SSDI is designed to pay benefits to you and to certain qualifying family members if you’ve worked long enough and paid enough into Social Security taxes. To qualify for SSDI, you need to meet two earning tests that also factor in your age when you first became disabled.
SSI is entirely different from SSDI, and was created to meet the basic needs of people who have little or no income. This can include people who are disabled, blind, and/or aged.
If you do qualify for SSDI from an earnings standpoint, the next factor that will be considered is whether you meet carefully defined disability requirements, which stipulates that you’re unable to work because of a medical condition, and this condition must be expected to last at least one year or to ultimately result in death. In other words, this is not a short-term disability program or a partial one. There are other programs to address that.
Taking the time to learn about the Social Security disability system is one way to improve your chances for approval. The Division of Disability Determinations (DDD) is responsible for making decisions regarding the medical eligibility of Florida residents. The DDD also oversees Florida’s “medically needy” program as well as conducting Social Security disability case reviews of existing beneficiaries under federal law, and determining continued program eligibility. Once the review is completed by the DDD, the Social Security disability benefits application is returned to either the local Social Security Administration office or the Department of Children and Families for a final determination of eligibility and the effectuation of Social Security benefits.
If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with a Social Security attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation, please contact us online or call 904-251-1111 or 1-800-251-1111 today.
Our Social Security disability lawyers can review the details of your disability claim and provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation regarding your legal options. When a client is seeking disability benefits under the Social Security Act, the application for consideration is filed at the local Social Security field office. If you are seeking compensation under the state’s Medically Needy benefits program, a properly documented application is filed with the Department of Children and Families. In both cases, your claim will be forwarded to the Division of Disability Determinations for approval of medical eligibility for disability benefits.
It’s impossible to know how long it will take for approval of a Social Security disability claim, although it can take up to five months for the application to be processed. So, be sure to apply as soon as you become disabled. Ways you can apply include the following:
Apply online at www.socialsecurity.gov or via one of the following numbers:
You’ll need to fill out multiple forms as part of your application, including the basic form, as well as those used to collect information about your specific medical conditions. Filling out these forms also gives healthcare professionals permission to provide information about your conditions. To apply, you’ll need the following information:
This can seem overwhelming. To help, here are some of the pitfalls to be avoided when seeking compensation for Social Security benefits:
It’s important not to apply either too early or too late. f you apply too soon, you may have a hard time proving that your condition qualifies or that it is expected to last for at least 12 months. By applying too soon, the person reviewing your application may assume your situation might improve. Also, don’t wait too long—you may have exhausted your financial resources by the time you apply, which makes the situation harder on you than it needs to be. Once your initial application is submitted, it’s important to meet any deadlines given by Social Security so that you don’t need to start your application all over again.
Be sure to gather information, records, and all other relevant documentation on all your medical conditions; this includes but is not limited to the ones that are most limiting. Social Security reviews each of your conditions singly, but it also reviews how it would limit you in tandem, so listing them all can work to your benefit. Failing to do so, such as omitting issues like anxiety or depression, can work to your detriment. One of the best things you can do to help ensure your chances for success is to fully and accurately complete your application.
If you miss any deadlines, as mentioned above, you’ll need to start your claim process all over again, which can be quite costly. If you’ve missed a deadline for an appeal for reasons out of your control, it can make sense to consult a Social Security attorney because there are reasons considered a “good cause” for missing this deadline. Reasons can include circumstances that prevented you from following through, confusion over what was required from you (including but not limited to language or educational barriers), and more.
People who review your claim at Social Security will want to verify that the information you’re providing overall is credible. They’ll check to see if you’ve consulted with a doctor for your condition and if you’ve followed what the doctor told you to do to try to improve your condition. If what you list on your application doesn’t match what your doctor says and/or you didn’t follow through on his or her orders, this can hurt your ability to be awarded SSDI.
