Social Security Disability benefits are a vital resource for those who cannot support themselves or their families because of a disabling medical condition. Unfortunately, the process for obtaining these benefits is complex. Each year, a majority of applicants are denied the benefits they need.
Often these denials are based on simple errors or inaccuracies that could have been avoided. Other times a claim is denied because the Social Security Administration (SSA) does not have enough information to determine if you qualify for benefits. In either case, applicants should always appeal a denied claim. Our experienced Stuart Social Security Disability lawyers can help guide you through the entire process. Furthermore, if you work with our attorneys from the start, we can help make sure you have the right information and documentation included in your claim and that it is complete and accurate.
Whether your disability was caused by a sudden personal injury or developed over time, do not wait to contact our trusted Social Security Disability lawyers in Stuart for a free consultation today.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form to get started now.
Help at All Stages of the Disability Process
No matter where you are in the process of applying for disability benefits, it is highly recommended that you seek the help of a trusted Stuart Social Security Disability attorney.
Our lawyers are well-versed on the many laws and rules surrounding disability benefits and the application process. We can advise you of how to go about building or appealing your claim, and we will take on much of the burden of gathering the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim.
We can guide you through the following steps for applying for benefits and appealing a denied claim.
Applying for Disability Benefits
There are three ways to apply for Social Security Disability benefits:
- Submitting an application online
- Calling 1-800-722-1213 or TTY 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing
- Visiting your local Social Security Disability office in person
The SSA will require extensive documentation with your application, and determining what should and should not be included can be difficult. If any information is incorrect or missing, your claim will likely be denied.
Our attorneys can help make sure your application is complete and accurate, gathering all information that you do not have or cannot get on your own. We will help you collect and compile everything needed to support your claim, including:
- Personal information
- Marriage and/or divorce information, if applicable
- Information about your children, if applicable
- Military service information, if applicable
- Employer details for the two years prior to developing your disabling condition
- Job history for the 15 years before you were unable to work because of your condition
- Banking information
- Contact information for your doctors
- A list of your medical conditions
The more comprehensive and complete your claim is from the initial application step, the more quickly and smoothly the entire process will be. Contact our Stuart Social Security Disability attorneys today for help with your application.
Appealing a Denied Disability Claim
Unfortunately, it is very common for disability applicants to be denied benefits the first time they apply. However, you have the right to appeal a denied claim, whether your claim was denied for medical or nonmedical reasons.
Because the appeals process can be complicated, it is best to work with a trusted Stuart Social Security Disability attorney who can guide you step-by-step through the appeals process:
The first step in appealing a denied disability decision, is to file a written request for reconsideration within 60 days of the date you received the letter detailing the SSA’s decision on your claim. This step is a complete review of your claim by someone who was not involved in the initial decision.
Our lawyers will file this request for you and will determine if there is any additional evidence we can gather and submit that can help support your claim. If the claims examiner has any questions about your claim, we will respond on your behalf.
Administrative Law Hearing
If your claim was denied again or you disagree with part of the SSA’s decision, the next step is to file a request for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At this point, it is vital that you have an attorney representing you. We will:
- Prepare you for questioning from the judge regarding your condition and its effects on your life
- Represent your interests before the judge
- Request testimony and questioning of witnesses that can help your claim
- Present new evidence or information to support your claim
If you again disagree with the Administrative Law Judge’s decision on your claim, you can ask that your claim be reviewed by the Social Security Appeals Court.
It is important to note, however, that the Appeals Court may decide not to review your claim, allowing the Administrative Law Judge’s decision to stand. If the court does review your claim, it may make a decision itself or may send your claim to another Administrative Law Judge to make a decision.
In either case, our attorneys will work to represent your interests and fight for the benefits you need.
If the Appeals Council chose not to review your case or you disagree with the decision made on your claim, the final option for appeal is to file a lawsuit in federal district court. However, very few claims make it to this level, and even fewer are approved through a lawsuit.
No matter where you are in the process of applying for disability benefits, you should contact our trusted Social Security Disability attorneys in Stuart for help with your claim. We will provide personalized support for you and your claim, helping ensure it is complete and accurate. If you are awarded benefits, we will also make sure you are receiving the correct amount.
Call 1 (855) 722-2552 to learn more about how we can help you.
Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits?
One of the most common reasons a disability application can be denied is if the applicant does not meet the SSA’s requirements for obtaining Social Security Disability benefits.
Because these benefits are reserved only for those who are so disabled that they can no longer work, the SSA has strict requirements that must be met to qualify for benefits.
Based on the information submitted in your application, the SSA will evaluate your claim in in a step-by-step process involving five questions:
Are You Currently Working?
The first step in qualifying for disability benefits is to determine if you are currently working. The SSA considers an individual to be working if he or she earns more than $1,170 in a month for 2017. If your monthly income exceeds this amount, you will not be considered disabled.
Is Your Medical Condition Severe?
Your condition must interfere with your ability to perform basic work-related tasks for at least one year. If you do not meet this requirement, the SSA will not consider you to be disabled and your claim will be denied.
Is Your Medical Condition Listed in the SSA Blue Book?
The SSA maintains a Blue Book of impairment listings where it lists medical conditions that are so severe they automatically qualify for disability benefits. If your condition is listed in this book, you will automatically meet the SSA’s medical requirements and should be approved for benefits if you also meet the nonmedical requirements.
If your condition is not listed, the SSA will decide if your condition meets the severity of one that is listed. If not, your claim will move to the next question.
