- Expect to Wait on Your Disability Benefits Decision After You Apply
- How Do You Know When You Are Eligible for Disability Benefits?
- What We Do If You Get Denied When You Apply for SSDI or SSI
- Let Us Handle Your Pittsburgh Disability Appeal
You should apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and/or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) as soon as you suffer an impairment that is considered disabling and will prevent you from working. You don’t have to have experienced long-term career consequences to start the process.
Moreover, it can take a significant amount of time to get your benefits started, even if you receive approval of your initial claim. Just like with the application, you can talk to a Pittsburgh Social Security Disability lawyer as soon as you are diagnosed and realize you may need benefits.
Expect to Wait on Your Disability Benefits Decision After You Apply
When you can no longer work and have no other source of income, you can quickly find yourself in a financial crisis. SSD benefits can help lessen the impact of being out of work, so the sooner you file your disability claim, the quicker you get the process started to get the benefits you need and deserve.
Some information can make you think you need to wait. For instance, for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), there is a five-month waiting period, with payment provided in the sixth month. However, that doesn’t mean you wait five months to apply. On the contrary, because of the long application process and wait time, you want to get started right away.
In fact, the Social Security Administration (SSA) itself recommends applying as soon as you become disabled. Even if they approve you based on your initial application, that initial decision can take months, so don’t wait.
Denials Are Common
Most claimants do not receive approval of their initial application. This has even caused the misconceptions that everyone is denied the first time they apply. In reality, the SSA’s Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2021 found that denials for disability claims average at about 67 percent.
This means it’s likely that you must navigate the appeals process and fight for your benefits. This requires requesting a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge, and you might wait a year for this type of hearing. 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.
Our disability attorneys 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.
Keep in Mind the Time to Fill Out the Application Too
Even without the wait times and the possible denials, filling out an application to receive disability benefits takes time. You need to provide evidence like:
- Medical records like doctors’ contact information, scans or blood tests, and even the dates you received care
- Employment records showing where you worked and when
- Identity and citizenship records like birth certificates
- Income information like pay stubs, settlements, and assets
Our SSD lawyers can help identify the information Social Security Disability is looking for, but gathering the necessary records can take time.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
How Do You Know When You Are Eligible for Disability Benefits?
If your doctor diagnosed you with a permanent or long-term medical condition (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
In other words, you don’t have to be entirely out of work to seek benefits. Substantial gainful activity has income limits that change each year, so as long as you earn below that limit, you can qualify. Don’t wait until you’re already struggling financially to apply.
What If Your Condition Isn’t Listed?
Even if you do not meet the criteria under one of the Social Security Administration’s Blue Book impairment listings, this is no reason to put off applying.
If you can prove you can no longer work due to your condition, you may be eligible for benefits. This is often based on your residual functional capacity, which is your ability to perform types of work, like heavy labor or sedentary work. We can go over how to qualify for SSD if you don’t meet the Blue Book listing.
What We Do If You Get Denied When You Apply for SSDI or SSI
Unfortunately we do see clients who filed their application in a timely fashion but received a denial from the Social Security Administration. If this happened to you, we can file an appeal on your behalf.
The first step after an initial denial is a request for reconsideration. If you are denied at this stage, the next step is a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. Because it can be more than a year before your hearing, your condition may worsen during this time. When this happens, we can present the current medical evidence about your care during your hearing. This is how we build a strong claim for benefits.
The Appeals Process
If you receive a denial, you have 60 days from the date on the notice to file your appeal. If your application for benefits is denied, the next step is a request for reconsideration. If your claim is denied at reconsideration (most are), the next step of the process is to request an appeal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. A Social Security disability lawyer from Berger and Green can 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 be eligible to receive:
- Back Pay: This covers the 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.
- Retroactive Pay: 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. Contact our Pittsburgh office today for a free case consultation with a member of our team.