What is Social Security Disability Law?
Social Security disability law decides who will qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplementary Security Income (SSI) benefits and how much they will be compensated. SSDI is for adults who become disabled and unable to work for at least one year. Benefits are only available to those who have paid into the system by way of payroll taxes and have not reached retirement age. SSI is designed for disabled people with little or no income, whether or not they have paid anything into the system.
Social Security Disability Eligibility
Eligibility for SSI is based on income level and inability to work rather than work credits like other disability benefits. The following criteria must apply:
- The applicant’s condition must be severe. The social security administration classifies severe versus non-severe by whether or not they significantly interfere with the individual’s activities of daily living. For adults, this will reflect in the ability to participate in work activity. For children, disability will be reflected in the child’s ability to participate in age-appropriate activities.
- The condition in which the claimant is applying for disability must last at least 12 months. If the medical records show that the condition is severe and disabling, but will become a non-severe and non-disabling state before one year, he/she will be denied.
- The condition must inflict such physical or mental limitations that it eliminates the claimant’s ability to work for one of their former jobs.
Social Security Disability Claim
To file a claim, one can go online or to the Social Security office. Expect the following steps to occur:
- Review the adult disability check-list on the disability website.
- Complete the Social Security disability application.
- Complete the adult disability form.
- Indicate you want to file for Supplemental Security Income disability benefits. Your Social Security office will contact you for information.
- Fill out and sign the Authorization to Disclose Information form SSA 827. This can be done electronically or you can print and mail the form to the Social Security office.
All these steps must be completed, or the application will not be considered complete. Another way to file for disability is through your Social Security office either over the phone or in person.
Appeal the Decision
Only one-third of claims are approved at the initial level. Here are the steps to take if your claim was denied:
- File an appeal as soon as possible. If you were denied benefits at the initial level, you should appeal within 60 days of the date on the denial notice. In most states, you can file an appeal by completing a form called a Request of Reconsideration.
- Request a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If you are denied again after your claim has been reviewed a second time, you should file a request for an ALJ hearing.
- Request a review by the Appeals Council. If your claim has been denied at the ALJ hearing, you can appeal to Social Security’s Appeals Council. This council reviews the hearing decisions and has the power to send cases back to judges when they make a mistake. It can take up to a year to get a decision from the Appeals Council. If your claim is denied at this stage, you can file an appeal to Federal Court.
- Seek a Disability Lawyer. Consider getting help from a Social Security disability attorney or representative as soon as possible.
Hire a Disability Lawyer
Applying for disability can be a challenging process. What most people do not know is that it can take between 2-4 years. Hiring a disability lawyer will help you with the following:
- Avoid common errors. Professional help will make the difference between success and failure. A lawyer familiar with SSI benefits can protect you from common errors that harm your chances of approval.
- Pay attention to details. If you don’t have a strong case, the lengthy process may be worthless. Even if you meet all the requirements to receive benefits, you may be rejected because you did not file properly. Fact is, about 70% of all initial claims are rejected which is why it is highly recommended to hire a lawyer.
- Experience matters. Search for a lawyer that is experienced in all types of disability cases. You’ll want a lawyer who knows the social security system and is willing to do what it takes to win benefits for their client.
- Submit the application. Your attorney will develop your claim based off the information you give him/her.
- Your lawyer will help you file reconsideration and then send it to Disability Determination Services (DDS).
Filing for Social Security Disability can be confusing and challenging to say the least. An application must be filled out completely with no mistakes. Even then, it is common to receive a denial. Knowing there is help readily available to you can ease your frustration and help with the process. Experienced Legal Experts are available online to answer all your questions.