If you are unable to work after an injury, unexpected medical condition, or workplace accident, it can be challenging to pay your bills and remain financially independent. Without an income, monthly living expenses in Spartanburg, SC, can become unaffordable, which is why Social Security Disability benefits may be worth exploring.
At Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, we understand how complicated applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits can be. A Spartanburg Social Security Disability lawyer from our legal team can review your eligibility, suggest program options that may be right for your situation, and help you apply. Regardless of the details of your situation, our legal team can help you through the SSD filing process every step of the way.
How Our Law Firm Can Help You Apply For SSD Benefits
You may currently be unsure about how to start the SSD application process, or you may be dealing with a denial. In either situation, our Social Security Disability attorneys can help. We can thoroughly review your application for any inaccuracies or missing information, help you file for the appropriate program, and aid you through the denial process, if necessary.
Our team can help you navigate the complexities of the application process for Social Security Disability benefits. When you hire us, we will review your application, and we can:
- Explain what information is needed to apply
- Check to make sure the answers you provide are complete and accurate
- Consult with a third-party medical professional who can offer an opinion about your condition
- Represent you in any hearings or interviews you have
- Update you regularly about your application’s progress
- Explain how laws apply to your case and answer your questions
It can help to have a legal representative working on your behalf throughout these proceedings. Any omissions or mistakes in an SSD application may only lengthen the process, leaving you without the benefits you need. Hiring a disability attorney from our team can also be beneficial because if the SSA denies your claim, we can guide you through the appeals process.
What Programs And Benefits Are Available?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two primary disability programs that issue monthly cash benefits to recipients. If your application is approved, you may be able to receive additional non-cash benefits, such as health insurance.
In the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, you and your specific family members receive benefits if you worked long enough, recently enough, and paid Social Security taxes out of your income. In contrast, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program offers benefits to both adults and children who are disabled and have limited income and resources.
To Qualify For SSD, You Must Have A Qualifying Disability
To qualify for benefits, you must include information in your application proving your disability prevents you from working. The SSA is looking for specific evidence from an acceptable medical source to show the existence of impairment. Proving your disability requires documents such as:
- Recent medical records, including any surgeries or medications
- Your medical history
- Mental health records
- Hospitalization records
- Vocational rehabilitation assessments
- Your work history
- Documentation to show you are unable to work
There are many misconceptions regarding Social Security Disability benefits, including the idea that your disability must be a lifelong affliction, which is not always the case. Your disability must impact your income for at least 12 months or result in your passing. However, if you want to apply for benefits and then reenter the workforce at a later date, that is also an option that may be right for you.
Reentering The Workforce While On Disability
As we will discuss later, the SSA has strict income requirements for Disability applicants. If you make more than a certain amount per month, you cannot receive benefits. This makes it difficult for those who feel they might be able to work but cannot afford to risk their benefits.
Fortunately, the SSA has instituted a program called Ticket to Work to assist those people. Ticket to Work allows:
- Almost everyone on Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income has the chance to go back to work if they want to do so
- Disability beneficiaries to find a job or start their own business without risking their Disability benefits or any other type of benefits they may receive
- Disability beneficiaries to build their way up to becoming self-sufficient employees to the point where they no longer require benefits
There is no cost, risk, or obligation associated with the Ticket to Work Program. If it does not work out for you, you can quit the program and continue receiving benefits.
The ‘Blue Book’ Can Help You Determine Your Eligibility For Benefits
The SSA provides a resource called the “Blue Book,” which lists the physical and mental conditions that the SSA views as disabling or an impairment. Examiners for the SSA use the Blue Book as a tool for determining eligibility for SSD. Conditions currently in the Blue Book meet the description of disability for purposes of SSD. However, you may still receive SSD benefits even if your condition is not named in the Blue Book.
When determining whether you are eligible for benefits, our Social Security Disability attorneys in Spartanburg will take into account your medical condition and help you determine if the agency recognizes it as a disability. Additionally, we can determine what steps you may need to take if your condition is not listed as a disability.
You will likely want to apply for benefits as soon as you become disabled. According to the SSA, if your application is approved, you will have to wait through a five-month period from when your disability started before you can receive benefits.
