Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are the two benefit programs that the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers qualifying Americans with conditions that prevent them from working and earning a living. These benefits may be available to you if you have a medical condition that has:
- Left you unable to work your previous job
- Prevented you from working other jobs
- Persisted for at least one year or is likely to cause your death
The vetting process required to get these benefits may seem extensive and complicated if you have applied or plan to apply for either of these Social Security Disability programs. If you would like to learn about how a lawyer could assist you in applying for disability benefits or appealing a denied claim, we may be able to help. Call a Lincolnton Social Security Disability lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, today for a free consultation.
Applying for SSDI or SSI Benefits
If you believe that you meet the above criteria, you may want to apply for benefits under one or more programs funded by the Social Security Administration. Some reasons why you may seek benefits could include:
- You have recurring medical costs related to your disability.
- You are unable to earn a living to support your basic needs.
- You have dependents who are harmed by your inability to work and earn a living.
- It is your right, if you qualify, to receive benefits under programs such as SSDI and SSI.
America has social safety nets for those who are unable to support themselves because of an illness or injury. If you fall into this category, it is your right to pursue disability benefits. With this in mind, applying for SSDI or SSI benefits—let alone obtaining them—is not always easy or straightforward.
Navigating the Claims Process
The Social Security Administration provides digital instructions for applying for such benefits. You could face several hurdles and concerns as you attempt to apply for SSI or SSDI benefits, potentially including:
- The language on the application forms is dense, confusing, or unclear.
- You are not sure how to gain access to the information required to complete your application.
- You do not have the mental or physical wherewithal to complete the application process.
- You are unclear about the precise information being requested or whether your answer will be adequate, and you are concerned that incorrect or missing information could result in a denied claim.
- You lack the necessary resources to obtain the information requested in the application.
Any concerns you have about your application being denied would not be unfounded. Data from the Social Security Administration shows that hundreds of thousands of SSDI benefit applications are denied—at least initially. Many applicants must rely on the appeals process to fight for and obtain the benefits they need to help them pay for their family’s basic needs.
An SSD Lawyer Can Guide You
In order to give yourself a better chance at obtaining SSDI or SSI benefits on your first attempt, or at all, it is important that you are able to fill out your application accurately. A lawyer may be able to assist you in filing your initial application and may also assist you with any follow-up actions that prove necessary, such as providing additional information, attending a consultative examination, or appealing a denial.
A Social Security Disability lawyer serving Lincolnton, North Carolina, at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, can tell you more about how we may be able to assist you in applying for SSDI or SSI benefits.
What to Expect When You Apply for SSDI Benefits
As you move through the process of applying for benefits through Social Security Disability Insurance, you may get a better idea of the benefits that you could be entitled to. There are a number of considerations that could impact the amount of benefits you may receive, such as:
- Your age at the time that you suffered a disability
- The precise nature of your medical condition(s)
- How severe your injury is determined to be
- What documentation you can provide in support of your medical condition
- Whether you have dependents you provide for physically, emotionally, and financially
There may be other factors that the SSA uses to determine your eligibility for benefits and the dollar amount of benefits you could be entitled to. According to the SSA, the average Social Security disability payment is $1,358 per month in 2022.
SSDI Eligibility Requirements
Such a benefit could make a significant difference in your life, especially if you are unable to earn income through other means. However, there are specific criteria you must meet to qualify. This includes:
- Having a qualifying disability based on the SSA’s Blue Book listing or your residual functional capacity
- Having enough recent work credits
- Earning wages, if any, below the current substantial gainful activity limit
If you are having difficulty filing a claim, anticipate difficulty filing a claim, have been denied benefits, or want to learn more about the claims process, a lawyer may be able to assist you.
What to Expect Filing an SSI Claim
The SSI maximum monthly payment is $841 for individuals and $1,261 for couples in 2022, according to the Social Security Administration. Like other states, North Carolina adds additional funds for some qualifying recipients under the State/County Special Assistance program.
While there are no work credits required for SSI, this program does have very strict asset and income limits. SSI was created to help those most at-risk meet their basic needs, such as heat, food, and clothing. Our attorneys can review your financial records to help you understand if you meet the criteria.
