Social Security Disability Benefits
If you are disabled and unable to work, you may be confused about what types of benefits are available to you. Our Social Security Disability lawyers can help you navigate your way through the system, to make sure you receive all of the Social Security Benefits the law entitles you to.
According to the government’s own reports, the Social Security Disability Insurance Benefits and Supplemental Security Income disability programs are the largest of several Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While these two programs are different in many ways, both are administered by the Social Security Administration and individuals who have a disability which meets SSA’s medical criteria may qualify for benefits under either program.
Under these programs, a disability is defined as: “An inability to perform substantial gainful activity by reason of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment, or combination of impairments, which has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 consecutive months, or end in death, taking into account the individual’s age, education, and work history.” Generally, you must present a doctor’s opinion that you are disabled, as well as documentation, such as medical records, to back up your disability claim.
Even when you have extensive documentation, your initial application for Social Security Disability Benefits stands a good chance of being denied. Many of these denials are extremely unfair, especially considering that claimants like you worked hard for years, faithfully paying their Social Security taxes. Social Security Disability Benefits are not a hand-out or charity, and they should never be denied to any eligible person who needs them.
Social Security Disability Insurance (DIB) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. Generally, this means having worked at least five of the ten years before you became disabled, with earnings above a base threshold and payment of FICA taxes. If you qualify for DIB benefits, you will qualify for Medicare two years after the date that you first became disabled.
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people who have little or no income. If you fit this criteria, SSI will provide you with cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. Unlike typical Social Security Benefits, SSI is funded by general tax revenues, not FICA taxes. If you qualify for SSI benefits, you should be eligible to receive Medicaid immediately on approval of your application.
Social Security Disability Benefit Denials
The sad fact is, approximately 75 percent of Social Security Disability applications are denied. There is no way to justify a denial rate that high, and it is likely that many of the decisions against claimants are unfair. A denial is no reflection on you or your character. You worked hard all your life to pay your Social Security taxes, and you deserve those disability benefits if you are now disabled and unable to work.
If you have been unfairly denied your Social Security Benefits, you need to keep fighting. If your initial application for Social Security Disability Benefits has been denied, definitely apply for reconsideration of the denial. A reconsideration involves an informal hearing within the Social Security Office where your application was processed. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of all reconsiderations are denied. You are permitted to have legal representation for the reconsideration hearing, and the aid of an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer can be extremely helpful at this point.
If your application for reconsideration is denied, you have the right to an appeal before an Administrative Law Judge who is employed by the Social Security Administration. You must request this hearing within 60 days from the date your request for reconsideration was denied.
The Administrative hearing is a relatively informal process. However, it is in your best interest to retain an experienced Social Security Disability lawyer to present evidence on your behalf. Before the hearing, your attorney will gather medical evidence to support your claim and prepare you for your testimony, increasing your chances for success. According to SSA’s statistics, applicants who are represented at their ALJ hearing are more than 4 times more likely to win their case.
If the Administrative Law Judge denies your claim, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews the decisions of the Administrative Law Judge, however, there is no hearing before this council. The Appeals Council may decide to uphold the Administrative Law Judge’s decision, pay your claim, or send your case back to an Administrative Law Judge for another hearing.
If you are denied at all administrative appeal levels, you still don’t have to give up. The law gives you the right to file a lawsuit in federal court. People who have been denied Social Security Disability Benefits may appeal their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, if need be.
Legal Help for Social Security Disability Denials
You do not have to accept an unfair denial of your Social Security Disability claim. Our law firm has represented clients at all stages of the Social Security appeals process, and our clients have won favorable decisions at all levels. Our Social Security Disability lawyers know how to navigate the complex regulations and deadlines that govern Social Security appeals.
If you or someone you know has been denied Social Security Disability Benefits, we urge you to take action. Please fill out our online form, or call 1-800-4 ATTY REX to discuss the remedies available to you with one of our experienced Social Security Disability lawyers.