If you’ve been denied Social Security benefits, you are entitled to a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If, after appearing in front of an ALJ, you are still denied—and you still believe the decision is in error—you can file a request for review with the Appeals Council. It’s crucial that you not allow your discouragement over previous denials prevent you from being well prepared for any hearings. Because the judge can see you, talk to you, and question you during the appeals process, this is your best chance to finally get approval for benefits.
It is extremely important to show up for any and all hearings in the process of obtaining Social Security benefits. If there is a reason that precluded your ability to appear, it’s crucial that you provide the Social Security Department with documentation about the “good cause” that prevented you from appearing at your hearing. We can help.
Perhaps between the time you initially filed for SSDI and the time that your application was denied, you’ve acquired new medical information to share. That may well help your claim and often happens; but, rather than filing a new claim, make sure to file an appeal. There’s nothing to gain from filing a new application, and plenty to lose if you don’t follow the appeals process.
Social Security law is unique, a form of law that stands by itself using grids to determine who is eligible. If, for example, you fall and have a certain level of a back problem, you might be eligible. If the results aren’t quite that bad, you may not be eligible. So, it’s important that you consult with an attorney who understands the grid system and accompanying requirements, and who regularly deals with judges on this particular issue.
At a high level, the grid includes your age, level of education, work history and skills, and your Residual Functional Capacity (RFC) that helps to determine your functional capacity after taking your physical or mental disability into account. Your RFC, for example, might be determined to be sedentary, light, medium, or heavy work.
Under the federal Social Security Disability Act, disability is defined as the inability of an individual to engage in substantial gainful activity by reason of physical or mental impairment. The impairment must be medically determined by a physician and must be expected to last for a period longer than 12 contiguous months. Because of the uncertainty as to when approval may occur, you should file a Social Security disability claim as soon as it is determined that you will not be able to work. The SSDI and SSI programs are not intended for compensation of short-term accidental disability. In fact, most of the medical conditions that are approved for SSDI or SSI can be expected to last until the claimant’s death.
At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we start with a free consultation where we gather the basic facts of your situation to determine if it makes sense to move forward with the claim. We’ll review your medical records and, if filing, have you sign a medical release form. You may need to undergo additional medical testing and we’ll determine what medical documentation to collect before submitting your application to the Social Security Administration.
Your application will be reviewed to ensure you meet basic requirements for SSDI, as well as your work situation. If requirements are met, then your case will be forwarded to the Disability Determination Services office in the state where you live. This office gathers information from your doctors and reviews the evidence, making the initial decision. You’ll be sent a letter that details if you’ve been approved, the amount of your benefits, and when they will start. If your application isn’t approved, you’ll receive a letter stating the reasons why and how to appeal at an SSDI hearing.
If you need to go to a SSDI hearing, our Social Security lawyers will prepare you for what to expect, including what questions you’ll likely need to answer. They may include what your symptoms are, when they reached the point where you could no longer work, what doctors you’re currently seeing and have seen, what medications you’re taking, what treatments you’ve tried, whether you’re able to do your own cooking or cleaning and other acts to be self-sufficient, what you used to be able to do but no longer can, and what a typical day is like for you.
The reality is that Social Security approves more applicants who are represented by a lawyer than those who aren’t. At Harrell & Harrell, P.A., we have extensive experience in gathering information and presenting your case in a way that can be most helpful to you. We know how the grid works and what requirements exist for SSDI approval, from listing the onset date of your disability to explaining your impairments and more. The earlier you contact us, the better—and, since the initial consultation is free, there’s nothing to lose. We can help you to evaluate how strong your claim is.
Note that it’s also possible to receive retroactive SSDI benefits as far back as 12 months before you apply if you meet all the requirements. Again, we can help.
You are entitled to have legal representation throughout the entire process, from the filing of your initial claim to any reviews that reach the federal court. It can be useful to have representation from the start so you file in the best way possible from the beginning, and it is highly recommended that you obtain help from a Social Security attorney if you’ve been denied benefits.
If you are seeking compensation for Social Security benefits or disability income, call Harrell & Harrell, P.A., today at 904-251-1111 or toll free 1-800-251-1111 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our Social Security disability lawyers.
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