If you or a loved one have a medical condition, disability, or impairment that prevents you from working, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits. The process of filing for benefits and appealing the initial decision if it is unfavorable can be a long and difficult challenge, but you do not need to face it alone.
A Wilkinsburg, PA Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer can help you pursue the compensation to which you are entitled. Call Berger and Green today at 412-661-1400 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a member of our team.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability Benefits
To receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, you must meet the Social Security Administration (SSA)’s definition of disabled. This means that you must demonstrate:
- That you have one of the impairments listed in the SSA’s Blue Book at the appropriate severity rating or have a different impairment that prevents you from working.
- That you can establish your condition using verifiable medical evidence.
- That your impairment’s duration is expected to persist for at least one year or result in your death.
- That you are unable to engage in substantial gainful activity, which is defined as earning more than a certain amount of money per month.
The general categories of impairments that the SSA recognizes include:
- Musculoskeletal System
- Special Senses and Speech
- Respiratory Disorders
- Cardiovascular System
- Digestive System
- Genitourinary Disorders
- Hematological Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Endocrine Disorders
- Congenital Disorders Affecting Multiple Body Systems
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Immune System Disorders
If your disability or impairment is not categorized above, you may still qualify for disability benefits if it prevents you from working. A Wilkinsburg, PA Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer can help you determine which next steps might be appropriate for you given the specifics of your disability or impairment.
Different Types of SSD Benefits
There are two different kinds of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI benefits are intended for disabled workers who have already paid into the Social Security system, while SSI benefits are for disabled individuals who have limited income, assets, and work histories.
Work Requirements for SSDI
The eligibility requirements for SSDI differ depending upon your age:
- Age 23 or younger: You must have worked at least 1.5 of the last three years
- Age 24 to 30: You must have worked for three of the last six years
- Age 31 or older: You must have worked for five of the last 10 years
An attorney who understands the difference between SSD and SSI can help you determine which program is appropriate for your situation and offer guidance on how to claim the benefits you deserve.
Applying for SSD Benefits
You must formally file for SSD benefits to begin the process of having the SSA evaluate your claim. After you have filed your claim, the SSA will thoroughly investigate your disability, medical records, work history, and other aspects of your case before rendering an initial decision on whether you qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Receiving an Initial Letter of Denial
If you receive a letter of denial after your initial application, do not be alarmed. The vast majority of initial applications are denied. Fortunately, receiving a denial letter does not mean you will not be able to receive SSD benefits in the future. An SSD benefits lawyer can help you file an appeal within the appropriate deadline and attempt to secure the benefits you deserve at reconsideration or a hearing.
Appealing Your Letter of Denial
You have 60 days to file an official request for a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) after you receive your letter of denial. If you miss this deadline, you will have to start over with a new application. Not only is it slower to restart the process, but it also means you could miss out on any back pay you may have been due when you do secure the benefits to which you are entitled.
A Wilkinsburg, PA social security disability lawyer can represent you at your ALJ hearing, which gives us a chance to present additional evidence before an impartial judge who has the final say on the matter. A successful outcome will result in your SSD benefits being granted, often along with back pay to cover the benefits that should have been paid while you were appealing your case.
If we are unable to prevail at the ALJ hearing, our team will discuss any further legal options that may be available to you afterward.
How an SSD Lawyer from Berger and Green Can Help You
Our team has a deep understanding of how SSA works. We can help you apply for benefits and ensure SSA has the appropriate information about your medical providers. We also know how long it takes to get a decision on your SSD claim and can help you understand what to expect at every step in the process.
If your initial claim is denied—and more than 60 percent are—our team can help you file an appeal and fight for your rightful compensation at your hearing.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one are disabled and unable to work, a Wilkinsburg, PA Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer may be able to help. Call Berger and Green today at 412-661-1400 for a free, no-obligation consultation.