If you have a physical condition that interferes with your ability to work, you may qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, applying for disability payments can be complex, and many initial claims result in denials.
A Johnstown physical disabilities lawyer with Berger and Green can help you apply for SSDI benefits and strengthen your disability claim. We can also help you appeal a denied application.
What Is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability provides monetary benefits to individuals who cannot work because of an injury, illness, or physical disability. The Social Security Administration (SSA) oversees and administers two different disability programs:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) – This program is needs-based and provides benefits to disabled individuals who have little to no income or resources.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) – This program benefits people with enough “work credits.” Individuals earn work credits by working jobs that pay Social Security taxes.
How Much Does SSD Pay?
SSD benefits can make a big difference to individuals facing medical bills or struggling to make ends meet. According to the SSA, the average payment amount for all disabled workers at the beginning of 2019 was around $1,234 per month – enough to keep a recipient above the poverty line.
For a free legal consultation with a physical disabilities lawyer serving Johnstown, call 412-661-1400
Physical Disabilities That Qualify for SSD Benefits
Eligibility for both SSI and SSDI requires that you have a condition that is disabling.
You can find a complete list of qualifying conditions and medical criteria in the SSA’s Blue Book.
Some physical disabilities listed include:
- Hearing and vision loss
- Chronic respiratory disorders
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Chronic heart failure
- Chronic kidney disease
- Blood disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Immune system disorders
If your physical disability is not currently listed in the Blue Book, the SSA will still consider your claim. You can secure benefits if you can supply medical evidence and proof that your condition interferes with your ability to maintain gainful employment. Additionally, the SSA updates the Blue Book with new conditions every year.
You May Qualify for the Compassionate Allowance Program
The SSA has a Compassionate Allowance program that helps the agency quickly identify and award benefits to individuals with conditions so severe that they automatically meet SSD’s requirements. Your application qualifies for the program if you received a diagnosis for conditions including, but not limited to:
- Acute leukemia
- Adult-onset Huntington disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- Early-onset Alzheimer’s disease
Johnstown Physical Disabilities Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
You Must That You Have an Eligible Condition
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD) is the state agency tasked with determining if individuals qualify for SSD benefits. The bureau processes more than 145,000 disability claims every year. To qualify for payments, you must:
- Have a disability that prevents you from performing substantial work
- Have a condition that has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months
- Have enough work credits (for SSDI)
- Meet low-income requirements (for SSI)
To prove you meet these requirements, you will need to submit evidence and documentation with your application, including:
- W-2 forms and tax returns
- Pay stubs
- Proof of settlement agreements, workers’ compensation benefits, or other sources of income
- Medical records
- Doctor reports
- Laboratory test results
- X-rays, MRIs, and other diagnostic imaging results
Substantial Gainful Activity and Work Credits
As mentioned, your ability to perform substantial gainful activity (SGA) will affect your SSD claim. The SGA per month limit for 2022 is $1,350. If you can still earn above the SGA with your disability, you may not qualify for benefits.
If you are seeking SSDI benefits, the SSA also considers your work credits. According to the SSA, the amount of income per work credit is $1,510 for 2022. You can earn up to four credits per year. In general, you need a minimum of 20 work credits (roughly five years of work) to qualify for benefits.
Our Johnstown Disability Lawyers Can Assist with Your Application and Appeal
Applying for SSD benefits requires carefully and comprehensively completing your application. It is easy to make mistakes or fail to provide adequate information, which is why so many initial applications get denied.
When you partner with Berger and Green, we will:
- Help you file for disability benefits
- Look for reasons the SSA denied your claim
- Identify and fill in gaps in your medical evidence, work history, or personal information
- File your appeal
- Represent you throughout the appeals process
Stages of an Appeal
You have the right to appeal the SSA’s decision if it denies your application. The appeal process has four steps:
- Reconsideration – We can file a request for reconsideration by a party not involved in reviewing your initial application. You must make this request within 60 days of receiving the SSA’s determination.
- A hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) – If you disagree with the reconsideration, we can file for an ALJ hearing and represent you during the proceedings. We can conduct the hearing via phone, video conference, and in-person. There is also an SSA Office of Hearings Operations (OHO) in Johnstown at 334 Washington Street––convenient for those in the area.
- Appeals Council – You have 60 days after hearing the Judge’s decision to file an appeal with the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may approve your claim or send your application back to an ALJ for review.
- Federal court – You can file a civil action in United States District Court if you disagree with the Appeals Council or it refuses to review your claim.
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Berger and Green Is Ready To Fight To Secure the Benefits You Need
If you need assistance securing SSD benefits, our Johnstown physical disabilities lawyers can fight for you. We understand that applying for benefits can be complicated, and facing an appeal can be daunting.
We have helped thousands of clients with Social Security Disability claims. Call us for a free case evaluation to find out more about our services and how we can represent you with no upfront fees.