If you or a loved one is currently living with a disability, you may be eligible to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. The government funds SSD benefits to help people living with permanent injuries, chronic conditions, and other medical problems when they cannot maintain steady employment.
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, our Social Security Disability lawyers understand how the Social Security Administration (SSA) reviews applications and can help you apply for benefits if you qualify. A Rutherfordton Social Security Disability lawyer from our team can help you with your case.
A Social Security Disability Lawyer from Our Firm Can Help You Build Your Claim
Whether you are just entering the application process or have already received a denial, a Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm in Rutherfordton can help you:
- Apply for Social Security Disability benefits that you qualify to receive: We listen closely to each client’s story and determine which type of benefits they should seek, which may save them a great deal of time and confusion.
- Help you fill out the application for benefits so that the forms are accurate: The SSA is very strict and may deny your claim for even a minor error. By letting us handle all the paperwork, you reduce the chances of such a denial.
- Submit evidence to support your claim: Failing to submit sufficient evidence is grounds for a denial. We will aim to help you prove all aspects of your claim – from medical history to work experience – the first time.
- Inform you of your options if your application is denied: If you are denied benefits, you have options, but it is important to act quickly. We can walk you through the appeals process.
- Represent you at Social Security Disability hearings: During the appeals process, SSA representatives will hear your case. We can attend these meetings with you or on your behalf, helping you present your case in the best way possible.
- Understand the application and appeals process: This is a very complicated endeavor. We encourage clients to call us whenever they need explanations or reassurance about their case.
If you are considering filing for SSD benefits, you do not have to undertake this task alone. Our law firm helps people in need fight for the disability benefits they are entitled to collect.
Not Sure If You Can Afford a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Many incoming clients are concerned about being able to afford attorney’s fees. However, you do not have to worry about paying anything upfront if you work with our law firm.
We do not collect attorney’s fees unless we win your case. Also, we take our percentage out of retroactive benefits you win, so you never have to pay us out of pocket for attorney’s fees. We will discuss our client-attorney agreement terms in your first consultation, which is also free of charge.
There Are Two Types of Social Security Disability Benefits You May Pursue
Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to apply for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI is for anyone who:
- Has worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes
- Has a disability that will last for at least 12 months and that keeps them from working
- Is a child whose disability started before they were 22 years old and has a parent who receives Social Security Disability or Social Security retirement or is deceased
- Is married to someone who draws Social Security Disability and meets other speciic requirements
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is for disabled applicants who have limited income and resources. Even applicants who are not disabled may be able to get help from SSI. According to the SSA, applicants must be at least one of the following to qualify for SSI benefits:
- Over retirement age
- Blind or visually impaired
SSI can offer assistance for basic necessities, including food, water, shelter, and clothing.
Can You Apply for Both SSDI and SSI Benefits?
Depending on your situation, you may be able to file for both of these benefits concurrently. A Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm can evaluate the evidence you provide and determine which benefits program applies to your case.
SSDI Benefits Require that You Gain Enough Work Credits to Qualify
For every year that you work, you gain “work credits.” The SSA defines this element of your application as “based on your total wages or self-employment income for the year.”
Earning Work Credits
Individuals can earn up to four credits for each year they work. However, the amount of earnings they might make can vary each year. Qualifying for SSDI requires you to earn a minimum number of work credits within a specific number of years preceding your filing to qualify for benefits.
When you work with a Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm in Rutherfordton, they can explain in further detail how your work credits apply to your situation and include those details in your application.
You Must Have a Condition that Keeps You from Working
The SSA outlines conditions that the agency recognizes as disabling. SSR 82-52 notes that, to qualify for benefits, you must prove you have a disabling condition that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity (SGA). Your disability must last for at least 12 months or ultimately result in your passing.
The disability for which you are claiming may fall under one or more of the following sections:
- Issues of the musculoskeletal system, including spinal stenosis or injuries that will not heal
- Respiratory disorders, including asthma or cystic fibrosis
- Various cardiovascular diseases
- Deafness or hearing impairments
- Skin problems, including dermatitis or severe burns
- Genitourinary disorders, including kidney disease or complications stemming from it
- Hematological disorders, including sickle cell disease or bone marrow failure
- Digestive disorders, including liver or bowel diseases
- Endocrine disorders, including issues of the pancreas, thyroid, or other glands
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems
- Neurological disorders, including epilepsy or cerebral palsy
- Mental illnesses, including schizophrenia or depression
- Cancer, if you experience debilitating symptoms or if it is expected to be terminal
Please note that blindness and visual impairments are treated differently from other disabilities. It is important to be aware of these differences before you file.
Your Claim Should Include Relevant Information
When you are filling out your application for benefits, you will need to include information that reflects on your:
- Work history going back 15 years and including when you stopped working at your last job
- Physical and mental health, both in general and pertaining to the disability in question
- Income, including what you currently make per month and what you used to make before you became disabled
- Marital history and current marital status
- Military history, if you served in the armed forces any time up to 1968
- Citizenship or residency status to prove that you are in the U.S. legally
- Medical evidence (e.g., medical reports, medications, imaging scans, and test results) to prove that you are suffering from a condition that qualifies as a disability
- Relevant witnesses (e.g., your doctor) who can confirm the information in your application
- Tax information for the past year
- Your birth certificate, as well as the birthdates of all of your children
- Any other benefits you are currently receiving from the state or federal government
In essence, the SSA wants to know every detail about virtually every aspect of your life. Collecting enough information to satisfy the SSA in all of these areas can take a lot of time.
The team at Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC knows how and from whom to request this information. This knowledge can grant you peace of mind during this challenging time; as one former Social Security Disability client, Debbie, said, “Andrea made me feel very comfortable… She is very thorough and kept me well informed of what to expect.”
Our Legal Team Can Help You If Your Application Is Denied
Unfortunately, despite compelling evidence, many initial claims for SSI and SSDI benefits are denied. In some situations, the denial can be attributed to a small error made when filling out the application. In others, you may be asked to provide additional evidence supporting your condition and work history.
When you work with Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we understand how discouraging these setbacks can be. Still, you have legal options.
The Appeals Process
Generally, you have 60 days from the date of your application’s denial to file an appeal. If you are denied, our team encourages you to act quickly.
According to the SSA, the appeals process is as follows:
- Reconsideration: An official who was not involved in the first determination will review your application.
- ALJ hearing: If your application is denied even after reconsideration, you can file an appeal with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), who also had no part in the original decision. You will have the opportunity to appear in court to explain your situation.
- Review by the Appeals Council: If your application is still facing denial, the Appeals Council can choose to rule in your favor, rule against you, or send your case back to an ALJ for further review.
If, after these steps, you are still facing denial, you may be able to take your case to federal court. Our team acknowledges that the denial phase is a lengthy and involved process. For that reason, you may not want to undertake these legal proceedings alone.
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC Today
If you become disabled, it can be difficult to maintain financial independence. A work injury or car accident can cause permanent disabilities, while chronic medical and mental health conditions can likewise impact your ability to work. A Social Security Disability lawyer from our firm in Rutherfordton can help you pursue SSDI or SSI benefits.