Being unable to work and earn a living due to a disability is overwhelming. Although public disability benefits such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be an option, obtaining such benefits can be a challenge. The majority of initial disability claims are denied, and pursuing an appeal requires patience and resolve. When your well-being and livelihood are hanging in the balance, it is crucial to work with an experienced disability benefits attorney.
At Stansberry Law, we know you may have concerns about receiving the appropriate medical care, paying the medical bills, and supporting your family. Our legal team works to address those concerns by providing trusted advice, objective insights, and caring, efficient service. Well-versed in the applicable rules governing Social Security disability benefits, we are highly regarded as dedicated advocates of the disabled.
We can help you navigate all phases of a disability benefits application — from submitting an initial claim to pursuing an inevitable appeal and representing you at hearing. Above all, we will always put your best interests first, working tirelessly to help you obtain the disability benefits you deserve.
What is a Disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability as the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) due to a physical or mental impairment that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death. In addition, the SSA maintains a list of qualifying medical conditions in the Blue Book.
If your impairment is included in the SSA’s listing, you may be eligible for benefits. You may also be awarded benefits if your impairment is not found in the Blue Book if the SSA determines your condition is medically equal to a listed impairment or limits your functioning too much to work. Because more than two-thirds of the initial disability claims are denied, however, you will likely need to file an appeal.
Types of Social Security Disability Benefits
There are two types of disability benefits are available from the SSA — Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI):
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) — Benefits are available to individuals over the age of 18, but under the age of 65, who have paid into the Social Security system through income tax deductions. To be eligible, you must have acquired sufficient work credits which are earned based on the number of quarters you have worked each year. Finally, SSDI is not “means-tested,” which means benefits are available regardless of your financial status.
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — Benefits are only awarded to those who are disabled, blind or over 65 — regardless of whether or not they have paid into the Social Security System — as well as children with a qualifying medical condition. Because these benefits are means-tested, your income and resources cannot exceed a certain threshold – less than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple. The value of your primary residence is not included in this determination, however.
How do I apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
In order to obtain disability benefits, it is necessary to apply with the SSA, either online, by mail or in person at the local SSA office in your state. In any case, submitting a disability benefits application is complicated — it must be completed correctly and there are numerous forms that must be included. In addition, there is a substantial amount of medical information that must be provided, such as doctor’s reports, an exam history, lab tests, radiological exams and any other information that will verify the diagnosis and prognosis. Ultimately, the medical evidence must show that you are incapable of performing any SGA due to your disability.
Our firm routinely guides clients through the disability benefits application process. We prepare each case proactively to minimize the prospects of a denial. Common reasons for a disability benefits claim denial include:
- Not enough work credits
- Errors or omissions in the application
- Insufficient medical evidence
- The condition does not meet the SSA’s criteria of a disability
Understanding whether you have acquired sufficient work credits and the factors involved in determining whether your disability meets the SSA’s criteria is complicated. At Stansberry Law, we have the knowledge and skill to assess your case and a proven track record of successfully pursuing disability benefits claims.
Social Security Disability Appeals
If your disability benefits application is denied, you have a right to appeal, but you must act quickly. First, in most states, a request for reconsideration must be filed with the SSA within 60 days of receiving the denial notice. A Social Security medical consultant and an examiner not involved in the initial decision will re-evaluate the application. However, your reconsideration claim will likely be denied unless your medical condition has worsened or there has been a new diagnosis.
If the reconsideration claim is denied, you must request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) within 60 days of the denial. If your state has eliminated the reconsideration review step, you must appeal and file a request for a hearing before an ALJ within 60 days of the initial denial. The chances of having a denial overturned by an ALJ improve dramatically when an experienced disability benefits attorney is handling your case.
Birmingham, Alabama Social Security Disability Benefits Attorney
At Stansberry Law, we know that coping with a disability is a challenge and navigating the maze of the Social Security Administration system is daunting. Our legal team will fully explain all of your rights and work tirelessly to secure the disability benefits you deserve. If you or a loved one needs assistance obtaining SSDI or SSI benefits, we are here to help. Please reach out and contact our office today.