There are two government benefit programs that offer monthly cash benefits for those who suffer from a permanent impairment and cannot work. The Social Security Administration (SSA) administers these programs, which are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). These benefits are key in making ends meet for those who qualify, but submitting a qualifying application is often more difficult than it may seem.
The team of disability lawyers from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., have helped countless clients get the benefits they need and deserve. We have an inside view of the disability determination process and know what a qualifying claim looks like. This allows us to ensure your application is complete before you apply. If the SSA already issued a denial based on your initial application, we will represent you in your appeals hearing and present a case for overturning the denial. Call our New York office today at 631-600-0000 for a free case evaluation with a Social Security Disability lawyer in Holbrook, Long Island.
Do I Meet the Criteria for Disability Benefits?
The SSA has stringent rules outlining which medical conditions are qualifying impairments. It considers only those who suffer from a total, permanent disability for benefits. At a minimum, your medical records should show you suffer from a disabling medical condition that has lasted for a year, will most likely last for a year, or will probably lead to your death. In addition, it must be severe enough to prevent you from working.
Disability determination examiners from the SSA will look for evidence in your medical records that you qualify for benefits by:
- Meeting the criteria under your condition in the SSA impairment listings; or
- Having a residual functional capacity (RFC) that shows you cannot work.
Because your medical records and other documents from your doctor are the only information the SSA has about your health, they play a key role in whether or not you receive approval. The disability determination examiner will pore over test results, treatment history, notes from your doctor, and other files. This allows them to determine if you meet the criteria under any applicable impairment listings. If not, they will continue reviewing your medical documentation and assign you an RFC based on the information in your records—or after a medical exam with a doctor.
Your RFC outlines your ability to perform basic work, self-care, and everyday tasks. It considers how often you can do these tasks and for how long. If your impairments prevent you from completing these activities, you likely have a qualifying disability.
If your medical evidence does not clearly show you suffer from a qualifying impairment—or several impairments that together prevent you from working—the SSA will deny your claim. For this reason, we recommend discussing your disability application with your doctor before you file for benefits. One of the most common reasons for a denial is that a qualifying applicant’s doctor did not fully document their impairments.
Are There Other Criteria I Must Meet to Qualify for SSDI and SSI Benefits?
Not meeting the medical criteria is only one reason you might receive a denial from the SSA. Technical denials are also common. These occur when you fail to meet one of the technical criteria for qualification. The local field office checks this part of your application before forwarding it on for final approval.
The technical criteria you must meet vary depending on the program.
Technical Criteria in the SSDI Program
SSDI is a benefit program to help disabled workers who can no longer earn a living. For this reason, the program requires you to earn a specific number of work credits each year. The number you need depends on your age, but in general you will need to work at least part time for several years before applying. In addition, if you are working, you must earn below the current substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit. This includes only income earned from working, not investments or other unearned income. For 2018, the SGA limit is $1,180 per month.
SSI Technical Criteria
Unlike SSDI, SSI is a need-based program. It has specific income restrictions and asset limits you must meet to qualify for monthly benefits. The SSA counts earned and unearned income when determining if you qualify for this program. If you are married, your spouse’s income is important, as well.
For 2018, your income must be under the Federal benefit amount of $750 per person or $1,125 per couple. There is a $2,000 limit on assets for individuals—and a $3,000 limit for couples—but there are some important exclusions. We can help you understand if you meet these qualifications when we review your claim.
What If the SSA Denied My Disability Claim?
Many people must fight for the benefits they deserve, including filing an appeal and taking their case in front of an administrative law judge. If you receive a letter from the SSA stating you do not qualify for benefits, do not panic. Just give us a call as soon as possible, so we can request an appeal of your denial. It is important to call quickly. There are tight deadlines that apply to requesting an appeal hearing.
We can get to the bottom of any issues with your claim and collect evidence to demonstrate why you qualify. If your medical records are missing key components, we can help you find a doctor and ensure they document your impairments accurately. When the date of your hearing comes, we will present your case in front of an administrative law judge. Usually, we are able to get qualifying clients approved for benefits during this hearing. This allows you to begin drawing disability benefits and receive the back pay you deserve beginning from the date of your application.
How Can I Talk to a Disability Lawyer in Holbrook, Long Island?
The lawyers from Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help you understand how to claim disability in New York. We can help prepare your claim, double-check it, and even file it for you. If you already received a letter of denial from the SSA, we can fight for the SSDI or SSI benefits you deserve. Call our office today at 631-600-0000 for a complimentary consultation.