If you have been injured or are suffering from a medical condition that has left you unable to work, you may be entitled to compensation in the form of Social Security Disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. SSD benefits are provided to eligible workers who suffer from a qualifying disability or condition that is expected to keep them out of work for at least 12 months or end in death.
The SSD application process can be incredibly confusing for someone applying for benefits for the first time. Many applications are denied by the SSA due to an inadequate application. If you are applying for SSD benefits, let the experienced Lake City Social Security Disability lawyers at Jebaily Law Firm help you apply for SSD benefits or appeal the denial of your application.
People whose disabilities prevent them from being able to work may be entitled to one of two types of benefits from Social Security – Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Although some people may be eligible for both types of benefits, the programs have several significant differences between them.
Social Security Disability Insurance pays benefits to a disabled worker and certain close family members, provided the worker has accrued enough work credits – they have worked long enough and have paid Social Security taxes long enough to be eligible for SSDI. Unlike Supplemental Security Income, SSDI is provided to a disabled worker regardless of their assets and income.
On the other hand, eligibility for Supplemental Security Income is based on an individual’s financial situation. An individual must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of an “aged,” “disabled,” or “blind” person, and must have monthly income and financial resources that do not exceed certain limits. Unlike SSDI, SSI has no work history requirements.
In order to file for SSD benefits, you must first determine whether you are eligible for SSD. A person can receive SSD only if they are unable to work due to a disability or other medical condition that is expected to last 12 months or more or is expected to result in death.
Provided that you are 18 years old or older, have a qualifying disability or medical condition, are not currently receiving Social Security benefits, and you have not had a prior SSD application denied within the past 60 days, you may choose to file an application for SSD benefits online, or you may request a paper application from the Social Security Administration.
The SSA will evaluate your application for SSD benefits, first determining whether you are “working,” or earning an income above a certain monthly limit, which makes you ineligible for SSD benefits. The agency will also calculate your work credits to determine whether you meet eligibility requirements for SSD. The number of work credits you need for eligibility depends on your age.
The SSA will also determine whether you are suffering from a “severe” medical condition that prevents you from being able to perform your normal work activities and whether your condition is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
The SSA will also consider whether your disability or condition is on the list of conditions, or “impairments,” maintained by the SSA, which the agency considers to be severe enough to meet the definition of disabled. However, your condition may still qualify you for SSD benefits even if it isn’t on the list of impairments, provided the SSA finds that your condition is as severe as another condition on the list of impairments.
Finally, the SSA will try to determine whether you have any residual functional capacity, or an ability to perform your old job or any other type of work that exists in significant numbers in the national and local economy. If the SSA finds that you are still capable of performing some kind of gainful work, you will be deemed ineligible for SSD benefits.
The Social Security Administration maintains an expansive list of disabilities, or impairments, which may qualify an individual for Social Security Disability benefits. Examples from the list of impairments that can qualify a disabled work for SSD benefits include:
These and other conditions in the SSA’s list of impairments are considered sufficiently severe to qualify an individual for SSD benefits. However, an individual must also be found to lack the residual functional capacity to perform their previous line of work or other work available in significant numbers in the economy.
The Social Security Administration initially denies the majority of SSD applications it receives. In many cases, this is because an applicant submitted insufficient information (such as financial information, work history, or medical records) for the SSA to determine the applicant’s eligibility. Do not give up if your SSD application is denied. You may file an appeal and go on to receive benefits just like many other people have.
The first step in appealing a denied SSD claim is usually to request the reconsideration of your application. Because many applications are denied in the first instance due to insufficient information, in requesting reconsideration, you can submit additional information to bolster your application.
If your application is denied on reconsideration, you may further request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). A hearing before the ALJ functions much like a trial, in that you may bring witnesses and evidence to the hearing, who may be questioned by the ALJ. You or your attorney may also question other witnesses, such as medical or vocational experts, and make arguments to the ALJ in your favor.
If you receive an unfavorable decision from the ALJ, you can appeal to the Social Security Administration’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can deny a request for review if it believes the ALJ’s decision was correct. Otherwise, the Appeals Council will either decide the case for itself and affirm or reverse the ALJ’s decision, or return the matter to the ALJ for further review.
If you are still dissatisfied with the SSA’s decision, your last course of review would be to file suit in federal court.
If you or a family member are disabled and unable to work, you may be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability benefits. Contact Jebaily Law Firm to schedule a no-cost case evaluation with a Lake City personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and options. We’re happy to answer your questions about how we can help you successfully pursue the SSD benefits you need. Call or contact us online now for your consultation!