Some of the conditions listed in the Blue Book include:
- Musculoskeletal Disorders: amputation, burns, fracture of the pelvis, spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease
- Special Senses and Speech Disorders: vision loss, hearing loss
- Respiratory Disorders: asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic pulmonary hypertension
- Disorders of the Cardiovascular System: coronary artery disease, chronic heart failure
- Digestive System Disorders: chronic liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease
- Genitourinary Disorders: chronic kidney disease
- Hematological Disorders: sickle cell disease, hemophilia
- Skin Disorders: dermatitis, burns,
- Endocrine Disorders: diabetes, diabetic ketoacidosis, chronic hyperglycemia, hypoglycemia
- Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems: non-mosaic down syndrome
- Neurological Disorders: epilepsy, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, traumatic brain injury
- Mental Disorders: depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, Autism spectrum disorder
- Cancer: leukemia, lymphoma, lung cancer, esophagus or stomach cancer, pancreatic cancer, breast cancer
- Immune Disorders: systemic lupus, inflammatory arthritis, HIV
Can You Perform the Work You Previously Did?
If the SSA considers your condition to be severe but it is not listed in the Blue Book, the SSA will determine if it interferes with your ability to do the work you did before you became disabled.
To do this, the SSA will require details about your previous jobs and the tasks you were required to do. It will then evaluate if your condition allows you to perform those same tasks.
Can You Perform Any Additional Type of Work?
If you cannot do the work you did in the past, the SSA will determine if you can adjust to another type of work. To do this, it will consider your:
- Medical condition
- Past work experience
- Transferrable skills
Call 1 (855) 722-2552 for a free consultation with our Social Security Disability lawyers in Stuart.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
The SSA pays disability benefits under two different programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). In addition to requiring that applicants meet the requirements above, each program also has its own additional set of requirements.
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI)
SSDI provides monthly disability benefits to individuals and certain family members who have worked long enough and paid into Social Security who are considered “insured.” This determination is based on work credits, which are earned yearly based on your annual income.
You can earn up to four credits a year, and in 2017, one credit is equal to $1,300 in wages. Once you have earned $5,200, you have earned four credits for the year.
Although the number of work credits you need to qualify for SSDI depends on the age you became disabled, most applicants need 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the past 10 years. Younger workers, however, may qualify with fewer work credits.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Individuals who do not meet the work credit requirements for SSDI, may be eligible to receive SSI. This monthly benefit pays based on an individual’s financial need and is reserved for individuals who meet one of the following requirements:
- 65 or older
Because this benefit is only paid based on financial need, applicants’ income and resources cannot exceed a certain amount. The SSA will consider all income you receive from wages, Social Security benefits, workers’ compensation benefits and pensions, along with all of the things you own, such as real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds.
When building your application and gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim, our Stuart Social Security Disability attorneys will help make sure you have the documentation necessary for proving that you qualify for one of these programs.
Complete a Free Case Evaluation form today.
Social Security Disability Benefits for Disabled Children
If your child suffers from a disabling condition, he or she may be eligible for disability benefits. Disabled children under the age of 18 may be able to receive SSI benefits, while adult children who became disabled before the age of 22 may be able to receive SSDI benefits.
For a child to be eligible for SSI, he or she must suffer from a disabling condition, or combination of conditions, that meet the SSA’s definition of disabled for children. Additionally, the income and resources of the child and his or her family cannot exceed the SSA’s eligibility requirements.
Adults who became disabled before age 22 may be able to receive SSDI on a parent’s Social Security earnings record if one of the parents is receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits or died after earning enough work credits.
Disability Benefits for Dependents
In addition to disabled children, there are also several other family members who may be eligible for SSDI benefits based on an individual’s earning record:
- Spouse: A disability applicant’s spouse may be able to receive SSDI if he or she is 62 or older, is caring for a child who is under the age of 16 or is receiving disability benefits. This benefit, however, is not available if he or she can collect a higher Social Security benefit based on his or her record.
- Divorced Spouse: An applicant’s divorced spouse may be able to qualify for benefits on the applicant’s earning record if he or she was married to the applicant for 10 years or more, is at least 62 years old, is unmarried, and is not eligible for an equal or higher benefit on his or her Social Security record or someone else’s record.
- Children: A child may qualify on an applicant’s Social Security record if he or she is unmarried and under the age of 18, 18 or 19 years old and a full-time student, or 18 or older with a disability that began before he or she turned 22. A child can be biological, adopted or a stepchild.
Each family member may be able to receive up to 50 percent of the applicant’s disability rate. However, there is a limit to the amount the family as a whole can receive, which will depend on the applicant’s benefit amount and the number of members in his or her family that are receiving benefits.
To learn more, contact our Stuart Social Security Disability lawyers for a free, no obligation consultation. We are experienced in handling a variety of disability claims and can advise you of all options for obtaining benefits for you and your family.
Contact Our Stuart Social Security Disability Lawyers
If you suffer from a disabling condition that prevents you from being able to work and support yourself and your family, you should contact Gordon & Doner to learn more about your options for filing for Social Security Disability benefits.
Our Stuart Social Security Disability lawyers have decades of experience helping disabled individuals navigate the application and appeals process. We can guide you every step of the way to help you obtain the benefits you need.
Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, we do not charge for our services unless you receive the benefits you need. Even then, we only charge a percentage of what you receive.