FHB Spotlight Area of Law: Social Security Disability
on Thursday, 02 September 2021.
Often, we receive calls regarding eligibility, and the process of applying for social security disability. Going through the process of applying on your own can sometimes be somewhat difficult and frustrating. Here at FHB we can take on that burden for you and assist you with the application process. To better inform you of the social security disability process, we have laid out a few questions that can be answered to start the application process.
Who is eligible for Social Security Disability Benefits?
In order to apply for Social Security Disability, you must suffer from a permanent condition that prevents you from working. Your condition must last or be expected to last a minimum of twelve months, and you must be unable to earn an income greater than $1,000.00 per month. In addition, you must have earned sufficient work credits to qualify for Social Security Disability. This generally means that there must be a consistent work history in which Social Security taxes were paid for a combined five of the last ten years prior to becoming disabled. However, there are exceptions for applicants under the age of 22.
You do not need work credits however if you apply for Supplemental Security Income. Please do not confuse the two programs as they are separate and distinct. If you do not have sufficient work credits, you should consider applying for Supplemental Security Income. This program has other requirements too and we will be glad to help you with questions you may have and your application.
If you need to apply:
The Social Security Administration can provide disability benefits to replace lost income, which can ease your financial burden. However, the Social Security disability system is very complex, and denial rates at the initial stage of the application process are over 60%. In order to increase your chances of prevailing at the appeal process, you should consider retaining an attorney who is familiar with the entire application process and the standard proof required to obtain benefits. Most people who apply for benefits are turned down, and more people win disability appeals with legal representation than on their own.
If you have been denied:
If you have been denied Social Security Disability benefits, you can appeal! The annual number of Social Security Disability applications are at an all-time high. Due to the limited resources of the Social Security Administration and the volume of applications, more than 60% of the initial stage applications are denied. During the reconsideration stage of the appeal, the number of denied applications jumps to 80%. Given those odds, having an attorney experienced in Social Security to advocate your interest and to efficiently and correctly handle your application is extremely beneficial.
Having representation will help you know and understand your options in the case of a denial, facilitate organizing your medical records and paperwork, prepare you and your witnesses, and will have experience with the officers and judges in the area. This process can be overwhelming, and an attorney can help ease the frustration and anxiety of working through your claim.
If you have a hearing scheduled:
If Social Security has notified you that you have a hearing scheduled, you will need to make sure you present your best case initially, which means being adequately prepared and your interests represented at the initial hearing. If you are denied during the initial hearing, an appeal can take months before being heard, and success during an appeal hearing is even more difficult to achieve. We strongly recommend that legal representation be obtained immediately. Our lawyers will review your Social Security file, prepare your case, obtain necessary records and evidence, advocate on your behalf at the hearing, and question witnesses and medical experts.
If you do not receive benefits, there is no attorney fee!