If you suffer from an illness or injury that prevents you from holding a job, we understand that the bills may be piling up. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a range of benefits for those who suffer from a health condition that restricts their ability to work.
While filing for these benefits seems like a fairly simple process, it rarely is and denials are not uncommon. Fortunately, you do not have to navigate it alone. A Social Security disability (SSD) lawyer at Berger and Green can simplify the process for disabled people in the Johnstown area.
Give us a call to set up your free consultation today: 412-661-1400.
Does my condition qualify as a disability?
To determine whether your condition qualifies as a disability, check if it is in the SSA’s Blue Book. The Blue Book is a listing of commonly disabling impairments and the criteria you must meet to qualify as disabled. The Blue Book’s 14 categories of disabilities include dozens of conditions such as:
It is important to note that just having a certain condition does not mean you meet the SSA’s definition of disability. In addition to meeting the severity criteria under your condition, you must also prove:
- Your condition makes it impossible for you to engage in “substantial gainful activity.” (Essentially, you cannot work and make more than $1,170 a month in 2017. This includes work in your career field and other fields).
- Your condition must have lasted or be expected to last a year or longer or result in your death.
Note: If your condition does not appear on the list, you might still be able to qualify. It is up to Disability Determination Services (DDS) to determine if you suffer from a true disability under SSA rules. This requires proving that your condition is so severe that it keeps you from working in any job in any field.
Unless you understand how this process works and what they are looking for, it is often difficult to get the disability benefits you need. Our team will go over your case to determine whether you have enough evidence to prove you are disabled.
What other qualifications must I meet to receive Social Security Disability?
In addition to proving that your medical condition limits your abilities and qualifies you as “disabled,” you must also meet work requirements before you can draw Social Security benefits.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have earned enough work credits over a certain period of time. The amount of credits you need depends on your age. For example, if you are 50 years old, you must have 20 work credits out of the last 40 quarters to qualify.
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How can I find out my Social Security disability benefits amount?
The Social Security Administration calculates disability payments on a case-by-case basis. The total amount you can receive monthly relies on a formula that includes your average earnings over the course of your lifetime.
You can learn more about your benefit amount by using the Social Security Administration’s benefit calculators.
What can I do if the SSA denies my benefits?
The first thing to remember if you receive a denial notice is to stay calm. This situation is not uncommon, and you do have the right to appeal this denial.
Secondly, it is time to enlist our help. The appeals process for disability benefits can be complicated, and you will want to have someone on your side who can ensure your application gets the review you need to begin drawing benefits as soon as possible.
We will guide you through the appeals process, beginning with requesting reconsideration if that is appropriate for your case. This request sends your disability claim back to Disability Determination Services, and requires the committee take another look at your qualifications.
While this may seem like a pointless step, it is often effective in getting approval because the reconsideration committee must include someone who did not view your initial application.
If Disability Determination Services upholds the first decision after reconsideration, or if reconsideration does not apply to your case, you can appeal the denial and go before an administrative law judge (ALJ) in the Social Security Office of Disability Adjudication and Review.
While many people gain approval at this step, you do still have options if the ALJ upholds the initial decision. However, going through the entire appeals process is difficult, expensive, and time-consuming.
Fortunately, an initial SSDI denial does not mean it is the end of the road for you.
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What is Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
If you did not qualify for SSDI benefits, you might have another option: Supplemental Security Income. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a type of Social Security benefit available to people with an extremely limited income and net worth.
- Being 65 years old or older, or disabled; and
- Having extremely limited income and limited access to financial resources; and
- Being a citizen or eligible resident of the United States
How can Berger and Green help me?
The SSA has a very strict definition of disabled and a very complicated process you must go through to meet that definition.
Berger and Green can help you navigate the Social Security disability claims process, including any necessary appeals if you suffer an undue denial. We make it our mission to ensure our clients get the maximum amount of benefits they deserve. We understand what the SSA wants to see in a claim, and will help you build the strongest possible case for approval.
To learn more, call our Johnstown office at 412-661-1400 today. As always, you pay no up-front fees until you secure your benefits.