Few people want to think of disability. Frankly, it’s frightening. The idea of becoming disabled makes us uncomfortable. The thought of losing the lives we cherish scares us. We want to ignore it. We don’t want to believe that a disability can forever change the way we, and our loved ones, live.
Most of us simply hope that serious disability never strikes.
Unfortunately, disability does strike. Disabling conditions are more commonplace than people realize. Many people will face disability at some point during life. It will be difficult. It may be unexpected entirely. In many cases, disability will change the way we view our world and ourselves.
Simply put, disability is never easy. For some of us, it’s even lethal.
This is why help is so crucial. People afflicted with disability deserve to find an easier path. Disabled people should receive the assistance and care they deserve. Individuals and families affected by disability deserve it. The spouses and children of disabled people deserve it. Society’s most suffering deserve it.
Fortunately, a good disability lawyer can help. A top social security attorney understands the Social Security Administration (SSA) like few others do. A top social security attorney knows what to do.
What Social Security Disability Lawyers Know
Many people don’t realize that disability can appear at any time. Sometimes, there are no warnings. In fact, as high as 25% of 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement age. This is why the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers benefits. SSA is a governmental agency designed to help millions of people.
As of today, the SSA offers two disability programs for those who truly need help. These programs include the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. The SSDI program is most commonly associated with disability benefits.
Generally, the Social Security Administration (SSA) pays disability benefits to people who can’t work due to a disabling medical condition. This medical condition or impairment is expected to last for at least 12 months or lead to death.
However, not all programs rely on this stringent definition of disability.
Many programs administer payments based on partial or short-term disabilities. These disabilities are not as severe as total disabilities recognized by the SSA. Disabilities recognized by other programs are also not as long-lasting. These disabilities may improve or become manageable quickly.
A top Lawyer For Social Security Disability understands this. This critical distinction is often the reason disability applicants are denied. Some applicants simply don’t have what the SSA considers a severe disability.
Medical conditions must significantly impact functioning. If a condition does not, it may not be qualifying. An applicant’s earning history can also be disqualifying.
Disability Earnings Tests
Aside from the disability definition, there is also an earnings criteria. Disability applicants will be required to undergo two earnings tests. The first test is called a recent work test. This assessment determines the age at which an applicant became disabled. This is a crucial piece of data in the SSA’s consideration.
The second test is a duration test. Applicants must have worked long enough under Social Security. Applicants must show a certain number of work credits, based on earnings. A full year of work consists of four credits.
You must demonstrate a minimum of six quarters of work credits to meet the requirement. Even if you are not yet aged 22, you must still adhere to this requirement.
A seasoned Social Security Disability Attorney understands these work credits very well. A top lawyer also recognizes that the process is very lengthy and complicated. Typically, applicants must wait up to five months for processing. Applicants should apply as soon as the disability is present.
Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits
When applying for disability benefits, claimants have multiple options. Applicants can choose to either apply online or begin by phone. The website for the online application is available at www.socialsecurity.gov. However, not all applicants may be eligible to apply online.
The website will tell the applicant if he or she is eligible to apply online.
Applicants can also apply in-person and by phone. In applying by phone, the claimant should call toll-free at 1-800-772-1213. The applicant can also schedule an appointment to file a disability claim in-person. Once the appointment is set, applicants should find a Local Social Security Office.
Applicants can search the SSA website to locate offices nearby. Search engine keywords can also help target local offices.
What Happens At An “SSA Office Near Me”
If you choose to go in-person, you will still need to provide the same type of information required by phone. It may help to have a social security attorney at your side. A good lawyer will understand how to fully and properly present all necessary information.
Once you have arrived at a “Social Security Near Me,” you will experience multiple things. An agent will thoroughly review your application to ensure you meet all the basic requirements. Firstly, the representative will evaluate your disability conditions. Then, the reviewer will check your work credits. Thirdly, the reviewer will check your current work engagement.
You can also search generally online with relevant search terms. You may choose to find a “Social Security Disability Office Near Me”. You can also look in listings and other directories to find the social security location in your area.
Once your application passes this stage, the office will forward your claim and case to the Disability Determination Services (DDS) office of your state. Medical experts and disability specialists in the DDS office will consult your own doctors for more information.
DDS specialists will assess the following areas of your condition(s):
- Your precise medical diagnosis;
- The date the medical condition(s) began;
- How your medical condition(s) impact your functioning;
- Medical tests results; and
- The treatments you’ve received for your medical condition(s).
DDS medical specialists will consult your physicians concerning other information as well. Your doctors will likely provide information regarding your work-related activities. These activities include walking, sitting, lifting, carrying and mental capacities.
The DDS may even request additional information beyond these areas. In the off-chance that your physicians cannot provide additional information, the DDS will have you referred for an examination. This further evaluation may be performed by your personal physician or someone else.
Most of the associated costs for this special examination will be covered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). An attorney can help throughout all of these steps.
What A Social Security Lawyer Does
If any of these steps sound burdensome, you are not alone. Even well-equipped, intelligent applicants struggle. The process is full of strict and precise requirements. The criteria can be difficult to meet.
For this reason, the majority of initial disability claims are denied. Many people simply fail to provide adequate information.
There are many deadlines mandated by the SSA. Certain portions of documentation must be provided by certain dates. Applicants must file appeals within a certain time frame. All applications must be completed fully and properly. People who fail to meet these requirements will struggle to get approved.
If your disability application is denied, you have a scant 60 days to file necessary documentation for your appeal.
This is where a top security disability attorney can help significantly. Disability lawyers and advocates understand how best to present all information to optimize your claim. An SSDI claim must not only present the pertinent medical information, it must provide the pertinent medical documentation. In other words, the SSA requires ‘proof’ of what you’re saying.
Lawyers are also advantageous in the case of appeals. There are currently four levels of social security disability appeals.
These levels include:
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing
- Appeals Council Review, and
- Federal Court Review
A sound disability advocate can thoroughly prepare you for a hearing. Without a legal mind on your side, you may become totally lost. You may fail to provide critical evidence you need to have your claim approved.
A good attorney can even identify witnesses you need for your case.
As a claimant for social security disability, you reserve the right to challenge unfavorable decisions. You also have the right to enlist a representative on your behalf. The best disability attorneys can optimize your claim in ways that you cannot.
In fact, research indicates that claimants with legal aid are significantly more likely to win appeals than claimants who are unrepresented. Moreover, claimants with legal aid are significantly more likely to get approved at the initial application stage than claimants who are unrepresented.
This level of success is the primary reason that many applicants obtain legal counsel.
It is important to remember: the process is complex. The SSA relies on a very complicated set of rules and laws to make determinations. Sometimes, the SSA must make a decision based on medical-vocational tables.
These tables are detailed. If an applicant does not present precise information in the right way, the tables may label the applicant “not disabled.”
With the help of reputed Social Security Disability Lawyers Near Me, a claimant can meet all medical and vocational criteria. With the help of attorney, an applicant can finally receive the “disabled” determination he or she deserves