Social Security Disability (SSD) is a benefits program that provides financial assistance to people living with disabilities. If you or a loved one was in an accident or developed an illness that led to a partial or total disability, you may be eligible to file for SSD benefits.
If you live in Hickory, North Carolina, our team can help prepare your claim. A Social Security Disability lawyer here at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can guide you through the claims process and help gather materials to prove the validity of your disability. If you already applied for SSD benefits but were denied, our team can also help you navigate the appeals process.
There Are Two Types of SSD Benefits to Apply For
According to the Social Security Administration (SSA), there are two types of SSD benefits programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is funded by Social Security taxes, so this program pays benefits to people who have worked a certain amount of time relatively recently, thus making them “insured” by their contributions to the program. When an individual works a qualifying job in the United States, they earn work credits for this program. Self-employed workers pay into Social Security as a part of the income taxes, as well.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must have the required work credits and:
- Meet the SSA’s disability criteria
- Be at least 18 years of age but not older than 65
- Be a U.S. citizen
In general, you may have a qualifying impairment if you cannot work and earn the current substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit because of your condition, symptoms, or medications. You can learn more about qualifying conditions in the SSA’s Blue Book or by discussing your claim with our team during a free consultation.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program
The federal government funds Supplemental Security Income (SSI) through general tax revenues. This program is intended for people with limited income and resources. In some cases, people may qualify to receive both SSDI and SSI benefits, so our team can look into those options should you qualify.
Because of how this program is funded, there are no work credit requirements for SSI. As long as you meet the other qualifications, you may receive benefits through the program. To qualify for SSI benefits, you must:
- Meet the SSA’s disability criteria, be blind, or age 65 or older
- Meet the SSA’s income and resources requirements, which considers wages, benefits, and pensions
It is worth noting that your housing situation may affect your claim for SSI. In general, you do not have to have a permanent residence to receive benefits, although there may be limits if you live in a public shelter. The SSA does restrict or limit benefits for some who live in institutions. This includes hospitals, nursing homes, long-term care facilities, prisons, and jails.
To learn more about disability benefits, you can read the SSA’s online guide. Alternatively, our team can also explain which program you should apply for in a free consultation.
Our Team Can Help You File for Social Security Disability
Applying for disability benefits can be a complex process. If you decide to work with a Social Security Disability lawyer from our team, we can help prepare your claim and represent you as the case is being reviewed. Our team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, serves people in Hickory and surrounding areas in North Carolina.
Below are some of the legal services we can perform for you:
- Fill out applications on your behalf: We can help make sure all information on your application is accurate, honest, and complete.
- Gather evidence to support the claim: We can retrieve evidence, such as photos of your injuries and medical reports, to support your claim. If necessary, we can also request further medical evidence from your doctors, including specialists.
- Monitor the case and keep you updated: We can inform you of the progress of the case, including whether your application is accepted or denied. We can also advise you on decisions you may need to make as developments occur.
- File an appeal on your behalf: If the SSA denies the claim, we can help you appeal their decision and guide you through the appeals process.
- Present the case in hearings: We can present your case in administrative and federal court hearings if necessary, following a denial and unsuccessful reconsideration.
Our team is dedicated to helping you fight for the SSD benefits you qualify to receive, so do not hesitate to consult with a lawyer on our team about questions and concerns you have throughout your case.
Our Team Can Also Help Appeal a Rejected Claim for SSD Benefits
Many people who apply for Social Security benefits get denied, especially on their first attempt. It is exceptionally difficult to prove your case and show the Disability Determination Services examiner reviewing your claim that you meet the necessary criteria for either SSD program. This can be frustrating, but it does not mean you will be unable to get disability benefits.
Most people who apply for SSDI or SSI are not approved based on their initial claim. Instead, they receive approval by challenging the denial and taking additional steps to prove they qualify.
We can help you navigate the SSA’s appeals process, which has up to four levels of appeal types. You generally have 60 days after receiving a denial notice from the SSA to file an appeal; however, you may not have to go through all four appeal levels. If you are successful in getting approved at one of the first levels, there is no need to continue with the process.
Level 1: Reconsideration
The first level of appeal involves requesting reconsideration of your claim. A new administrator will review the claim with its original evidence, but you will also have an opportunity to submit new evidence if you have any.
There are two types of reconsiderations; one focuses on your medical information, and another focuses on your financial circumstances, such as your income and living arrangements.
Level 2: Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing
If the claim gets denied after being reconsidered, you can appeal and request a hearing from an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will review the case in a hearing, which can be done close to your home or via video if necessary. Many qualifying claimants are successful in getting their benefits approved at this stage but do not be discouraged if you need to continue the appeals process.
Level 3: Appeals Council Review
If the ALJ denies the claim, you can appeal again and request a review by the Appeals Council. The council will evaluate whether the ALJ’s decision was in line with Social Security law and regulations. If they believe your claim has merit, they may send it back to an ALJ for further review.
Level 4: Federal Court Review
If the Appeals Council denies your claim and you disagree with this decision, there is one final stage in the appeals process. You can opt to request a review from the federal district court, which involves filing a civil suit. The federal district court will review the case and determine whether you may collect SSDI benefits.
What Happens After I Win My Appeal?
After you win an appeal for your SSDI or SSI benefits, you will begin receiving monthly payments according to the current benefits schedule. You will likely also qualify for back pay. This covers from the date of your initial application until the date your cash benefits begin. We can ensure you receive the correct payment amount and an accurate check for your missed payments.
Back pay is generally paid as a lump sum for those on SSDI and as two or more separate payments for those on SSI. This is so you do not violate the limits set by SSI to qualify for benefits because of your back pay payments.
You may continue to draw benefits as long as you meet qualifications. Depending on your age, qualifying disability, and other factors, SSA may request to review your case every few years. Our team can help with this process, as well.
Call Now to Have Our Social Security Disability Team Review Your Case
Our team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can help prepare your claim for SSDI or SSI benefits or file an appeal if your claim was denied. Call our team for a free consultation and learn more about how a Social Security Disability lawyer from our team can help you in Hickory, North Carolina.