Social Security Disability

If you are unable to work due to a disability, you may be entitled to Social Security benefits.  The legal criteria for Social Security Disability and related benefits are very complex, and, although not required, hiring a lawyer may help you get the results you deserve more quickly and efficiently.  Trying to wade through the complicated forms and tests required by the Social Security Administration can be challenging, especially if you have already had an application declined and need to appeal. We do not charge any attorney’s fees unless you win your claim.

The two largest Federal programs that provide assistance to people with disabilities are the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) programs administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA).

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) pays benefits to you and certain members of your family if you are “insured,” meaning that you worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes.
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) is a Federal income supplement program funded by general tax dollars and pays benefits based on financial need.  It is designed to help aged, blind, and disabled people, who have little or no income; it provides cash to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter.

Requirements of Eligibility for SSDI

  • Not be working or earning less than a minimum monthly amount specified by the SSA (in 2010 it was $1,000 per month, but the amount goes up a little each year).
  • Have a physical or mental condition that is severe, can be established through medically acceptable diagnostic techniques, and is expected to last, or has lasted, at least twelve months or to result in death.  If you do not have a “severe” impairment, then you are not disabled according to the SSA.  “Severe” means if it significantly limits your physical or mental ability to do basic work activities. Examples of basic work activities include: walking, standing, sitting, lifting, pushing, pulling, reaching, carrying, and handling; seeing, hearing, and speaking; understanding, carrying out, and remembering simple instructions; use of judgment; responding appropriately to supervision, co-workers, and usual work situations; and dealing with changes in a routine work setting.
  • Not be able to do “past relevant work,” which means you must be unable to do the easiest job you have done in the past fifteen years.  You will thus have to identify your easiest job and then figure out why you cannot still do that kind of work.
  • Not be able to do other jobs that exist in the national economy considering your age, education, and work experience.  Can you make an adjustment to other work that exists in significant numbers in the economy?  This is the most complicated step in the evaluation process.  The step considers your remaining work capacity, education, work experience, and age.

In addition to these requirements, you must have paid sufficient Social Security taxes to qualify for SSDI benefits or you must meet income and asset tests to qualify for SSI.  The amount you can receive for SSDI benefits is also calculated by how many years you have worked and at what income.

Social Security Disability Denied

If your claim goes to appeal, an attorney can help you understand what the judge will want to know, what kind of witnesses (if any) you may need, and what kind of additional medical tests and forms may be required.  Two-thirds of Social Security Disability applications are denied, but do not let rejection of your application discourage you.  By developing the key aspects of your individual situation your request for benefits may very well be granted.

The process of applying for Social Security benefits may often be confusing and challenging.  Our office has a long record in the representation of clients before the administration at and prior to the hearing level.  Please contact us so that we can assist you with your application or appeal.