If you have a long-term, total disability that prevents you from earning a living and makes it hard to make ends meet, you may rely on benefits from Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) to help you pay your rent or mortgage, buy food and other necessities, and cover your utility payments.
For many people, disability benefits are vital to their survival after a health condition or injury forces them to stop working. No matter if you need assistance fighting a denial of your initial claim or keeping the Social Security Administration (SSA) from stopping your monthly cash benefits, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Fort Lauderdale, FL, can help. At the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine, our disability team is ready to help you fight for the benefits you need. Call 1-800-747-3733 today to talk to a member of our South Florida team about your situation.
How to Prove You Qualify for Disability
To qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits, you have to suffer from a serious medical condition that meets strict standards. This condition must prevent you from working and last at least a year. If you can show your condition began more than a year ago or will last more than a year—and it prevents you from working—you will likely qualify for benefits.
For most people, proving they suffer from a qualifying impairment and have a full disability is the most difficult part of getting disability benefits. The medical qualifications of this program are listed in a book of impairment listings known as the Blue Book.
Meeting the Criteria in the Blue Book
The Blue Book lists the criteria to get benefits based on dozens of medical conditions. In most cases, simply receiving the diagnosis is not enough. You need to have medical evidence to prove you meet the specific criteria listed for your condition.
Almost all conditions require you to submit a range of medical evidence to prove your impairment is severe and meets the applicable criteria. This evidence often includes clinical and laboratory testing results and medical imaging scans. The SSA will also want to see the treatment and outcome notes, and other information about your condition as recorded in your medical records.
Qualifying for Benefits If You Do Not Meet Blue Book Criteria
If you do not meet the criteria in the impairment listing for your condition, you may still qualify for benefits based on your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC). This assessment of your abilities will tell the SSA disability examiner handling your application:
- How long you can work;
- The type of work you are capable of; and
- How often you can work.
If your RFC shows you cannot work, you should receive approval for benefits—as long as you meet the technical qualifications, too.
Meeting the Technical Qualifications for Disability Benefits
Meeting the technical qualifications is another important step to qualify for disability. Each program has technical criteria you must meet. These qualifications involve your work history, your income, and your personal assets.
To qualify for SSDI benefits, you must:
- Be unable to work because of your health condition;
- Have a monthly earned income below the 2018 Substantial Gainful Activity limit of $1,180 for most disabled individuals; and
- Have the required number of work credits based on your age and work history.
To meet the SSI eligibility requirements, you must provide proof that you:
- Have a household income below the 2018 federal benefit rate of $750 for an individual or $1,125 for a couple; and
- Have resources that do not total more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.
How We Can Help If You Already Applied for Disability Benefits
Our team may be able to help you get and keep the disability benefits you need. Our services cover a variety of common situations associated with benefits from the SSA.
The Appeals Process
The SSA denies many of the initial applications it receives for these disability programs. If this happens to you, you will need to navigate the appeals process and will likely have to appear in front of an Administrative Law Judge to argue why you deserve benefits.
Our denial and reconsideration lawyers can handle the appeals process for you by:
- Requesting your appeals hearing;
- Investigating why the SSA denied your claim;
- Collecting additional medical evidence or other proof of your condition;
- Preparing your case for the appeals hearing;
- Representing you to the Administrative Law Judge;
- Arguing for the benefits you deserve; and
- Securing monthly benefits and backpay for you, when possible.
Representing You During a Review
The SSA regularly reviews all disability cases to ensure that recipients still qualify for benefits. During this process, the SSA will take another look at your qualifying impairment and your technical qualifications. This can be a nerve-wracking time for you if you rely on these benefits to help you provide for your family and yourself.
In most cases, this is not a big deal. The SSA reviews your latest information and finds you still meet the strict criteria to continue receiving benefits. Sometimes, though, the SSA might try to stop your SSDI or SSI benefits based on new information discovered during this review.
If this happens to you, we can offer advice and representation to help you fight this. We will aggressively work to show you still qualify for benefits, and help you navigate the process to appeal the SSA’s decision.
If the SSA Suspends Your Benefits
Occasionally, the SSA will notify you that it plans to suspend your benefits. This may happen if the organization believes you no longer qualify based on your income or other factors. This could also happen if the SSA believes you broke one of its program rules, such as not reporting a return to work.
We can help you fight this type of suspension, and may be able to ensure you retain your monthly benefits throughout the suspension appeals process. You only have a short time to act after a notice of suspended benefits, though. We recommend you contact us quickly to ensure there is no interruption in your monthly benefits.
Talk to a Disability Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale Today.
The disability team from the Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine will help you fight to get or keep the benefits you need and deserve. Call us today at 1-800-747-3733 for a free case evaluation and consultation with a member of our Fort Lauderdale team.