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If you suffer from a disability that makes it impossible to work, Social Security disability benefits may be the only option that allows you to continue paying your bills and caring for your family. However, the process of obtaining these benefits is often complicated. In many cases, it requires the knowledge and experience of a Social Security disability lawyer to ensure you present your claim in the best way possible.
Do I qualify for Social Security disability?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “disability” as an inability to perform “substantial gainful activity.” In order to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you must:
- Not be able to return to your current job
- Not be able to obtain other work because of your condition
- Have a disability that has lasted or will last for at least one year, or result in death
The SSA’s Listing of Impairments lays out criteria that the SSA uses when evaluating your condition and whether it qualifies as disabled by its definition. The Listing contains many conditions, some of which include:
- Heart failure
- Multiple sclerosis
- Cerebral palsy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Mental disabilities
- Chronic kidney disease
- Terminal cancer
But being diagnosed with a condition that is on the SSA’s Listing of Impairments does not mean automatic approval. Each condition has its own specific criteria that you must meet before the SSA will consider your condition disabling. Even if a doctor diagnosed you with Lupus, for example, you must be able to prove that you meet the criteria in that listing, or that your condition otherwise qualifies because it is severe, will last 12 months or longer or result in death, and prevents you from working.
Similarly, even if your impairment is not on the SSA’s list, you may still recover benefits if your condition is severe, will last 12 months or longer or result in death, and prevents you from working. A disability lawyer can help you determine if you qualify.
What other requirements must I meet to get Social Security disability?
There are two types of disability benefits from the Social Security Administration: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Each has its own criteria to qualify.
Qualifying for SSDI
In addition to the meeting the qualifications the SSA sets forth for defining you as “disabled,” you also need to have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI benefits.
You can earn up to four credits each year. The number you need to qualify depends on your age at the time you became disabled, with younger workers needing fewer credits than older workers.
Qualifying for SSI
SSI is a disability benefit for disabled people with low income and resources. To qualify for SSI, you must:
- If you are under 65 years old you must be blind, or otherwise completely disabled;
- Have limited income and limited resources; and
- You must be a U.S. citizen or eligible alien residing in the United States.
- If you are over the age of 65, there are some situations where you may not need to be totally disabled to qualify.
The SSA does not require work credits to receive SSI.
The income level required to qualify for SSI benefits is very low, but the Administration does not count all types of income or resources toward your total. In some cases, you may receive a reduced amount of SSI based on your income or other available resources.
How much can I receive in SSDI benefits?
The amount you receive once approved for Social Security disability benefits depends on your average earnings over the course of your lifetime. Only earnings on which you paid Social Security taxes count toward this average.
The Social Security Administration pays benefits monthly. Your lawyer may be able to help you get a good idea of your possible monthly payment.
Can I appeal a denial of benefits?
The disability appeals process can be confusing, but a Dallas Social Security disability lawyer can help simplify this process and help you get an approval more quickly.
There are multiple levels of the appeals process, although you only have to continue until the SSA approves your application. For some people, only the first one or two steps are necessary. These four steps include:
- Hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ)
- Appeals Council review
- Filing a lawsuit in federal court
When you request a reconsideration, you are asking for a review of your disability claim. A reviewer who was not involved in reviewing your initial application will perform the reconsideration.
If the SSA denies your claim after the reconsideration, you can appeal the decision and schedule a hearing before an ALJ. You have 60 days from the time of your denial to request this hearing.
If the ALJ denies your claim, your attorney can ask the Appeals Council to hear your case. It selects cases at random, and does not have to accept your claim for review.
The final step in fighting a denial is filing a lawsuit in federal court. This can be an expensive and time-consuming process, so it is important to discuss your case in detail with a Dallas Social Security disability lawyer before deciding to move forward. If you do file suit, a federal judge will hear your case in a U.S. court.
Do I need help from Lovins Trosclair to get the benefits I need?
Call Lovins Trosclair for help with your Social Security disability claim. We work to get you the benefits you deserve as soon as possible. We know what the SSA is looking for when it reviews your case, and we work to build a case that meets the SSA’s criteria. We offer free case evaluations, and you pay nothing until we secure your benefits. Contact us today, and let us go to work for you.