You should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as soon as you suffer an impairment that prevents you from working. This is important because it can take a significant amount of time to get your benefits started, even if you receive approval of your initial claim.
Expect to Wait on Your Disability Benefits Decision
When you can no longer work and have no other source of income, you can quickly find yourself in a financial crisis. The sooner you file your benefits claim, the more quickly you get the process started to get the benefits you need and deserve. Even if the Social Security Administration approves you based on your initial application, that initial decision can take months or longer.
Denials Are Common
Most claimants, however, do not receive an approval of their initial application. This means they must navigate the appeals process and fight for their benefits. This requires requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. You might wait a year or more for this type of hearing.
And in some cases, the hearing is not successful, and you must move to the next step in the appeals process, delaying your benefits even longer.
This is the main reason we recommend filing your claim as soon as possible. We know it can be difficult to make ends meet when you cannot work. Getting the Social Security Administration to approve your claim as quickly as possible is vital for many of our clients.
Knowing When You Are Eligible for Disability
If your doctor diagnosed you with a permanent or long-term impairment (meaning it will likely last at least a year or is terminal in nature), you may be eligible for disability. You can apply when:
- You can no longer work; or
- You can work but cannot maintain substantial gainful activity
There is no reason to put off applying, even if you do not meet the criteria under one of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book impairment listings. If you can prove you can no longer work due to your condition, you may be eligible for benefits based on your residual functional capacity.
The process to get approved is never quick or easy, so we recommend filing your claim as soon as you are eligible.
What Happens If You Get Denied
Sometimes, we see clients who applied as soon as possible but received a denial from the Social Security Administration. They call us, and we file an appeal on their behalf. Because it can be more than a year before the appeal hearing, their condition may worsen during this time. When this happens, we can present the current medical evidence about their care during their hearing. This may allow us to get their denial overturned and benefits started quickly.
The Appeals Process
If you receive a denial, you have 60 days from the date on the notice to file your appeal. In Pennsylvania, the first step of the process is to request an appeal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. We can file this appeal for you and represent you during your hearing. We will collect all the evidence necessary to try to prove your claim and get you the benefits you need and deserve.
Understanding Back Pay and Retroactive Pay
If we are successful with your appeal, there are two types of additional pay you may receive.
- Back pay covers the time period between the time you initially filed your claim and when the Social Security Administration approved you for benefits, minus the five-month waiting period. If the Administrative Law Judge determines you became disabled after you initially applied, back pay may not be available.
- If you waited after you were eligible to apply for SSDI, you may qualify for retroactive pay. This retroactive pay covers up to 12 months before you filed your claim, depending on when your impairment first qualified you for disability benefits.
Let Us Handle Your Pittsburgh Disability Appeal
The disability lawyers from Berger and Green can help you fight a denial and try to get you approved for the benefits you need and deserve. We may even be able to help you file a personal injury lawsuit if your impairment stems from an injury caused by another party’s negligence.
Call our Pittsburgh office today at 412-661-1400 for a free case consultation with a member of our team.