The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers several programs for those who suffer from a permanent illness or injury that prevents them from working. The SSA also provides death benefits to applicants who have lost a spouse. However, applying for—and receiving—disability benefits is not as easy as it seems. These programs, including Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI), require a wealth of medical documentation proving your impairment, in addition to other stringent criteria.
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., we have a team of New York attorneys ready to go to work for you. We know what disability determination examiners are looking for when they evaluate an SSDI or SSI claim. We can ensure your application provides the necessary information. If the SSA already denied your initial claim, we can also help you navigate the appeals process and fight for the benefits you deserve. Call our office today at 631-600-0000 to make an appointment for your free case evaluation with a Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer in Bayport, Long Island. Let us get started on your disability claim.
Does My Impairment Qualify Me for Disability?
Proving you meet the SSA’s definition of “disabled” is often the most difficult part of getting the disability benefits you need. These programs require you to suffer a total, permanent disability. This disability must last for at least a year, be likely to last for at least a year, or be likely to cause your death. In addition, it must be severe enough to prevent you from holding a job and earning a living. The SSA determines this by only allowing those who earn below the current substantial gainful activity limit to receive benefits. For 2017, this limit is $1,170 a month.
There are two ways to prove you suffer from an impairment that qualifies you for disability benefits:
- Providing medical evidence showing you meet one of the qualifying conditions in the SSA’s published impairment listings;or
- Demonstrating a residual functional capacity (RFC) that precludes you from working.
No matter which method you need to use to prove your qualifying disability, your medical records will play a key role. The disability determination worker assigned to your case will scrutinize notes from your doctor, test results, treatment history, and other medical documentation from your health care providers. This is the only way they can ensure you meet the qualifying criteria. Without the proper evidence, they will deny your claim. For this reason, it is paramount you talk to your doctor about applying for benefits and ensure they document your impairments.
The disability determination examiner will first see if you meet any of the published impairment listings. If so, you will likely qualify for benefits. If not, they will review your medical records to determine your RFC. Using information from your doctor, they will examine your ability to stand, sit, and do other work-related tasks. They will also evaluate how long you can do these tasks, how often, and what types of activities you are capable of despite your impairments. Their result is your RFC. If they show you cannot work any job you previously held or might qualify for, you should qualify for SSDI or SSI benefits.
Are There Other Qualifications I Must Meet to Get Benefits?
Before the disability determination examiner even looks at your medical records, they will check to ensure you meet all technical qualifications for disability benefits. In some cases, you might receive a denial because you accidently skipped filling in your birthday or your Social Security Number does not match their records. Other parts of the technical criteria differ based on the program.
SSDI benefits help bridge the gap between when a worker suffers a disabling injury or illness and when they can begin drawing Social Security retirement benefits. It is important to note, this injury or illness does not need to be work-related.
This benefit is only available to workers. For this reason, you need to have a minimum number of work credits on your record to qualify. You also need to make below the substantial gainful activity limit. However, since this is not an income-based program, the SSA only looks at your earned income. You can make an unlimited unearned income, such as from investments, and still receive these benefits.
SSI is an income-based program designed to help individuals and families with an extremely low income make ends meet. Because of this, the SSA counts almost all income and assets when determining if you qualify. To get SSI benefits in 2017, you need to:
- Have an income under $735 per person or $1,103 per couple; and
- Hold less than $2,000 in qualifying assets or $3,000 for a couple.
When we meet to talk about your claim, we will review your information and look for any issues that might cause a technical denial of your application. This makes it easier to understand what you need to do to qualify for the benefits you need.
What If the SSA Denied My Application for Benefits?
It is not unusual to receive a denial of benefits from the SSA. Most people who qualify do end up receiving their benefits eventually. However, you need a knowledgeable disability attorney on your side to fight the denial and handle your claim in the appeals process. It is important to call us as soon as possible, because we only have a limited time to request an appeal. Missing this deadline means you must begin the application process again.
An administrative law hearing is usually the most effective way to gain approval for our clients. This step allows us to argue your case in front of an administrative law judge. If we are successful, the judge will overturn your denial. You will begin receiving monthly benefits, as well as back pay for the months you missed because of the denial.
How Can I Discuss My Claim With an SSD Lawyer in Bayport, Long Island?
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., our SSD lawyers know it is not easy to get the disability benefits you need. We will help you prepare your application and offer support and advice throughout the claims process. If the SSA already denied your claim, we can handle your appeal. Call our Long Island office today at 631-600-0000 for a free consultation.