Sustaining a debilitating illness or injury and being unable to work is an overwhelming experience. Although the Social Security Administration (SSA) offers benefits programs to disabled individuals, obtaining these vital public benefits is not guaranteed. When your physical, emotional, and financial welfare are in jeopardy, it takes an experienced social security disability benefits attorney to protect your rights.
Located in Florida, My.Attorney provides comprehensive legal services to disabled individuals and their families throughout the nation. Well-versed in the eligibility rule governing disability benefits, we can help you navigate the entire process, from preparing and submitting a benefits application, to an appeal, to a disability hearing, to final approval. When you consult us, you will have peace of mind, knowing that dedicated advocates of the disabled are on your side.
What is a Disability?
Under Social Security Administration guidelines, a disability is defined as not being able to perform any substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a medical impairment that has lasted or is expected to last, at least one year or to result in death. In addition, the SSA maintains a listing of qualifying physical and mental conditions, referred to as the Blue Book. An impairment that is not included in the listing may also meet the benefits criteria if it is found to be medically equal to a listed condition.
What types of disability benefits are available?
The SSA offers two different benefit programs — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — Benefits are available to disabled individuals who are older than 18, but under the age of 65, who have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. Although these benefits are not means-tested, you must have earned sufficient work credits, based on the number of quarters worked each year, to qualify.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — Benefits are only available to those who are disabled, blind or over 65 years of age, regardless of whether or not they have paid into the Social Security system. These benefits are means-tested, however, which means your income and financial resources cannot exceed a specific threshold. In addition, children under the age of 18 who have a qualifying medical condition may be eligible for SSI.
The Disability Benefits Application Process
Applying for disability benefits and navigating the bureaucracy of the SSA can be daunting. The application and additional required forms must be completed correctly. Medical evidence must also be provided, including doctor’s reports, an exam history, lab tests and radiological exams, and any other relevant information verifying the diagnosis and prognosis of the impairment.
In sum, you must be able to show that you are incapable of performing any SGA as a result of your medical condition.
Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of initial disability benefit claims are denied, either because the claimant did not acquire sufficient work credits, the medical condition was not a qualifying impairment, or the application contained errors. By working with the disability benefit attorneys at My.Attorney, however, the likelihood of your claim being approved increases.
Disability Benefit Appeals
When a claim is denied, the SSA will send a letter informing you of the reason for the denial and your right to appeal the decision. The first step in the appeals process is to file a Request for Reconsideration with the agency within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. An SSA medical consultant and an examiner who were not involved in the initial decision will reevaluate the claim. Generally, a reconsideration claim will only be approved if there has been a new diagnosis or the medical condition has worsened.
If the reconsideration claim is denied, you must request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days of the denial. An ALJ is not a court judge, but rather an SSA attorney who is authorized to to uphold or overturn the denial. The ALJ will conduct a hearing, ask you questions about how the disability affects your day-to-day living, and also hear testimony from a medical expert. My.Attorney has extensive experience representing clients in disability hearings and will fight to help you obtain the benefits you deserve.
If the ALJ denies your claim, the Appeals Council will conduct a review to determine whether to overturn the decision, remand it to the ALJ for further reconsideration, or deny the claim. if the Appeals Council denies the claim, we will consider filing a lawsuit in federal court to have the decision overturned. In any event, applying for disability benefits and navigating the appeals process requires the advice and guidance we are prepared to provide.
Contact Our Florida Social Security Disability Attorney
We are dedicated to helping disabled individuals navigate the SSA system and obtain the benefits they deserve. We also provide ongoing counsel to make sure they maintain their eligibility for benefits. Knowing that a sustaining a disabling medical condition is a life-altering experience, we will stand by you every step of the way. If you or a loved one needs assistance obtaining disability benefits, don’t go it alone. Download the MyAttorney app to arrange a free case evaluation or don’t hestiate to contact us with any questions that you might have.