There is no reason to wait until you are denied Social Security Disability before you engage the assistance of an attorney. In fact, the earlier in the process you retain an attorney, the better. You may have hurt your chances for benefits by waiting until you are denied Social Security Disability benefits.
You have a right to legal representation throughout the entire Social Security Disability process. And when dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA), it has been shown that individuals who have the help of an experienced Social Security Disability attorney have better success overall in getting applications for benefits approved.
In this article, we will discuss some of the basics of Social Security Disability Insurance, the process you should expect, and how invaluable an attorney is for helping you along the way. After reading this article, you will likely have more questions or you may already need representation because you were denied Social Security Disability. If so, call the seasoned professionals at the Law Offices of RITE Law. We can help regardless of where you are in the process. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so call today.
1. Social Security Disability Basics
It is important to realize that Social Security Disability benefits are intended for individuals who will not be able to work for a long period of time. It is not intended to provide support for a short time away from work.
It is possible to receive Social Security Disability benefits through two different programs: (i) Social Security Disability Insurance program, and (ii) Supplemental Security Income program.
- The Two Benefits Programs
The Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Program pays benefits to you, and specific family members, if you have worked long enough and have paid Social Security taxes during those working years. Also, if you have an adult child who has a disability that started before age 22 then he or she may also qualify for benefits on your earnings.
By contrast, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program pays benefits to disabled adults and children with only limited income and resources.
To be eligible for either program, you need to be an individual who cannot work because of a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year, or result in death. That is, in fact, the federal government’s definition of “disability.” It is considered a rather narrow definition because some disability programs under other types of insurance may provide for partial disability. Unfortunately, Social Security does not.
2. The SSDI Process
With the help of a Social Security Disability attorney in your corner, you can successfully navigate the often-challenging waters of the SSA.
- The Application
The first step in the process is applying for SSDI benefits. The application requires a considerable amount of, mostly medical, information about yourself. So, if you engage an attorney early, your initial consultation with the attorney will be invaluable for gathering all of the necessary information for the application.
In that vein, your initial consultation with an attorney will be a data-gathering and preliminary review exercise. With the attorney, you can discuss the details involving your medical situation. Be sure to be complete with all of the medical issues you have. That is important because even if one condition does not qualify you for SSDI, all of your conditions taken together might qualify. With that information, the attorney can give you a general sense of whether you qualify for SSDI.
If you likely qualify, you should be sure to have the attorney discuss a little about the grid that the SSA uses to determine the amount of benefits you can receive. The SSA will place you on a numerical grid based on factors including your age, your academic degrees, your work history, job skills, and a component called Residual Functional Capacity (or, your capacity for work that is either sedentary, light, medium, or heavy). That grid indicates the amount of SSDI benefit for which you are eligible given your medical circumstances.
Once your attorney has prepared the application for you, it may take about three months before you get an answer from the SSA. You then will begin receiving benefits at some point after your application is approved.
If, however, your application is denied, then your attorney can help you appeal that decision.
- “Request for Reconsideration”
Within 60 days of an initial denial, you may file what is called a “request for reconsideration.” As you would expect, that filing asks the SSA to give your application a second look. The reconsideration request will be a time for you and your attorney to address whatever the SSA believes might be a factor against approval of your application.
If you are still unable to persuade the SSA, your next avenue of appeal is to request a hearing.
- SSDI Hearing
You have 60 days from the denial of a reconsideration request to ask for an SSDI hearing. The hearing is, as you may expect, a live mini-trial-like proceeding that involves an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). It is like a mini-trial because your attorney can present evidence in your case, and the ALJ will likely ask you questions about your application for benefits.
The ALJ will want to know about a number of subjects, including:
1. Your job background,
2. Whether medical impairments prevented you from working,
3. Whether environmental factors, like noise, fumes, or temperature play a role in your disability,
4. Your medical treatment and the professionals who are treating you, and
5. Your levels of pain, and how you currently manage your pain.
Denied Social Security Disability? Let RITE Law in Florida Help You with SSDI.
Without help from the RITE team, making a Social Security Disability Insurance claim can be frustrating and can result in lost time and money. When you turn to our firm, we spring into action, making sure that every detail of your claim is addressed. Call us for help. Our number is (904) 500-RITE or you can fill out our contact form online. We provide a free case evaluation, so call us today.