If you suffer from an illness or injury that prevents you from working, 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. The Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyers at Berger and Green have years of experience representing claimants for disability benefits in the Johnstown area.
If you are deciding whether it is time to apply for disability benefits or have recently received a denial you can speak with the team at Berger and Green. We offer free evaluations of your claim.
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:
- Heart disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Back, hip, and knee problems
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 $1,350 a month in 2022. 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 your condition meets their definition of a disability. 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.
For a free legal consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer serving Johnstown, call 412-661-1400
What Other Qualifications Must I Meet To Receive Social Security Disability?
Both Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) have specific criteria you must meet.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have a condition that keeps you from working and “engaging in substantial gainful activity” for a year or longer. The substantial gainful activity threshold typically changes each year.
You must also have earned enough work credits over a certain period. 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 (10 years) to qualify.
To receive SSI benefits, you must be blind, disabled, or over 65 as well as have limited income and few assets. The income limits typically change each year.
Johnstown Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
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 throughout 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 not give up. The majority of claims are denied.This situation is not uncommon, and you do have the right to appeal this denial. Applications may be denied based on:
- Lack of evidence
- Clerical errors (either yours or the SSA’s)
- Misplaced paperwork
- Majority of applications are denied by the SSA
Secondly, you can always enlist our help at any time. The appeals process for Disability benefits can be complicated, and you may want to have someone on your side who can ensure all deadlines are met and evidence that supports your claim is submitted to the Social Security Administration.
We can guide you through the appeals process, which generally follows these steps.
We can request reconsideration if your application is denied. This request sends your Disability claim back to Disability Determination Services and requires the committee to take another look at your qualifications. Members of this committee cannot include those who reviewed your initial application.
If you are again denied at Reconsideration, you can appeal the denial and request a hearing 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. You may find it much less stressful with a Disability lawyer from Berger and Green at your side.
If the ALJ denies your claim, you can ask for an Appeal Council Review. The Appeals Council can:
- Deny your request for a review
- Make a decision about your case
- Return your case back to an Administrative Law Judge
Federal District Court
The final step in the appeals process is the Federal district court. You can file civil lawsuit in Federal District court and argue that the Social Security Administration has wrongly denied you benefits by:
- Presenting evidence in your favor
- Explaining why the SSA’s denial is unfounded
- Possibly bringing in witnesses to testify on your behalf
If you have been denied benefits, it is understandable to feel disappointed and frustrated. Fortunately, an initial SSDI denial does not mean it is the end of the road for you. Our team represents claimants at every stage.
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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.
- Meeting the SSA’s definition of disabled; and
- Having extremely limited income and limited access to financial resources; and
- Being a citizen or eligible resident of the United States
We can tell you more about the key differences between SSDI and SSI, and which type of benefit you should apply for.
What Disability Cases Do Berger and Green Take?
Our law office is proud to be able to help Johnstown, Pennsylvania, residents apply for SSDI, SSI, or even both types of benefits. We assist our clients with their applications in the following ways.
- Carefully reviewing all of the paperwork you give us
- Pointing out any error (e.g., the wrong form or a missing response) that could lead to a denial
- Help you apply for benefits
- Ensuring you meet all deadline for appealing a denial
- Representing you at all hearings and meetings throughout the appeals process as necessary
We know how stressful this situation can be and how much you need the money you are seeking. In addition to the legal tasks outlined above, the team at Berger and Green can make your legal experience easier by:
- Assessing your case over the phone at no cost or obligation to you
- Deferring all attorney’s fees until after you get your money
- Charging no attorney’s fees at all if you do not get benefits
- Responding to all of your questions promptly and to your satisfaction
- Advising you of the pros and cons of each option available to you
Our team has over forty years of experience in helping clients understand and navigate the Disability claims process. We are always happy to be able to apply that experience to new clients who want assistance with this critical but often complex procedure.
How Can Berger and Green Help Me?
The SSA has a very strict definition of disability 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 understand what the SSA wants to see in a claim and can help you build the strongest possible case for approval.
To learn more, contact our office today. As always, you pay no up-front fees until we help you secure your benefits.