If you have a disability caused by a chronic condition or unexpected accident, you may be struggling to provide for yourself and your family. If you have a qualifying condition that the Social Security Administration (SSA) recognizes as a disability, you may be able to receive Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits that include cash payments and insurance coverage.
Yet, applying for benefits can quickly prove to be a long and arduous process. For that reason, you may want to consider working with a Spindale Social Security Disability lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC.
We can help you:
- File your initial application
- Appeal a denied application
- Review your medical and mental health records
- Calculate your work credits
- Apply for benefits on behalf of your dependents
Whether you are just starting the application process or have had an application denied, we can help. To get started with a free, no-obligation case review, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, at (828) 286-3866.
Social Security Disability Benefits Programs
The SSA offers two disability benefits programs for which people may apply. Depending on your situation, you may be eligible to receive benefits under two different programs. You may be able to file for these programs concurrently if you qualify. These programs include:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI): SSDI is a benefits program for qualified workers who work enough time to earn work credits and receive disability benefits. This is tracked by Social Security contributions.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI): People who do not qualify for SSDI may apply for SSI, which allows individuals with limited income and resources to receive disability benefits. Other requirements also exist to qualify.
It is not uncommon for applicants to have their initial application for benefits denied, even if they genuinely qualify for these programs.
What the SSA Considers When Reviewing Your Case
It is common for the SSA to deny disability claims, as the administration aims to give benefits to individuals who truly need it. As such, any type of error or misinformation can put your application at risk. According to the SSA, nearly 53 percent of disability claims were denied on average between 2001 and 2010.
It is important to understand whether you meet eligibility requirements that the SSA established and that you present your case’s facts based on what the administration is looking for. When reviewing your application, the SSA will take the following questions into consideration:
- Are you working? The SSA puts a wage cap for individuals who want to work while receiving disability benefits. This cap varies by year based on costs of living. For example, in 2022, you must not earn more than $1,350 per month on average to receive benefits as a non-blind person.
- Is your condition “severe”? You may need a medical professional to provide written documentation on your behalf about the severity of your disability. The SSA may also send someone to examine your physical and mental health to determine whether your condition qualifies as “severe.”
- Does the SSA consider your condition to be disabling? You can review the SSA’s Listing of Impairments to see if your disability qualifies for benefits.
- Can you do the work that you did before your condition arose? If your disability generally does not prevent you from continuing your routine work or progressing in your career, you might not be considered disabled or in need of benefits.
- Can you do any other type of work? If your disability forces you to leave your career but still allows you to work in some capacity, you may be denied benefits if this potential allows you to exceed the SSA’s wage cap.
Many people think they do not qualify for benefits because they are still able to work. As long as you are making less than $1,350 a month in 2022, you can still be considered disabled.
When you work with a Spindale Social Security Disability lawyer, they can review the details of your situation and determine a course of action for moving forward. If your initial disability claim was denied, they can review your application and make necessary alterations to increase your chances of getting approved during the appeals process.
Applying for SSDI Benefits
SSDI allows disabled individuals to collect benefits based on their work history. When you work, you pay Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) taxes, which are automatically withheld from your paycheck (unless you are self-employed or an independent contractor). These taxes fund Social Security programs.
Your FICA taxes entitle you to disability insurance benefits if you become unable to work.
Qualifications for SSDI Benefits
According to SSR 82-52, to qualify for SSDI, you must provide evidence in your application that proves that:
- Your disability prevents you from working, and either
- Your disability is expected to last at least 12 months, or
- Your disability is expected to contribute to your death.
It does not matter how your disability happened as long as you are able to back it up with evidence. Usually, this includes visiting with a doctor who can evaluate your health and then attest to the severity of your condition. Additionally, you will need to prove that you have worked long enough to qualify for these benefits.
Understanding Work Credits
In 2021, per the SSA, for every $1,470 that you have earned through employment, you get one work credit. Based on your age, you will need a certain amount of credits to qualify for SSDI. For example, if you are over age 31, you will need 20 work credits for your application to be approved.
Yet, if you do not have the appropriate amount of work credits, for whatever reason, a Spindale Social Security Disability lawyer can help you understand your options. For more information, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, at (828) 286-3866.
Qualifying for SSI Benefits
SSI is a resource-based benefit, meaning that you must demonstrate limited financial resources and a disability to qualify. Children can receive SSI benefits if their parents have limited resources.
Wage and Resource Caps for SSI Benefits
The SSA notes that SSI benefits are capped at $841 for individuals and $1,261 for couples per month in 2022. Your SSI benefit amount is calculated by deducting any countable income from the maximum SSI payment.
Common non-countable assets, per the SSA, include:
- Your residence
- One vehicle
- Household furnishings and personal effects
- Burial plots for you or close family members
- Life insurance policies with a combined value of $1,500 or less
If you are approved for SSI benefits, you may receive Medicaid insurance coverage, which can include medications, doctor’s appointments, dental care, and emergency hospitalization.
Facing a Denial of Benefits
It is not uncommon for applicants of both SSDI and SSI benefits to be denied upon initially sending in their application. If you are denied, a member of our team can review your application for completion and accuracy, and from there, share with you your legal options.
If your application is denied, you have the opportunity to enter the appeals process within 60 days of your denial.
The Appeals Process
The appeals process includes:
- Reconsideration: This is where your application will be reviewed by an official who is different from the one who made the first decision.
- Administrative Law Judge hearing: If you are denied for benefits again, you can request a hearing through an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) who can reassess your situation either in-person or through a video hearing.
- Appeals Council: If the Appeals Council chooses to review your case, they can either approve your application or send it back to an ALJ for further consideration.
- Federal Court: You may be able to file a lawsuit in a federal district court.
You need to act within various deadlines set by the SSA or risk having to start the process all over again. For that reason, you may not have long to act. An SSD benefits lawyer from our law firm can help you navigate the appeals process. Our legal team can collect evidence on your behalf and petition for your right to claim benefits in hearings.
Call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC, Today
If a medical or mental health condition prevents you from working, our dedicated legal team can assist you in applying for SSDI and SSI benefits. Social Security Disability benefits can provide you with a reliable source of income if you recently lost your ability to work.
No matter what stage of the process you are in, a lawyer from Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC can help. We can guide you through the application process or represent your interests in court, if necessary.
To get started with a free case review, call Farmer & Morris Law, PLLC today at (828) 286-3866.