If you’re considering filing a Social Security disability claim, it’s important to understand that the majority of claims are denied. The appeals process can be overwhelming, especially without guidance from a knowledgeable legal representative.
While you have the option to apply for benefits without the aid of an attorney, doing so could cost you. That’s why we recommend working with a Chicago Social Security disability lawyer from Thomas Law Offices. We can help you prepare or appeal a claim by obtaining up-to-date medical records, getting detailed records from your doctors who have documented your disability, preparing and submitting your initial application, and guiding you through the appeals process if your initial claim is denied.
While there’s no guarantee your claim for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) will be approved, working with experienced Chicago lawyers will improve your odds and ensure your case is as strong as it can be.
Table of Contents
The History of the Social Security Act
On June 8 in 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced to Congress his intention to provide an economic security program called Social Security. Six months later, in January 1935, the Committee on Economic Security released its report to the President on how the program could work. The Social Security Act was signed into law on August 14, 1935.
Two major provisions of the Act related to the elderly. Title I included grants to states for Old-Age Assistance, and Title II had federal Old-Age Benefits. In addition, a new social insurance program also sought to address the long-range problem of economic security for the aged.
When Social Security began providing payments, it did so in the form of a single lump-sum payment. The purpose of the one-time payment was to compensate those individuals who contributed to the program but would not participate long enough to be vested for monthly benefits. It wasn’t until the beginning of 1940 that Social Security benefits started coming in the form of monthly benefits.
Amendments were made through the 20th century. However, it wasn’t until nearly two decades after the program’s start that assistance for the disabled was available. Today, there are strict regulations in place to determine who is eligible for Social Security disability payments.
Benefits for People With Disabilities
The SSDI and SSI programs are the largest Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities. While the programs are different, they are both administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and are for individuals who have a disability and meet specific medical criteria.
The SSDI program pays benefits to disabled individuals and certain family members, like dependents, if the person applying is insured. This means that they worked long enough and recently enough to have paid Social Security taxes on their earnings. SSDI benefits are based on a person’s earnings, or those of their spouse or parents, as required by the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). Title II of the Social Security Act is what authorizes SSDI benefits.
SSDI is provided through a disability trust fund. The minimum qualifications include meeting the disability criteria and being insured as a result of personal contributions, as we discussed above. In regard to health insurance coverage, those eligible for SSDI have access to Medicare, which consists of hospital insurance (Part A), supplementary medical insurance (Part B), and Medicare Advantage (Part C). In addition, voluntary prescription drug benefits (Part D) are also available.
The SSI program is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax revenues—not Social Security. The program is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people with little to no income. The money provided is to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.
To be eligible for SSI, a person must meet Social Security’s disability criteria and have limited income and resources. In regard to health care, Medicaid is available. Medicaid is a jointly-funded Federal-State health insurance program. Certain children, some or all of the aged, blind, and disabled who are eligible to receive federally assisted income maintenance payments can receive Medicaid.
How Disability Is Determined
While the SSDI and SSI programs are different, the medical requirements are the same. If an applicant meets the non-medical requirement criteria, monthly benefits are paid if the medical condition is expected to last at least one year or ultimately result in death. When you submit your claim, the examiner assigned to your case will consider the following:
- Are you currently employed?
- How severe is your condition?
- Is your condition on the List of Disabling Impairments?
- Can you do the work you previously did?
- Are there other types of work you can do?
If you’re currently employed, your gross earnings have to be below a certain threshold. If they are, your condition has to interfere with basic work activities. The Social Security Administration maintains a list of medical conditions it considers severe enough to automatically disable someone for each major body system. Common injuries that qualify for disability benefits include traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, severe burns, and hearing or vision loss. If a condition is not on the list, the SSA will decide if it’s equitable to something on the list.
In the event your condition is severe but does not match up to something on the list, the Administration will look into whether your illness or injury affects your ability to do the work you previously did. If it does, the examiner will determine if you can do any other job. They’ll look at your medical condition, age, education, past work experience, and any transferable skills to make that determination.
It’s important to note that the examiner does not have to consider that you may not be hired for a job or if that job they think you can do is readily available. That salary is also not a consideration. The only factors that an examiner will look at to determine if you can work are whether you are physically, emotionally, and mentally capable of performing an appropriate job based on your education and work background.
Filing an Appeal for a Denied SSI or SSDI Claim
If you’ve been denied for SSI or SSDI, you’re not alone. When you work with a Chicago disability benefits attorney, they will be able to help you file an appeal or attend a hearing. Depending on your situation, you could be dealing with disability reconsideration, disability hearings before administrative law judges, appeals council reviews, or judicial reviews before the U.S. District Court.
Once you’ve been denied, it’s essential to understand you only have 60 days to file an appeal. Missing the deadline will mean having to start the entire process over again. A Social Security lawyer can help you file on time and complete the process electronically, which is a more reliable way of filing than sending paperwork through the mail.
In the event you are denied twice, you have the option to request a hearing. At that stage of the disability adjunction and the review process, you will have the right to appear before a judge who will see you and listen to your story. Then, with an attorney by your side, you’ll be able to present a strong case for your right to disability benefits.
Why You Should Hire a Chicago Social Security Disability Lawyer
From the outset of applying for Social Security benefits, the process can seem overwhelming and confusing. To ensure your case is adequately presented, it’s essential to work with a reliable, experienced attorney.
According to the SSA, claimants who submitted their requests with a legal representative are more likely to win than those without an attorney. In the event your claim is denied, and you end up in front of an Administrative Law Judge, it’s important to be backed by someone who is skilled in law and has resources in medicine.
When it comes down to it, you will give yourself the best chance at success when you work with an SSI lawyer. Not only will they have a comprehensive understanding of the claims process and the applicable laws and policies, but they will ensure you understand your rights and how best to proceed.
Get Help From Thomas Law Offices
No matter where you are in applying for SSI or SSDI, a Chicago Social Security disability lawyer from Thomas Law Offices can help. We handle claims throughout Illinois, and we’re prepared to take your case on next.
Once you get ahold of our office, we’ll collect comprehensive information about your situation, including medical records, employment records, and any other applicable documentation. Then, we’ll manage everything we need to ensure you have the chance to file a strong case. Once we’re prepared, we’ll submit your application for benefits and wait. If those benefits aren’t granted, we’ll stay by your side to ensure you receive what you’re entitled to during the appeals process. To learn more about applying for benefits or how to file a successful appeal, schedule a consultation with our law firm today.