If you cannot work because of a disabling injury or illness, Social Security Disability (SSD) can provide a much-needed financial safety net. However, securing benefits can be difficult because many claims end with an unfavorable initial determination and go through appeal.
Fortunately, a Weirton Social Security Disability lawyer with Berger and Green can help you get the monthly payments you need and deserve. Our firm has more than 40 years of experience serving clients with severe and debilitating injuries, so we know what goes into a successful SSD claim. We will do everything in our power to protect your rights and get your benefits.
Do You Qualify for Social Security Disability?
SSD is an umbrella term for two separate benefits programs overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Both provide benefits for disabled individuals but have different baselines for eligibility:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). You qualify for SSDI based on work credits earned through Social Security employment contributions. “Insured” workers usually must have a minimum of 20 credits, which is five years of work. Younger workers may become eligible with fewer credits, and older workers may need more.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is for individuals with limited resources or income. You do not need earned work credits, but you must meet financial qualifications.
It is possible to receive SSDI and SSI concurrently, but you must apply for each program independently. Our West Virginia SSD attorneys can help you file the correct paperwork.
In addition to work and income, the SSA will also evaluate the following when making a determination about your disability benefits:
Do You Have a Severe Health Condition?
To satisfy the SSA’s definition of a disability, you must have an injury or illness severe enough to prevent you from doing a basic work-related activity (i.e., walking, standing, remembering information, persisting at a task) for at least 12 months. The SSA maintains a list of qualifying conditions in the Blue Book, which include, but are not limited to:
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Speech, hearing, and vision loss
- Chronic respiratory disorders
- Chronic heart failure
- Kidney and liver disease
- Blood disorders
- Bone marrow disorders
- Organ transplant
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Parkinson’s disease
- Personality disorders
If you have a health problem not contained in the Blue Book, you can still apply for SSD if you have medical evidence proving your condition is as severe as those included. In addition, you can and should apply as soon as your condition interferes with your work capabilities – you do not have to wait until you are out of work for 12 months.
Does Your Injury or Illness Prevent You from Earning Substantial Income?
As mentioned, your condition must prevent you from working. According to the SSA, this means you cannot perform substantial gainful activity (SGA), which is set at an average of $1,470 monthly in 2023. If the SSA believes you can earn this or more doing your current job or another kind of work, it will not approve your SSD application.
For a free legal consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer serving Weirton, call 412-661-1400
How Much Is Your SSD Claim Worth?
SSI benefit rates vary yearly based on financial indicators like the Consumer Price Index. As of January 1, 2023, it is set at $914 per individual per month. West Virginia does not offer a state SSI supplement.
SSDI benefits depend on your earned work credits, with more credits usually equaling a higher monthly payment. You can use the SSA’s Benefits Calculator to get an idea of what your claim may be worth.
Keep in mind that other sources of income and benefits you currently receive, such as workers’ compensation or veterans’ benefits, will affect your payments and eligibility.
Weirton Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 412-661-1400
What Documentation do You Need to Apply for SSD?
When filing an SSD application, you must supply various personal and financial documents and medical evidence of your injury or illness. This information may include:
- Birth certificate
- Proof of citizenship of lawful alien status
- Military discharge papers
- W2s or self-employment tax forms
- Medical records
- Lab test results
- Diagnostic imaging
- Doctors’ notes
- Treatment plans
- List of medications
- Pay stubs
- Settlement agreements
Our Weirton Social Security disability lawyers can identify the paperwork you need and file your application for you. We can also ensure the SSA has the information it needs about your medical providers. If your initial claim gets denied, we can review your application to understand why and file the necessary appeals.
Our Weirton SSD Lawyers Can Handle Your Appeal
As of 2020, nearly seven out of 10 SSD applications receive an unfavorable initial determination, according to the Social Security Office of Retirement and Disability Policy. If your claim falls into this category, we can fight for you. We can manage your appeal so you can focus your time and energy on your health.
Our attorneys can represent you throughout the following four stages:
- Reconsideration. We can figure out why the SSA denied your application and correct the error or collect and provide missing information. We can then ask for a review of your initial claim. However, this stage rarely ends in a reversal of the original decision.
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing. We can represent you during an ALJ hearing, which can occur in person, over the phone, or by video conference. This is an official court proceeding. Our lawyers can introduce evidence, question witnesses, and make a case for approving your claim.
- Appeals Council review. If you disagree with the ALJ ruling, we can ask for a review by the Appeals Council. The council determines if the Judge decided according to the law. The Appeals Council can reverse the ALJ decision, make its own determination, or refer the case back to a Judge.
- Federal court. If necessary, we can file a civil action in the U.S. District Court.
If the SSA denied your claim, do not wait too long to begin your appeal. You only have 60 days from receiving notice of an initial determination to request a reconsideration. From there, you have 60 days between each stage to move your claim forward if you remain unhappy with the outcome.
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Contact Berger and Green About Your SSD Claim in Weirton, W.Va., Today
Our Weirton Social Security Disability lawyers take cases on contingency, so we can help with your SSDI or SSI claims for nothing up front or out of pocket. Contact Berger and Green for a free consultation and learn more about how our SSD attorneys serving West Virginia can assist you.