If you have a permanent disability that prevents you from working, you may qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits to take the place of work income. However, the process to obtain said benefits can be long and complicated. You may want to seek help from a lawyer who is familiar with the application and appeals process.
A Bluffton Social Security Disability attorney from George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers is here to help you with all aspects of your case. Learn more about the application process and eligibility criteria during a free case review.
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SSDI vs. SSI
Before you submit an application for Social Security Disability benefits, you need to know which program to apply for. Your general options are SSDI or SSI.
What You Should Know About SSDI Benefits
SSDI pays benefits to disabled individuals based on their work history and the amount of payments they have made in Social Security taxes. You must have worked long enough to earn a sufficient number of work credits to be eligible for these benefits. You earn one work credit per quarter that you work. Benefits can also be paid to certain family members.
What You Should Know About SSI
SSI disability program is a needs-based program available to disabled individuals who meet income and asset criteria and do not have sufficient work history to qualify for SSDI benefits. SSA reports that recipients cannot have countable income that is more than $783 in 2020 or countable resources of more than $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a married couple.
SSI recipients are also under an ongoing obligation to report their income to the Social Security Administration. There are complex rules surrounding what income and assets are counted, so you may still qualify for benefits if your income or assets exceed these limits.
Speak with a Social Security Disability lawyer in Bluffton from George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers for information specific to your situation.
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What You Need to Know About the Social Security Application Process
Besides accounting for your work history or assets and income, the application process for SSI or SSDI benefits is the same. You start by completing an application for benefits. You must show that your condition is terminal or is expected to last one year or longer. The qualifying condition must be a physical or mental impairment that prevents you from performing any substantial gainful activity.
During the initial application, you will:
- Provide information to confirm your identity
- Provide information about your work history, education, and physical and mental limitations
- Include your medical evidence to show that you meet the criteria
- Provide additional supporting documentation
The Social Security Administration can also request that you undergo physical or mental exams to get additional information, if your medical history is not adequate to show your disability.
If you are approved at this stage, you will receive a letter from SSA that states that you were approved, which identifies your disability onset date, and describes what benefits you will receive and when you will receive them. If your application is denied, you can appeal the decision.
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Information About the Levels of Appeal
Most claims are initially denied at the initial application stage, but many are approved at one of the later stages of appeal. If your application is subsequently approved, you can receive back benefits for the months your case was being appealed.
The notice you receive will inform you if your claim was denied, how you can appeal, and your deadline to appeal. The levels of appeal in order are:
The first level of appeal is reconsideration. You submit a request for reconsideration and can also submit additional supporting evidence to support your claim.
The next level of appeal is a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. Some people hire a disability lawyer to help with this process. During the hearing, you will testify about your disability and its impact on your life. You may have other witnesses testify as well. In some situations, your doctor or a medical expert may also testify.
The Administrative Law Judge will ask you questions about your disability. There may also be a vocational expert who will give an opinion about the type of work that you may be able to perform. Your lawyer can cross-examine the vocational expert and ask about whether you could work under certain conditions or not.
The judge will not usually issue an immediate decision. Instead, he or she will review your case and the evidence presented. At this level, one of the following outcomes will occur:
- The judge approves your claim
- The judge denies your claim
- The judge sends your case back for review
The next level of appeals is the Appeals Council. You must typically file an adverse decision at the hearing level within 60 days of receiving the decision. At this level of appeal, the Appeals Council only considers if the administrative law judge made an error.
The Appeals Council reviews your entire case file. Like at the hearing level, there are three possible outcomes: your claim is denied, your claim is approved, or your claim is remanded to the lower level.
Federal District Court
Your last level of appeal is to file an appeal with the federal district court. At this stage, you can ask the court to award you benefits. It can do so, or it can deny your claim or remand it to the Social Security Administration.
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Contact Us Today for Help With Your Claim
If you are permanently disabled and are unable to work, a Social Security Disability lawyer in Bluffton from George Sink, P.A. Injury Lawyers can help you with all aspects of your claim from your initial application to all levels of our appeal.
We only receive payment for our attorney fees if your claim is approved. Call us today or fill out our online contact form for more information and to get started with the process.
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