If you recently applied for Social Security disability benefits in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania and received a denial letter, your quest for benefits is not over – it is just beginning. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers applicants a lengthy appeal process, one that gives you many opportunities to provide additional evidence and have your denial reversed. At Berger and Green, a Mount Lebanon Social Security disability lawyer can help disabled workers in the area win the benefits they deserve. We want to put our resources to work for you.
Berger and Green’s top values are honesty, transparency, and communication, and we see our clients as extended family members. The outcome of your appeal is as meaningful to us as it is for you, and we never collect a fee until you receive benefits. We want to take the time to get to know you and understand your situation. To speak with a member of the Berger and Green team today and receive a free disability consultation, call us now at (412) 661-1400.
Appealing Your Social Security Disability Denial
The Social Security appeals process has several stages. The important thing, though, is that you must initiate the process within 60 days of receiving your initial denial. If you have already received this letter, make sure you speak with an attorney as soon as possible so that you can start your appeal before the deadline passes.
The stages of the disability appeals process are:
The Reconsideration Stage
The reconsideration stage is exactly like it sounds – a request for the SSA to reconsider its decision to deny your application. This is the step you must take within 60 days of getting denied. Along with your request for reconsideration, you can submit as much additional evidence and documentation as you feel you need. It is impossible to make too good of a case or supply too much evidence that your disability is legitimate. Berger and Green can help you put together a compelling reconsideration request. You must wait until you receive a decision on your reconsideration request to go to the hearing stage.
The hearing stage has the highest success rate of any part of the appeals process. This is because it is the only stage where you have the opportunity to plead your case in front of an actual person, one who has sole decision-making authority. This person, called an administrative law judge, or ALJ, is a Judge specially appointed by the SSA to hear disability appeals. Berger and Green will help you prepare for your hearing and will be with you every step of the way.
The appeals council reviews claims that were denied by ALJs at the hearing stage. The council has three options – they can approve the claim, overriding the ALJ’s decision; they can deny the claim; or they can send it back to the ALJ, asking them to take a second look.
Finally, if the appeals council also denies your claim, you can file an appeal in federal court. Few applicants make use of this option, however, due to the time involved.
Social Security Disability Qualifications
To qualify for Social Security disability, you must meet the qualifications. The SSA sets certain medical and non-medical eligibility requirements to receive benefits. The medical requirements are the same no matter which disability program you are applying for, while the non-medical requirements are quite different.
The medical requirements are the same whether you are applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You must prove to the SSA that you are fully disabled. By the SSA’s definition, that means that you are unable to sustain full-time gainful employment that allows you to earn above the poverty line. Unlike with VA benefits, there is no such thing as a partial Social Security disability.
Social Security Administration has many different disability programs. SSDI and SSI have very different non-medical requirements, which pertain to your income and assets. To receive SSDI, you must have sufficient work history as well as an adequate history of payroll tax contributions. The program requires you to have paid into the system because it is set up like an insurance company. Your payroll taxes serve as premiums that fund the program, and only those who have paid their premiums are eligible to file claims and recover benefits.
SSI is a much different program. It is set up as a means-tested benefit program. It, therefore, has no work history requirements but is restricted to applicants with demonstrated financial needs, as evidenced by an income and total assets that fall below certain thresholds.
Berger and Green will review your medical records and financial information to determine which disability program, SSDI or SSI, you have the best chance of receiving. A Mount Lebanon Social Security disability lawyer can help qualified people get approved for at least one of the two programs on a non-medical basis. We have also had a few clients whom we have been able to help get approved for both.
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Call (412) 661-1400 for a Free Mount Lebanon Social Security Disability Consultation
Berger and Green is eager to get to work on your disability appeal today. For a free consultation with a Mount Lebanon Social Security disability lawyer or member of our team, call us now at (412) 661-1400.