The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides Americans with social insurance to supplement their incomes, including retirement, survivor, and disability benefits. The Social Security disability programs, in particular, assist those with certain disabilities who cannot earn a livable wage because of their condition. Unfortunately, the SSA does not make it easy for those who need benefits to access them, and the complex process often lasts months or even years for those who receive denial letters, even if they qualify for benefits.
If you need assistance filing for Social Security disability or the SSA rejected your initial application, a New Kensington Social Security disability lawyer can help you determine what you need to move forward with your claim and guide you through the process. Contact Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400 to start working with our legal team on your appeal.
Determining if You Qualify for Social Security Disability
The SSA currently runs two major Social Security disability programs, both of which require recipients to meet specific medical and financial qualifications. Social Security disability is completely separate from Social Security retirement, which the SSA provides to retired American workers as an income to those who paid Social Security taxes throughout the course of their working lives. Social Security disability, on the other hand, offers both disabled workers and those who do not have a work history benefits to help make up for the losses they suffer as a direct result of their disability.
Types of Social Security Disability
The SSA Red Book provides detailed information for applicants and beneficiaries of both Social Security disability programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each program has its own qualifications and application process, although some individuals may qualify for both programs.
SSDI provides benefits to people who became disabled before retirement age but paid Social Security taxes on their income while they were able to work. The amount an individual can receive depends on the amount they paid in; according to AARP, the average SSDI income in 2020 is $1,258 per month.
SSI provides financial benefits for basic needs such as food and clothing for individuals and qualifying couples who are disabled or aged 65 or older. SSI benefits do not come from Social Security taxes but from general revenue, so recipients do not need to have worked to receive SSI. As of 2020, individuals could receive $783 per month and couples could receive a maximum of $1,175. However, many states, including Pennsylvania, offer supplemental SSI benefits to recipients. A New Kensington Social Security disability lawyer can determine if you qualify for SSDI, SSI, or both.
Criteria Applicants Must Meet to Qualify
The SSA defines disability as a physical or mental medical impairment that prevents an individual from participating in substantial gainful activity (SGA) and is either expected to last more than 12 months or result in death. SGA refers to work an individual does that is completed for pay, usually performed for pay, or intended for a profit. While those who receive Social Security disability benefits may still be able to work, they must not exceed SGA thresholds based on their condition and the type of benefits they receive.
To qualify for SSI, an individual must be 65 years of age or older, blind, or disabled according to the SSA’s definition. They must also have very limited income and resources and be a resident of the United States. Those who work while receiving SSI may receive reduced benefits, although the SSA makes an exception for the blind.
SSDI qualifications include meeting a certain number of work credits as a result of the individual and/or their spouse paying Social Security taxes over a certain period of time. They must also meet the SSA criteria for disability, which prevents them from engaging in SGA. If they do choose to work while receiving benefits, they must not make more than a certain amount per month or they may lose their SSDI benefits.
For a free legal consultation with a social security disability lawyer serving Kensington, call (412) 661-1400
The Social Security Disability Appeal Processes
Applying for Social Security disability programs involves gathering an extensive list of sensitive information, such as work history, bank account details, and medical records. Applications are lengthy, and it can be difficult to notice if you may have made a mistake. The SSA regularly denies applications for SSI or SSDI on both a medical and non-medical basis. In fact, the SSA reported that between 2001 and 2010, more than half of all applicants received denial letters.
If the SSA rejected your disability application, a New Kensington Social Security disability lawyer can establish why the SSA denied you benefits, ensure your qualification, and determine the documentation and information you need to file an appeal. You only have 60 days from the receipt of your letter to begin the appeals process, so you must get started as soon as possible. Call Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400 for your free case evaluation with our legal team.
Requesting a Reconsideration
The first step all applicants who wish to appeal must make is requesting a reconsideration. This involves the review of your application by someone who was not involved in making the initial decision. They will consider all the evidence you submitted initially plus any new evidence, and you do not have to be present.
Scheduling a Hearing
Unfortunately, the reconsideration process does not typically result in an approval, but there is another step you can take to appeal your denial. You or your lawyer can ask for an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing, in which you or your lawyer can make your case in person to the ALJ, who then uses the evidence presented to reconsider and come to a conclusion in your case.
ALJ hearings often take months or even more than a year to schedule, and our lawyers cannot rush them. However, we often achieve approval and back pay at this stage and will guide you through the entire process from start to finish.
Kensington Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me (412) 661-1400
Contact Berger and Green for Assistance with Your Social Security Disability Appeal
Filing for Social Security disability benefits involves a long and complicated process that makes errors easy, and the SSA often rejects applications for even minor mistakes. At Berger and Green, our lawyers can explore your case to prove your eligibility and ensure you have the correct information to follow through with your appeal, which we can manage on your behalf. Call our legal team today at (412) 661-1400 to get started on your Social Security disability appeal.