Social Security Disability (SSD) payments can be a crucial source of income for injured workers who can no longer earn a living. If you have a debilitating injury or illness that prevents you from working, you may qualify for benefits. A Waynesburg, PA, Social Security Disability lawyer with Berger and Green can file your SSD application and represent you during an appeal.
Who Qualifies for Social Security Disability?
Social Security Disability (SSD) is the term used for two distinct benefits programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA): Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Medical qualifications for the two programs are the same and require that you meet the SSA’s definition of a disability.
However, eligibility for SSDI depends on work credits earned through contributions to the Social Security trust fund from your wages or income. SSI is a needs-based program for disabled individuals with little income or financial resources.
For a free legal consultation with a social security disability lawyer serving Waynesburg, call 412-661-1400
Medical Conditions Covered by Social Security Disability
Your illness or injury must meet the SSA’s definition of a disabling condition to receive benefits. According to the SSA, your condition qualifies if:
- It prevents you from working. Your condition prevents you from working if you cannot earn more than the SSA’s substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. The SGA for 2022 is $1,350/month or $ 2,260 if you are blind.
- It is severe. The SSA considers your condition severe if it keeps you from performing work-related activities (walking, standing, lifting, etc.) for at least one year.
- It is in the Listing of Impairments. The SSA’s Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book, outlines the medical criteria for evaluating dozens of conditions under 14 categories of impairment, including endocrine disorders, immune system disorders, cancers, respiratory disorders, and cardiovascular disorders.
You can still apply for SSD benefits even if your condition is not listed in the Blue Book. The SSA will review your medical records and other documents to determine if your injury or illness prevents you from performing your previous job or doing another type of work.
If the SSA denied your SSDI or SSI claim because of a lack of medical evidence, our Waynesburg Social Security Disability lawyers can help you obtain additional documentation and medical testimony to support your appeal.
Waynesburg Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
SSD Work and Income Requirements
As mentioned, SSDI and SSI have different requirements when it comes to work and income:
SSDI Work Credits
In addition to having a qualifying medical condition, workers seeking SSDI must have enough earned work credits. You amass credits through taxes on your wages or self-employment income. In 2022, you earn one credit for every $1,510 in wages. You can earn a maximum of four credits each year.
In general, you need a minimum of 20 work credits (or five years of work) to qualify, but younger workers may need fewer, and older workers may need more. If the SSA denied your claim because of insufficient credits, our SSD lawyers in PA can help you provide more proof of your work history with your appeal.
SSI Income Restrictions
To qualify for SSI, you must have a disabling medical condition and limited income and resources. According to the SSA, income includes wages, unemployment, workers’ compensation, and other benefits. Resources include cash, bank accounts, personal property, and other assets you can convert into money for basic needs.
Our lawyers can assist with an appeal based on an incorrect evaluation of your assets.
Monthly Social Security Disability Payments
Monthly SSDI payments vary from case to case based on a worker’s number of earned work credits. However, the SSA reports that the average monthly payment across all workers was $1,234 in 2019. The 2022 federal monthly cap for SSI payments is $841 per individual.
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Applying for SSD in Waynesburg
You can apply for SSD online, on the phone, or in person at Waynesburg’s nearest SSA office. Before submitting your claim, you will need to gather evidence proving you have a qualifying medical condition, earned work credits, or meet SSI income requirements, including:
- Medical records
- Doctors’ notes and treatment reports
- Bloodwork and lab results
- X-rays, MRIs, and CT scan results
- A list of your current medications
- Contact information for treatment providers
- Banking information
- Work history
- W-2s or self-employment tax records
- Pay stubs
- Proof of workers’ compensation, settlements, and other benefits
- Birth certificate or proof of lawful alien status
- Military records
You can review the SSA’s Adult Disability Checklist for a full list of needed documents. Once you have gathered the required information and completed your application, our SSD attorneys serving Waynesburg can file your claim.
Our SSD Attorneys in PA Can Represent You During Your Appeal
Unfortunately, the majority of initial SSD applications receive a denial. In fact, the Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy states that as of 2020, the SSA denies 67 percent of claims, up 10 percent from 2010.
We can guide you through the appeals process, which has four steps:
- Reconsideration. Appeals must begin with reconsideration. During this stage, you can request a review of your case by an SSA official not connected with the original decision. Our SSD lawyers can look at your initial application and determine the reasons for denial. We can bolster your claim with new or additional medical or nonmedical evidence.
- Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If reconsideration is unsuccessful, you can ask for a hearing before an ALJ. The hearing can be done by phone, videoconference, or in person. We can represent you throughout this official legal proceeding, during which the Judge will review the evidence and hear testimony.
- Appeals Council review. If you disagree with the ALJ’s determination, you can request an online review by the SSA appeals council. Based on the evidence, the council may or may not grant your request. If the council does review your case, it will either make a new determination or refer it back to an ALJ for further action.
- Federal court review. This is the final stage of appeals, which involves filing a civil suit in federal court. If necessary, our Waynesville SSD attorneys can assist you with taking legal action.
You must begin the appeals process by filing a request for reconsideration within 60 days of receiving notice of the SSA’s initial decision. Do not wait too long to get started.
Berger and Green
Our lawyers can help you fight for the benefits you need to make ends meet.
Contact Berger and Green today for a free consultation. A member of our team can connect you with a Waynesburg, PA, SSD lawyer and tell you more about how we can put more than 40 years of legal experience to work for you.