providers and your condition. Contact our office by calling (412) 661-1400.
Who Qualifies for Disability Benefits
You may qualify for one or both Social Security Disability benefit programs depending on your finances and professional history. Each program has different requirements to enroll, but you must meet the SSA’s definition of disabled.
The Code of Federal Regulations §404.1505 defines disability for adults as being unable to substantially earn, work, or perform duties of a job for at least 12 months. If you are still working but earning below the substantial gainful activity guidelines, you may still be able to get benefits, so do not let this deter you from consulting with us.
The disability must have lasted at least 12 months, or medical professionals expect the condition to last for a minimum of 12 continuous months. The SSA also counts conditions that can lead to death.
There are many factors involved with evaluating disabilities, and the SSA makes determinations based on medical paperwork, examinations, and application details.
Although both programs are available to applicants with disabilities, the SSDI and SSI programs have different applications and other requirements for eligibility.
For a free legal consultation with a social security disability lawyer serving Ellwood City, call 412-661-1400
Eligibility for Social Security Disability Insurance
Social Security Disability Insurance works very similarly to Social Security retirement benefits. You must meet the work requirements to be eligible for SSDI benefits.
After you earn a certain amount, you gain one work credit with the SSA. This amount increases each year to keep up with inflation. In 2020, for instance, you earn a credit for each $1,410 you make up to four credits a year, as outlined by the SSA.
At 20 credits—or after approximately 5 years—you are eligible for disability. However, you might still be eligible for benefits with fewer work credits depending on your age. For example, you can qualify for SSDI payments if you are younger than 24 years old and earned six credits in the three years before becoming disabled.
The government can deny or delay your claim if you do not submit the information that proves you are eligible, or if your information was incorrect or incomplete. An Ellwood City Social Security disability lawyer at Berger and Green can help you appeal a previous denial of benefits. Call our team now at (412) 661-1400.
Ellwood City Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
Eligibility for Supplemental Security Income
You do not have to be an insured worker to be eligible for benefits from the Supplemental Security Income program, and you do not need a specific amount of credits to obtain payments.
The SSA offers SSI payments if you have a financial need and are blind, 65 years of age or older, or have a qualifying disability. Living abroad, your residence in a prison or public institution, and your citizenship or immigration status will also determine your ability to receive benefits.
Since your finances play a huge part in determining your eligibility, you will need to share information about your earnings and other assets. Resources that the SSA counts include cash, bank funds, investments, property, and vehicles. The SSA will exempt $2,000 from your total resources if you are single or $3,000 if you are married.
Disability Claim Stages
You must apply for Social Security disability benefits and prove that you are eligible to receive them. The process can have multiple stages if your application is denied.
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Initial Application for SSDI or SSI Benefits
You can apply for SSD benefits as soon as you become disabled. In addition to the application, you will need to submit medical information and other documents that prove you have a qualifying disability and a financial need. After the SSA reviews your claim, they will mail you a notification of their decision if you are approved for benefits or if your application is rejected.
Appealing a Denial of SSD Benefits
If the SSA denies your claim for benefits, you have the right to appeal the decision. You must request an appeal within 60 days of your claim denial. In your appeal, you have the opportunity to present additional evidence you did not include with your application. The appeal process has a few steps you can take.
- Reconsideration – A representative from the PA Disability Determination Services will review your appeal request. This person is someone who did not look at your initial application. They will make a decision based on your initial and updated claim information and mail you a letter.
- Hearing – Should the SSA or the PA Disability Determination Services deny your appeal, you can request a hearing if there is sufficient time. You may submit additional evidence, or the agency may request more information before the hearing. An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will look over your claim at the hearing and may ask you questions about your condition and financial situation, when applicable. You can have an attorney represent you at the hearing or at any stage of your case. The Judge will send you a written decision on your case.
- Appeals Council: This step occurs after the hearing if you do not agree with the ALJ’s decision. The SSA will still send out letters regardless of their ruling.
- Federal Court: This phase involving a federal district court is the final level of appeals.
An Ellwood City Social Security disability lawyer from our firm can make sure the SSA has the appropriate documents and information about your disability and medical providers. You do not have to stress about handling this process all by yourself.
Call our team at Berger and Green at (412) 661-1400 to speak to someone about appealing a denial of disability benefits. We are ready to help you seek the benefits you need.