If you’ve been injured or become ill and unable to return to work due to a disability, you may have the right to Social Security Disability benefits. Contacting a Meadville, PA Social Security disability (SSD) lawyer can help you understand your rights and determine how to file your disability claim. For a free case evaluation, call Berger and Green today to speak with a Social Security disability lawyer at (412) 661-1400.
Types of Social Security Disability
The Federal Government’s Social Security Disability program provides monthly payments to disabled individuals under two different programs. Both are federally funded programs that are offered by the Social Security Administration for those people who are physically or mentally unable to work due to a disability.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
If you have been employed previously, you likely paid into the Social Security system in the United States through your work. These benefits are available to individuals who have earned wages and paid into the Social Security system for a minimum of 20 of the past 40 quarters. Additionally, in order to qualify for SSDI, you must be determined to be totally disabled. This qualification means that you are not able or capable of performing any job (not just your previous job) due to your disability.
SSDI will provide disability benefits to disabled persons, as well as to eligible family members. Any other income will not affect benefits, and where you live does not affect your benefits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Supplemental Security Income is for those individuals that are disabled and in financial need. Whether or not someone has paid into the Social Security system through prior employment does not matter. If a disabled person meets certain criteria, they will be considered to have a financial need great enough to qualify for this category.
SSI will provide aged 65 and older benefits, for a disability or condition such as blindness. None of these benefits under SSI will be provided to the family. If you receive SSI, other income may affect your benefits. Where you live (or who lives with you) may also affect your benefits.
Criteria to be Considered Totally Disabled
In order to receive Social Security benefits, you must be determined to be totally disabled. You must meet the following conditions to be considered totally disabled:
- Your disability is expected by medical professionals to last a minimum of one year or result in death.
- You are unable to do the work that you previously did prior to your injury or illness.
- You are unable to do any other type of work because of your current medical condition.
Why Social Security Disability Claims Are Denied
If you have attempted to file for a Social Security disability claim and were denied, you are not alone. Many Social Security disability claims are denied. If you attempt to appeal a decision, the chances of approval are even worse. Even if all of the information is correct, a disability claim can be denied. Some of the common reasons that disability claims are denied include:
- Too much income earned
- Disability is only temporary, instead of permanent
- Doctor’s orders were not followed
- Directions were not followed when filling out the disability claim
- Disability is based upon substance abuse, such as alcoholism or drug use
- Insufficient medical treatment records
- Disability is linked to a criminal conviction
One of the more common reasons that a Social Security disability claim is denied is due to substantial gainful activity. You must prove that the disability is so severe it keeps you from working. The term “substantial gainful activity” is used to determine how much work is too much to qualify for disability benefits.
Social Security Disability Hearings
If your disability claim is denied by the Social Security Administration, this is not the end of the process. It is important to realize that the majority of disability claims will be denied. You will receive a letter indicating that you have the right to a hearing in front of a Judge, and if there is sufficient time to do so, you can request the hearing. The Judge will review your medical information, related documents, and any other information that supports your disability claim.
These hearings are part of a multi-step process. The first step is the request for reconsideration, and most appeals are not approved at this stage. The second step is the hearing with the Office of Hearing Operations. This step is the one where you are most likely to obtain a reversal of the original decision to deny your disability claim.
Often, disability claims are approved during these hearings, as a Judge has a bit more discretion to make decisions and handle claims. The fact that a Judge can see and hear you as you present your evidence does affect the disability hearing and decision. You also have a right to an attorney present during these hearings and we recommend that you have an attorney because it increases your chances of succeeding.
Visit with a Meadville, PA Social Security disability (SSD) lawyer from Berger and Green at
(412) 661-1400 to determine if having an attorney at your side during these hearings would be right for your case.
Social Security Disability Timelines
If you have submitted all of the proper paperwork to the Social Security Administration, you should have a response of acceptance or denial within 1-6 months.
You only have 60 days to appeal if your disability claim was denied. Otherwise, you must start the entire process over from the beginning. There are very few exceptions to this rule.
Typically, the average is almost one year from the appeal request to have a Social Security disability hearing before a Judge.
Contact a Meadville, PA Social Security Disability (SSD) Lawyer
Social Security disability cases are complex and time-consuming. We can ensure the Social Security Administration has the appropriate information about your medical providers, and help you apply for disability benefits. We will advocate on your behalf and guide you through the Social Security disability claim process. If you have received a denial letter, we can help you work through your claim and stand with you during your Social Security disability hearing in front of the judge. We can help you understand your rights, and help you determine how to file your disability claim. Contact a Meadville, PA Social Security disability (SSD) lawyer from Berger and Green today at (412) 661-1400.