If you’ve been diagnosed with a medical condition that impedes your ability to work, you may be eligible for government assistance. This is especially true if your condition has lasted or is expected to last for at least one year. To improve your chances of receiving benefits through the Social Security Administration (SSA), a Social Security disability lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help.
The attorneys at Thomas Law Offices are dedicated to helping people when they need it most. If you’re in a situation where your medical condition is severe and you are struggling financially, we can help you determine if you are eligible for assistance. If you choose to proceed, we can help you file your claim and tackle any issue that arises along the way. To determine if you’re eligible, let’s start by taking a look at the two programs the Social Security Administration offers.
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Social Security Disability Programs
The Social Security Administration maintains two programs that provide benefits to individuals based on disability or blindness. The programs, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), have the same criteria for determining disability that’s based on medical evidence and functionality. While the filing forms are different, SSD and SSI use the same application process and share one disability determination. To understand which program you may be eligible for, let’s take a closer look at both.
Social Security Disability Insurance
SSD provides benefits to disabled or blind individuals insured by workers’ contributions to the Social Security trust fund. The contributions are based on your earnings as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).
If you’re eligible for SSDI payments, the monthly amount is based on your lifetime average earnings covered by Social Security. The amount can be reduced if you receive workers’ compensation payment or public disability benefits. The monthly payment is typically adjusted annually to account for cost-of-living changes.
In addition to the monetary benefits, SSD also comes with health insurance coverage through Medicare. The coverage consists of hospital insurance (Part A), supplementary medical insurance (Part B), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). Voluntary prescription drug coverage (Part D). is also available.
Supplemental Security Income
SSI is available to aged, blind, and disabled persons who have limited income and resources. The funds are generated from general tax revenues. To be eligible for SSI, you need to meet the criteria for SSDI and have limited income.
Monthly payments are based on the Federal Benefit Rate (FBR). The SSA subtracts any countable income from the FBR and then adds any state supplement. The FBR is adjusted annually to account for cost-of-living changes.
SSI also comes with health insurance coverage through Medicaid. Medicaid covers certain children and some or all of the aged, blind, and disabled in a state who are eligible for federally assisted income maintenance payments.
Applying for Benefits With the Social Security Administration
You can apply for benefits from the SSA online, by phone, and in person. Regardless of which program you’re applying to, you’ll need to be able to provide certain documents, including your birth certificate, proof of United States citizenship, U.S. military discharge papers, W-2 forms, medical records, and applicable financial paperwork. Overall, your application will include the following information:
- Date and place of birth
- Marriage and divorce
- Names and dates of children
- S. military service
- Employer details for the current year and two years prior
- Self-employment details for the current year and two years prior
- Direct deposit information
- Alternate contact
- List of medical conditions
- Information about doctors and hospitals
- Other relevant medical records
- Job history
- Education and training
Once you gather that information and submit your application, the agency will verify you meet the basic requirements. Then, they will check if you worked enough years to qualify and your current work activities. Your application will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office in your state, and that office will determine if you’re eligible for benefits.
When to Seek Help From a Disability Attorney
If you’re considering filing for SSA benefits, it’s important to understand the benefits of hiring a disability lawyer. That way, you can make the best decision for yourself.
The most important reason to hire an attorney is that your chances of being approved will increase significantly. While you can file on your own, Social Security is more likely to approve an applicant who’s represented by a legal representative or advocate.
From the initial application, your attorney will understand how to present your case in a favorable light. If you’re considering seeking legal assistance with your application, the sooner you do so, the better. From the onset, your lawyer can evaluate your claim’s strength and present your case in a way that improves your chances of receiving benefits.
If you’ve already filed your claim and have been denied benefits, an attorney can help you file an appeal. While you can navigate the appeals process on your own, doing so will likely result in continued denial of benefits. Not only will working with a lawyer through the appeals process improve your chances of a favorable result, but they may also be able to move your case through the system faster if your medical condition or financial situation is dire.
How to File an Appeal
If your application for SSDI or SSI has been denied, you have 60 days to file an appeal. There are four levels of appeal, including the following:
- Reconsideration. The first step to filing an appeal is asking for a reconsideration. The reconsideration is a comprehensive review of your claim by someone who did not participate in the initial determination. They will look at the original evidence submitted, along with any new evidence.
- Administrative Law Judge Hearing. If your application is denied in the reconsideration, you can ask for a hearing. An administrative law judge who had nothing to do with the original determination or reconsideration will conduct the hearing.
- Social Security’s Appeals Council Review. If the administrative law judge denies your application for benefits, you can request an Appeals Council look at all of the requests for review. The Council can deny the request if it finds the hearing decision was made in accordance with Social Security law and regulations. If the Appeals Council decides to review your case, it will either do so itself or send it to a different administrative law judge.
- Federal Court Review. If you disagree with the Appeals Council decision, your last option is to file a civil suit in a federal district court. You only have 60 days to file this lawsuit once the Appeals Council has made its decision.
The appeals process can be complicated, especially the further along you get. When you work with a Social Security disability attorney, you’ll improve your chances of being awarded the benefits you need.
Contact Thomas Law Offices
Whether you’re looking to start the Social Security disability benefits application, or you feel you’ve been wrongfully denied, our law firm is here to help. When you work with a Social Security disability lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, you can be confident that you’re on the best track to receiving the benefits you need. To learn more, contact us today.