General Application Guidelines For Social Security Disability Benefits
When you apply for Social Security Disability benefits, you will need to establish through the evidence you provide that your disability is so severe that it keeps you from working.
Another widespread misconception is that SSA will disqualify you from applying for benefits if you are currently working. According to the SSA, you can have a job, but it cannot qualify as “substantial gainful activity.” Therefore, you are allowed to work, even with reasonable accommodations, as long as you make less than a certain amount.
For example, in 2022, to qualify for benefits, you must be:
- Making less than $2,260 gross per month, if you are blind
- Making less than $1,350 gross per month, if you are not blind
If you are applying for benefits, the details of your situation will determine what program best applies to you. When you work with our Spartanburg Social Security Disability lawyers, we can help you determine the right program and provide helpful information about how your income may impact your benefits if you are currently working.
Applying For Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
During the normal course of employment, you are subject to mandatory tax withholdings. These contributions fund the SSDI program, which is a benefit that largely depends on your work history.
You must meet specific requirements to receive SSDI benefits. These include having:
- A minimum number of work credits (the more hours and years you work, the more work credits you can earn)
- A certain amount of recent work history
- A valid Social Security number
- United States citizenship (however, several exceptions to this requirement exist)
Determining How Many Work Credits You Will Need
The number of work credits and length of work history you need varies depending on your age. The younger you are, the fewer work credits you will likely need to qualify for SSDI. According to the SSA, the minimum number of work credits you need is six (if you are under 24 years old). You can earn up to four work credits per year, earning one credit for the minimum amount set for that year.
When the SSA approves you for benefits, your Social Security award letter will state the start date of your disability and outline the monthly and retroactive benefits you are owed. Retroactive benefits are paid in a lump sum.
Our Social Security Disability attorneys can meet with you to discuss and review your situation and work with you to determine a plan of action to promote your application’s approval. In addition, our legal team can answer any questions you have about SSDI and your application.
Applying For Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI is a resource-based Disability program. Therefore, you can file for these benefits when you have a qualifying disability and/or limited financial resources. In addition, the SSA is very transparent about the amount of money applicants may be able to receive if their application for benefits is approved.
In 2022, if you are:
- An eligible individual, you can receive $821 a month
- An eligible couple, you can receive $1,261 a month
SSI benefits may also qualify you for Medicaid insurance, which offers hospital, medical, prescription, and dental coverage. If you need help with your application for SSI, our SSD lawyers in Spartanburg can work with you to determine if you are eligible for the program and what you will need to do to apply.
Being Denied For Social Security Disability
Unfortunately, so many people who apply for SSDI or SSI benefits do not receive the money they ask for on the first try. We understand how frustrating this is, but we urge you not to become discouraged. Our team can help you fight back after a denied claim.
You have 60 days after receiving a denial to file an appeal. If you do not do so, the SSA will assume you agree with their decision. You would have to start the entire application process over again if you decided to seek benefits later.
According to the SSA, the SSD appeals process follows these basic steps, all of which our team can assist you with:
- Reconsideration: This is the first step in the appeals process. When you ask for a reconsideration, you are requesting that someone unfamiliar with your claim look it over with fresh eyes and render a decision.
- Hearing: If the reconsideration upholds the initial denial, you can ask for a hearing. This would allow you to speak directly to an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) about why you deserve benefits. Alternately, your lawyer could appear on your behalf.
- Review: During a review, multiple ALJs will determine whether or not the decisions made at the reconsideration and hearing levels were justified. The SSA may or may not grant your request for a review at their discretion.
- Federal Court: Finally, after exhausting all other options, you can take your case to federal court. There, you would have to present your case to a judge and let them make the final decision in your case.
We can help you through the appeals process, if necessary, though we also work hard to get our clients’ cases approved on the first try.
Contact Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC Today For Help With Your SSD Application
Filing for Social Security Disability benefits can be a complex process, as there are strict requirements you must meet to get approved. Our SSD attorneys can help Spartanburg residents understand what steps to take throughout the application process.
To learn more about how our legal team may be able to help, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC today. We offer free consultations to callers who want more information about how to apply for the benefits they need and deserve.