If you are disabled, you are not alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 61 million U.S. adults are living with physical or mental disabilities. The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers a safety net for disabled people, but the application process can be complicated. If you need help filing for a Social Security Disability (SSD) claim or appealing a claim denial, a Pittsburgh physical disabilities lawyer from Berger and Green may be able to help you.
Call the office at (412) 661-1400 for a free consultation with one of our representatives.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability
There are two kinds of benefits that fall under Social Security Disability: Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income.
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Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)
To qualify for SSDI, you must:
- Be disabled. Claimants must prove that their disability is so severe that it keeps them from working.
- Have worked a certain number of years. The Social Security Administration (SSA) translates each year you worked into a certain number of work credits. You will need to meet the minimum number of required work credits before you are eligible for SSDI. The older you are, the higher this number is.
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Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
To qualify for SSI, you must:
- Be disabled. The definition and criteria of “disability” is the same for SSI as it is for SSDI.
- Have a limited income. SSI is for people whose job and/or other benefits pay less than a certain amount.
There is no age limit for either SSDI or SSI. However, as stated previously, you have to have a specified number of work credits before you can qualify for SSDI.
Both physical and mental disabilities are covered by SSD, so long as the disability impedes your ability to work. This does not mean that you must be unable to work. If your job provides you accommodations that allow you to work, you may still be eligible for benefits (if you do not make above a certain amount).
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Applying for Social Security Benefits
Your first step is to put in an application. If the SSA denies your claim, you may appeal that decision. Both processes are described below.
The Application Process
In addition to submitting an application, you will have to provide the Social Security Administration with a lot of your personal history and information. They will use this information to determine the validity of your claim. Below is a partial list of the information you will need to provide. The SSA will need to know about:
- Yourself. Your birthdate, Social Security Number, and bank account numbers
- Your family. Your spouse’s information, marriage and divorce dates, and information about minor children
- Your employment history. Information about previous employers and the date your disability started to impact your work
- Your medical history. Contact information for the doctors you have visited and information about what treatments you have had
You also need to submit documentary evidence. This includes (but is not limited to) a birth certificate, proof of citizenship or immigration status, tax returns, and medical evidence. Your lawyer from Berger and Green inform you about what you need to put your application together. Call (412) 661-1400 to learn more.
The Appeals Process
Even if you provide all the required information and submit your claim correctly, you may still be denied. If this happens to you, you have the right to appeal the decision to the Social Security Administration.
There are several levels of appeals, so you have several chances to get your denial overturned. These levels are described briefly below.
- Reconsideration. You ask SSA to look at your case again
- Hearing. You ask an Administrative Law Judge to hold a hearing and make a new decision
- Appeals Council review. You ask the Appeals Council to reevaluate your case (they may rule on your case themselves, bump your case back down to another Administrative Law Judge, or refuse to review your case at all)
- Federal court review. You ask a federal district judge to make a final determination in your case
How a Pittsburgh Physical Disabilities Lawyer Can Help You
Berger and Green can help you with your claim, no matter what stage it is in. We can help you file or appeal your claim. We are prepared to:
- Fill out forms. We can either guide you as you fill out the application or review it for you to ensure there are no technical errors or missing information, if you have already filled it out. We can tell you if something is wrong and how to fix it when we do.
- Submit paperwork. Once your application is correctly filled out, we will send it in for you. We can also send in whatever supplementary documents you bring us.
- Appeal decisions. If the SSA denies your claim, you have 60 days to file an appeal. We can do this for you. Each level of appeals requires its own set of paperwork, all of which we can take care of.
- Represent you at a hearing. If the reconsideration results in another denial, we can request a hearing if there is sufficient time to do so. And you would not have to face the Administrative Law Judge alone; we will be there with you to argue your case and fight for the money you deserve.
- Pursue the case as long as necessary. No matter how long it takes or how many levels of appeals we have to go through, we are there for you.
We understand that applying for Social Security Disability can be confusing. You already have a lot on your plate, and putting yourself through a draining application process may seem like more effort than it is worth. But you deserve your Social Security Disability benefits, and we want to help you get them.
A Pittsburgh physical disabilities lawyer from Berger and Green would be happy to guide you and answer any questions you might have. If you live in western Pennsylvania or eastern Ohio, call us at (412) 661-1400 for your free consultation with a member of our team.