The Social Security Disability (SSD) system is full of complex and technical rules that can be challenging to navigate alone. SSD benefits provide vital financial support for people who cannot work due to an injury, illness, or impairment. It can be distressing for claimants to hear their application has been denied or they will lose the benefits they have become reliant on.
A Fort Pierce Social Security Disability lawyer from our team can help you resolve your claim at whatever stage you are in the process, whether it is checking if you qualify for benefits, completing the initial application, or filing an appeal.
How Do I Qualify For Social Security Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has two main disability benefits programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Other programs such as Disabled Widow or Widower Benefits are also available for those who do not qualify for SSDI or SSI and have lost a spouse who was disabled.
Qualifying for SSDI depends on the following two elements:
- You must have worked long enough to earn a certain number of Social Security work credits. According to the SSA, you can earn up to four credits per year.
- You must have an injury or illness that prevents you from working for at least one year or is expected to be terminal.
If you have not paid enough Social Security taxes, you may be eligible for SSI benefits. To qualify for SSI, you must:
- Be blind, disabled, or over 65
- Have low income and few assets
Applying for the right program with all of the required supporting documents can help reduce mistakes or oversights that can result in a denial.
While legal representation is not required to file a disability claim, it can be beneficial to seek advice before starting your application. Our Fort Pierce Social Security Disability lawyers can:
- Review your situation
- Provide advice about the types of benefit programs available
- Determine a suitable course of action to progress your claim
- Help you gather the necessary supporting evidence for your application
For a free legal consultation with a social security disability lawyer serving Fort Pierce, 800-747-3733
How Does The Social Security Disability Claim Process Work?
Before applying for disability benefits, it is important to understand how the claim process works. The local Social Security office will receive your initial application and check if you are financially eligible for benefits before passing your claim to the disability determination services that assess whether your medical condition qualifies you for disability benefits.
Your application will be evaluated under the following criteria:
1. Are You Currently Working?
If you are employed despite your disability or will likely return to work within a year of being injured and earn over a specific monthly amount (known as substantial gainful activity or SGA), you will not qualify for SSDI benefits. The threshold for SGA is adjusted annually in line with the national average wage index. Per the SSA, the SGA monthly income caps for 2022 are:
- $2,260 for statutorily blind individuals
- $1,350 for individuals with other disabilities, illnesses, or impairments
So, if you cannot work or earn less than the monthly earning limits above, you may qualify for SSDI. Our lawyers will carefully review your situation and be able to advise on an appropriate course of action.
2. Does Your Health Condition Significantly Affect Your Ability To Work?
You will need to demonstrate that your illness, impairment, or injury is expected to affect you for at least 12 months or result in your death. It must also prevent you from engaging in substantial work activity.
Keep in mind that symptoms can be physical and/or psychological. While some claimants have health conditions that qualify as serious medical impairments, most do not. However, you may be able to combine multiple medical conditions that together qualify as a severe impairment.
Our Fort Pierce disability lawyers can help you gather the evidence you will need to demonstrate your condition affects your ability to work, such as medical records, diagnostic test results, or information about workers’ compensation benefits.
3. Is Your Medical Condition Listed As A Disabling Condition With The SSA?
The SSA lists disabling conditions, also known as the “Blue Book.” If your medical ailment is not listed, it does not necessarily mean you can’t receive benefits. We can check to see whether you still qualify due to a combination of medical conditions that limit your ability to work similarly to other conditions listed.
4. Does Your Health Condition Affect Your Ability To Do Your Job?
If you cannot return to your past employment, you must prove why. Typically, this involves gathering enough information to demonstrate how your medical condition limits you and your ability to do your former job.
We will work with you to gather the information that shows how much work you can do and why this matters to your claim. For example, if you sustained a chronic back injury that limits your movement, this would likely be considered a functional impairment that prevents you from fulfilling your job role as a construction worker.
5. Are You Able To Work In Any Other Capacity?
The final evaluation stage considers whether you can work around your medical condition in another job role. Even if you cannot work in construction anymore, you may be able to work a desk job, for example. This is a common reason many claims are denied.
If the SSA denies your claim because it determines you can work in another job role (based on findings from their vocational expert), but you disagree, we may be able to help you to appeal the decision by:
- Asking the SSA to reconsider their position
- Requesting an appeal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ)
- Seeking an Appeals Council review
- Filing a lawsuit in federal court
While this may sound like a daunting process, we will make sure you are fully prepared and understand what to expect from the process. The vocational expert (VE) must provide information about the types of work they consider you capable of doing.
Our priority is protecting your rights, ensuring you are treated fairly, and demonstrating why the alternative employment suggested by the VE is unsuitable in light of your impairments. For example, a proposed job may have requirements that make the role unsuitable for you due to your health condition or other limitations. Our attorneys can identify any omissions and rule out jobs you cannot do.
Fort PierceSocial Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 800-747-3733
Applying For Social Security Disability Benefits In Fort Pierce Does Not Have To Be Complex
Our Fort Pierce Social Security Disability lawyers have helped other people in a similar situation to you. We know the ins and outs of the SSA’s rules and regulations, the kinds of challenges you will face, and how to manage the claim process from start to finish.
Our team is dedicated to doing the best we can for you by providing the time and focus your claim deserves. We will be your ally and advocate every step and support you through the entire process, including an appeal, if necessary. Contact us today for a free case review to learn more about how we can help.
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