Disability programs offer a way to make ends meet when you are no longer able to work due to a permanent disability. Depending on your work history, income, and other information, you may qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or both programs. Social Security benefits can also include death benefits for widows and widowers.
The New York state lawyers at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help you understand which programs you likely qualify for and prepare your application. We can also help you collect documentation of your qualifications and navigate the appeals process if the Social Security Administration (SSA) denied your initial claim. Call our office today at 631-600-0000 to schedule a time to discuss your situation with a Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer in Sayville, Long Island.
What Disabilities Qualify for Disability Benefits?
The SSA only recognizes total, permanent disabilities. This means you must suffer from your disability for at least a year, have proof doctors expect it to last for at least another year, or evidence that it is likely terminal. In addition, if you can work and earn more than the current substantial gainful activity limit—$1,170 per month for 2017—they will not consider you disabled.
Simply claiming you are not able to work for an extended period is not enough to prove to the SSA you suffer from a qualifying disability. Instead, you must meet the criteria they publish for your specific medical condition. Known as impairment listings, this book provides the guidelines for the medical proof they need to see to approve your claim.
Your medical records, notes from doctors, and other medical documentation of your injury, illness, or impairment all play a key role in securing these benefits. The SSA is looking for evidence in your file of very specific test results, imaging scans, and treatment outcomes. If this is not present in your file, you are unlikely to qualify for benefits. For this reason, you may want to discuss your application with your doctor before you file your claim.
If your condition is not listed in this book—or if you do not meet the criteria outlined there—this does not mean you cannot get disability benefits. It does, however, mean they will need to see more extensive evidence of your condition in your medical records or require an independent exam before they can approve your claim. This is necessary because they must determine your residual functional capacity (RFC). This statement of abilities includes how long you can work, in what capacity, and how often. If your medical records show you cannot work your last job, any other job you have the training to perform, or a job that only requires unskilled labor, you will likely get approved for benefits.
What Other Qualifications Do I Need to Meet to Qualify for Disability Benefits?
While proving to the SSA you suffer from a qualifying impairment and cannot work is often the most difficult part of getting the disability benefits you deserve, there are also other qualifications you need to meet based on the individual program you are applying for.
SSDI is a monthly benefit designed to bridge the gap between when you suffer a disability and when you reach retirement age. This program requires you earn work credits to qualify. The number of work credits you need varies based on your and how long you have worked. This means you are unlikely to meet the qualifications if you have not worked in several years or took a significant amount of time away from work as an adult. SSDI also requires proof that your earned income is below the substantial gainful activity limit, even though this is not an income-based program. You can earn unlimited income from investments and other sources outside of a job you work and still qualify for SSDI.
Unlike SSDI, SSI is a needs-based program. It pays out monthly for those who meet its very strict income and asset limits. In 2017, you need to:
- Earn a monthly income below $735 per person or $1,103 per couple; and
- Have less than $2,000 in qualifying assets—or less than $3,000 for a couple.
We can help you evaluate your current situation and determine which of these programs you might qualify for. We will assist you in completing your application and look for any reasons you might receive a technical denial before you file your claim.
What If I Already Applied and the SSA Denied My Disability Claim?
If you desperately need disability income, you may feel panicked when you receive a letter denying your benefits. However, it is important to know that this is a common outcome after an initial application and does not mean we cannot secure the benefits you need during the appeals process.
The first thing you need to do after receiving a denial is to give us a call. We can navigate the appeals process for you, but we need to act quickly. Usually, we can get a denial overturned during an administrative law hearing. During this hearing, an administrative law judge evaluates your claim and the evidence we present to support it.
If the administrative law judge approves your benefits, you will begin receiving monthly payments. You may also receive back pay dating back to the time of your original application. If they do not approve your claim at this step in the appeals process, we will continue to fight for the benefits you rightfully deserve.
How Can I Talk With a Knowledgeable Disability Lawyer in Sayville, Long Island?
At Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., we know what it takes to get disability benefits in New York State. We can help you complete your application, double-check your claim for mistakes, answer any questions you may have, or help you fight a claims denial. Call our Sayville office today at 631-600-0000 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation or claim review.