Occasionally, it is possible for an applicant to qualify for both SSDI and SSI. We can also help you understand if this may be a possibility for you.
A Lawyer Can Represent You Through the Application Process
The Social Security Administration allows SSDI and SSI applications to submit information through a representative, and you have the right to choose a lawyer as your representative. A lawyer from our firm may be equipped to serve in this role because:
- They are used to reading and understanding dense, text-heavy documents, like SSI and SSDI paperwork and regulations, in the course of their work.
- They are familiar with the process of applying for SSDI and SSI benefits.
- They may be able to understand and explain wording that could be confusing or easily misconstrued.
If you choose one of our lawyers to assist you in the SSDI or SSI application process, they may:
- Correspond directly with the SSA and other relevant agencies as your direct representative
- Obtain the medical documentation that is necessary or beneficial to your application for benefits, should you give them permission to do so
- Access your Social Security file if necessary
- Accompany and represent you in any in-person interviews or other processes necessary to complete the application or appeals process
A lawyer may serve the role of sounding board, legal representative, and administrative assistant as you aim to secure any benefits that you may need.
We Also Handle SSDI and SSI Appeals
Our Lincolnton Social Security Disability attorneys can also help claimants who applied on their own or with someone else’s help and now need to appeal a denial. Denials are common and occur in more than two-thirds of initial claims.
If you received a denial from the SSA based on your SSDI or SSI application, you only have a short time to act. Generally, you may have up to 60 days to begin an appeal. The appeals process has four steps:
- Reconsideration, when a new disability examiner takes a look at your file
- An Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) hearing
- An Appeals Council review
- Taking the case to the federal district court
Most strong applications with evidence to document a qualifying disability receive approval during the earliest steps of this process. We rarely need to go in front of the Appeals Council or to federal court, but we have the experience and knowledge necessary to do so if necessary to get your claim approved.
Frequently Asked Questions About SSI and SSDI in Lincolnton
We will need to speak with you over the phone or in person to review the specifics of your disability claim to determine whether you qualify for Social Security disability benefits and help you apply or appeal. However, before then, we can answer some basic questions about these benefits to help you decide how to proceed.
What Are the Differences Between SSI and SSDI?
Social Security Disability Insurance helps workers who become disabled and can no longer be gainfully employed. These workers must have earned a specific amount of work credits based on their age, which is done by paying Social Security through taxes.
Supplemental Security Income assists low-income people who are not old enough to work in gainful employment or cannot work gainful employment due to a disability.
How Long does It Take to Receive SSI or SSDI Benefits?
For SSDI, you must wait five months before you can start receiving benefit payments. After the five-month waiting period, you would receive benefits starting in the sixth month of your disability.
For SSI, your payments begin in the first full month after the SSA approves your application. Some individuals with specific disabilities might receive presumptive disability benefits while the SSA processes their SSI application. Those disabilities include:
- Amputation of more than one limb
- Total blindness or deafness
- Confinement to a bed with complete immobility
- Down syndrome
- End-stage renal disease (ESRD)
What if My Payments Are Delayed While I Need the Money?
Back pay refers to the benefit payments you should have received from the onset of your disability (for SSDI) or the application date (for SSI), barring any required waiting times. Depending on your disability and how long your application process took, you may be entitled to back pay if the SSA initially denies your claim but eventually approves it on appeal.
You typically receive back pay in a lump sum, though you may receive it in several installments if you have an SSI claim, depending on how much back pay you’re owed.
How Much Will a Lawyer Cost for My Social Security Disability Benefits Case?
We know that you and your family may be struggling financially as you seek Social Security disability benefits, especially if you cannot work due to your condition. That’s why we take many of these cases on a contingency-fee-basis, meaning you don’t owe anything unless we’re able to get you the benefits you’re entitled to receive.
We also offer free consultations so you can learn more about our approach to helping individuals and families recover much-needed Social Security disability benefits without having to commit.
Call Our Team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, Today
Applying for disability benefits of any sort can be a daunting, drawn-out process, and the SSDI and SSI benefit application processes are no exception. If you would like assistance with this process or need help with your appeal, contact our team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, today for a free consultation.