The Social Security Administration (SSA) offers ways to make ends meet even if you cannot work. If you suffer from a permanent impairment that prevents you from earning a living, you may qualify for these programs. Proving you meet the strict qualifications for these programs, however, is difficult. You will need to ensure your medical records and other health documentation proves you suffer from a qualifying impairment, as well as meeting a number of technical qualifications.
A Social Security disability lawyer in Patchogue, Long Island at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help you file for Social Security disability benefits or fight a denial if you already received one. We can review your claim to ensure you have all the information necessary for approval. We can also investigate your denial, and help you navigate the appeals process to secure the benefits you need and deserve.
Call us today at 631-600-0000 to schedule a free case review.
Is My Disability a Qualifying Impairment Under Social Security Administration Rules?
Social Security disability programs require you to suffer from a total, permanent disability to qualify for benefits. This means your medical records will need to document an impairment that prevents you from working and either has already lasted for a year, is expected to last for a year, or will likely lead to your death.
There are two ways you can show you suffer from a qualifying impairment. This includes:
- Having documentation in your medical records that you meet the criteria under one of the SSA’s published impairment listings; or
- Having documentation in your medical records or showing in an independent evaluation that you cannot work even a sedentary job, and receiving a residual functional capacity rating that qualifies you for benefits
As you can see, your medical records play a pivotal role in getting the benefits you need and deserve. An examiner with Disability Determination Services (DDS) will scrutinize your claim, requesting your records and then examining the medical documentation of your condition.
This will likely include:
- Diagnostic testing results
- Imaging scans
- Treatment history
- Notes from surgeons and your doctor
- Other information provided by your care providers.
To determine your eligibility, the DDS examiner will first compare your records to the criteria under any applicable impairment listing. If you meet these criteria, he can approve your claim.
If not, he will need to continue his investigation to assign you a residual functional capacity (RFC) rating. To do this, he will not only review your records but also talk to others familiar with your condition, and may even ask you to see an independent physician for an evaluation. This allows him to understand the types of activities you are capable of, for how long, and how often. If you cannot work even a sedentary job because of your impairment, you should receive approval for benefits.
If the examiner does not find the evidence he needs to show you meet the qualifications for disability, you will likely receive a denial. This is why we recommend talking with your doctor and any specialists about your application, and requesting they ensure they have accurately documented your condition in your medical records.
Are There Other Criteria to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
Before the local field office forwards your application to the disability determination examiner, it will ensure you meet the technical qualifications for the Social Security disability program you are applying for. If not, you will receive a technical denial. Below, we detail the technical qualifications for both disability benefit programs:
Social Security Disability Insurance
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you need to have earned a certain number of work credits by working and paying taxes on your income. Some of these work credits must come from recent work, which can be an issue if you took extended time off for any reason before suffering your illness or injury.
If you are still working, you must also have an earned income below the current substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit to qualify for disability. In 2018, the SGA is $1,180 per month for non-blind individuals (for blind individuals, the threshold is $1,970). It is important to note this limit applies only to earned income from a job. If you have investments or other unearned income above this amount, you can still qualify for benefits.
Supplemental Security Income
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) offers additional support for those who have an extremely low income and few assets. Because of this, you must meet strict qualifications to receive this type of monthly cash benefit. For 2018, these limits include:
- An income under $750 for an individual or $1,125 for a couple; and
- Below $2,000 in qualifying assets
What If the SSA Denied My Initial Claim?
Many people who receive SSDI and/or SSI did not receive approval of their initial claim. If the SSA denies your claim, there is no reason to panic. It may take several months, but we can often help those who qualify get the benefits they need through the appeals process. Call us as soon as possible because there are strict deadlines for filing an appeal and scheduling a hearing on your behalf.
We go to work investigating your case, and determining the reason the SSA denied your claim. Once the date of your administrative law hearing arrives, we will have a strong case for overturning your denial to present to the administrative law judge. If the judge agrees to overturn your denial, you will receive not only your monthly benefits, but also backpay for the months you waited since your initial application.
If we are not successful in getting you approved during the appeals hearing, we will continue through the appeals process to get you the benefits you deserve.
How Can I Discuss My Claim with a Social Security Disability Lawyer in Patchogue, Long Island?
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., we have a team of Social Security disability lawyers who are ready to help you get the benefits you deserve. We know what the SSA looks for in a qualifying application, and can review yours to give you the best chance at approval. If the SSA already denied your initial application, we offer guidance and support through the appeals process, including representing you in your administrative hearing.
Call our office on Long Island today at 631-600-0000 for a free consultation with a SSI or SSDI attorney.