Injured and out of work? Facing a serious medical illness? If your claim for Social Security Disability was wrongfully denied, don't take no for an answer. Don't give up! A denial is only the first step in the process to getting your benefits.
Contact A Dedicated SSD Attorney Today
You can fight back to secure the compensation you need. Contact our compassionate attorneys today to learn more about your legal options in a free, confidential consultation. You can find the information you need at no charge and no obligation. Just contact our lawyers now to learn more. Best of all, we don't get paid until you receive an approval. That's right - you pay us no fee until we secure Social Security Disability benefits in your case. We assume the risk so you don't have to.
You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain, from reaching out for professional legal help. Your attorney will handle everything for you. In ideal cases, our attorneys will be able to secure an approval without you ever having to appear at a hearing. We do the heavy lifting, so you can focus on your recovery. That's our promise to our clients.
What Is Social Security Disability?
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability (SSD) are two different federal programs that provide financial benefits. While SSI is designed to provide cash assistance to people with little income, the Social Security Disability program was created to make financial benefits available to disabled Americans who are unable to work, either through illness or injury. SSD benefits are only available to people who have paid into the Social Security system, by working in a job covered by Social Security.
In most cases, the Social Security Administration pays benefits on a monthly basis to people who are unable to work for a year or more because of their disability. The benefits should continue until you are able to work again on a regular basis. As you transition back to work, some or all of your SSD benefits may continue under a variety of programs referred to as "work incentives," which make it easier for once-disabled Americans to move back into the workforce.
Are You Disabled Under Social Security?
To qualify for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have a medical condition or illness that falls under the Social Security Administration's definition of disability. The Social Security Administration uses its own definition of disability, but in all cases, the agency only approves cases of total disability. Benefits are not available for partial or short-term disability.
How SSD Disability Determinations Work
To determine if you are disabled under the Social Security program's definition, the agency will evaluate your case using a series of five questions:
- Are you working? This is not a yes or no question. The Social Security Administration evaluates how much you have earned during the year to determine if you are working enough to be disqualified for SSD benefits. According to the Social Security Administration, if you are working in 2019 and your earnings average out to be over $1,220 per month, you are unlikely to be classified as disabled.
- Is your condition severe? If the SSA determines that you are not working, your claim will be sent to the Disability Determination Services office for further processing. In order to qualify for SSD, your condition (whether due to illness or injury) must be severe enough to significantly limit your ability to perform basic work activities (such as standing, walking, sitting, lifting and cognitive tasks) for at least 12 months.
- Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions? The Social Security Administration maintains an extensive list of medical conditions that are so severe that they prevent people from pursuing gainful employment. The list is broken out by body system. If your condition appears on the list, you will be considered disabled. If your condition does not appear on the list, the agency will have to decide whether or not your condition is as severe as a condition on the list. If it is, you will be considered disabled. If not, the evaluation will proceed to step 4.
- Can you do the work you did previously? Next, the Disability Determination office will determine whether your medical impairments prevent you from performing any of the work you were able to do in the past. If it does not, you are unlikely to be classified as disabled. If it does (if your disability prevents you from performing past work), the analysis will move on to step 5.
- Can you do another type of work? If you are unable to perform the work you did in the past, the Disability Determination office will attempt to determine whether there is other work you could do despite your impairment. According to the Social Security Administration, the agency will consider "your age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills you may have." If the agency decides that you are unable to perform other lines of work, you will be considered disabled. If you can do other work, the agency will decide that you don't have a qualifying disability and your claim will be denied.
The Social Security Administration's definition of disability is strict. In evaluating claims, the agency will assume that your family has additional resources available to provide financial support during periods of short-term disability, including investments, savings, insurance and workers' compensation.
Social Security Disability Benefits & Work Credits
In addition to meeting Social Security's definition of disability, successful applicants are required to have worked long enough under Social Security to qualify for benefits. As you work in a job covered by Social Security, you earn "work credits," up to a maximum of four credits every year. Work credits are calculated based on your total annual wages or self-employment income.
The amount of wages or self-employment income needed to earn a work credit changes every year. In 2019, for example, each work credit is equal to $1,360 in wages or self-employment income. After earning $5,440, you've earned the maximum of four credits for the year. It doesn't matter when you earned these work credits; because employers only report employee earnings once a year, the Social Security Administration's calculations are based on your annual earnings. Some people work the entire year to earn four work credits, while others earn their credits within a much shorter period of time.
Earning work credits over the course of your life is very important. While the number of work credits necessary to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age, in general, applicants will need to have accrued a total of 40 credits, 20 of which must have been earned in the ten years prior to the year you became disabled. There are exceptions to this requirement for younger workers. In other cases, the credits earned by a current or divorced spouse may count towards your own credit total.
Denied Benefits? You Need Experienced Legal Counsel
We understand that navigating the Social Security system can seem daunting. Our attorneys have the experience and resources to secure approval. We know what steps to take to increase the chances of a successful application or appeal. We're always here to provide you with the experienced guidance your claim for SSD benefits deserves.
The Social Security Administration denies more claims than it approves. Your chances of success skyrocket when you work with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney. When you hire the lawyers at Justice Guardians, we'll send a strong signal to the Social Security Administration that our client is not willing to accept a claim denial. The SSA knows that our attorneys are prepared to fight tooth and nail for a successful resolution of our clients' cases.