If you are unable to maintain regular employment due to a disabling illness or injury, you might be entitled to financial benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) provides two individual benefits programs for the disabled. However, successfully pursuing these benefits is never easy.
No matter the stage of your claim, seeking out legal counsel could be in your best interest. The right attorney could help you prepare your claim or even respond to a denial. Before you attempt to secure benefits on your own, consider a discussion with an Ocala Social Security disability lawyer.
What Are the SSA Disability Programs?
There are two individual, unique disability programs administered by SSA. Each of these programs is designed to cover disabled individuals who can no longer work, but the additional eligibility requirements vary significantly. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) provides disability benefits based on your previous work history. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offers low-income individuals financial support.
What Is SSDI?
SSDI is a disability benefits program designed to provide for members of the workforce who can no longer work full time due to an injury or illness. This program is funded by payroll tax receipts, which is why it is limited to providing for workers who have paid these taxes in recent years.
In order to qualify for SSDI, you must have earned a minimum number of work credits in the past 10 years. Typically, you can earn four work credits per year if you have a 40-hour work week. While 40 credits over 10 years will get you the maximum benefits allowed, you could be entitled to partial benefits if you have less than the full amount. An Ocala Social Security disability lawyer with our firm could review your employment records to help you understand if you qualify for SSDI benefits.
What Is SSI?
Unlike SSDI, you could qualify for SSI benefits regardless of your previous employment history. If you have never worked a day in your life, you might be entitled to SSI benefits if you can establish that you are below a certain income threshold.
SSA takes almost every form of asset into account when determining your eligibility. In addition to your earnings, you could be disqualified based on the assets you own. These limits are strictly enforced by SSA.
To consult with an experienced social security disability lawyer serving Ocala, call 855-686-6752
How Can I Prove I Am Disabled?
It is not enough to meet the income threshold for SSI benefits or the work requirement for SSDI benefits. In order to receive the financial support you need, it is also necessary for you to prove that you are disabled. According to SSA, a person is disabled when an injury or illness prevents them from taking part in substantial gainful activity. This generally means being unable to work enough to provide for themselves financially.
SSA will not take your word for it that you are disabled. In order to receive benefits, you will need proof of your disability. In some cases, this requires little more than a formal diagnosis of a specific illness or injury. SSA has compiled a list of conditions that, when diagnosed, result in an immediate finding of disability. These conditions are compiled in something known as the SSA Blue Book. Some of these conditions include:
- Skin disorders
- Endocrine disorders
- Cardiovascular issues
- Musculoskeletal disorders
- Immune system disorders
There are countless conditions listed in the Blue Book, but you could be entitled to benefits even without a diagnosis of one of them. Some conditions are impossible to definitively diagnose, especially if you are suffering from multiple illnesses. In these cases, SSA could require additional medical documentation to determine if you are disabled.
Ocala Social Security Disability Lawyer Near Me 855-686-6752
What Is the Process for Appealing a Denial?
Not every claim filed with SSA will be granted. In fact, it is not uncommon for many claims to initially be denied. The good news is that a denial could be temporary. You have the right to appeal, and if it is successful, you could recover the benefits you need.
There are multiple stages to the appellate process. While the first steps begin with an internal review, the Social Security Disability appeals process could eventually lead to a case in federal court. The appellate process includes the following steps:
The first step in the appeals process is to have your denial reconsidered by SSA. A different individual than the one who initially denied your claim will consider your case. At this stage, SSA could ask for additional documents that were not provided with your original claim.
Your right to appeal does not end with reconsideration. If the reconsideration decision is not in your favor, you still have the right to request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ could hear your case on video or in person. Your attorney could serve as your advocate at this hearing.
The final appellate level within SSA is known as the Appeals Council. The Council has the final say on which cases they take up. While you have the right to appeal any ALJ decision to the Council, there are times when they will refuse to hear your case. If your case is rejected by the Council or they rule against you, the final option in the appellate process is in federal court.
The last stage of your appeal involves filing a lawsuit in federal court. The courts are tasked with reviewing an appeal for errors. If they find an error, you could ultimately have your claim granted.
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Let an Attorney Help You Pursue Disability Benefits
With so many steps that go into a successful disability claim, it can be overwhelming to attempt this process on your own. The good news is that you have the option to seek an attorney to serve as your advocate.
The attorneys of Bogin, Munns & Munns are ready to advise you during the disability claims process. To get started with an Ocala Social Security disability lawyer, reach out for a free consultation today.