People who are unable to work due to physical and/or mental disability may qualify for Social Security Disability benefits. Not everyone is eligible for disability, and many people have a difficult time winning the benefits they need. That’s why you can’t afford to go without an experienced disability attorney. At Disability Law Group, we help individuals in Macomb County apply for Social Security Disability and file appeals if their initial claims are rejected. We’re ready to get started on your case and help you win the benefits you deserve as quickly as possible.
What Does It Mean To Be Disabled?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a strict definition of what it considers to be “disabled.” Temporarily being unable to work or having a short-term disability, lasting less than one year or not expected to result in death, does not qualify. Instead, SSA looks at whether you are not able to engage in gainful employment due to your condition(s).
At the very first step of the evaluation, Social Security wants to know whether your disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year or if your disability will likely result in death. You must demonstrate that, because of your condition, you cannot do the work you once could and that you cannot adjust to other work – even jobs you may have never done before. However, for people under the age of 50, relaxed criteria may apply if you are at least unable to perform the work you have done in the last 15 years. If you believe that you may meet this criteria, it’s time to talk to a Macomb County social security disability lawyer.
Social Security Disability: Two Programs That Can Help
There are two types of disability benefits that individuals most commonly qualify for under the umbrella of Social Security. One is called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and the other is Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The primary difference between the two is how the programs are funded or the technical criteria one must satisfy in order to qualify. The medical criteria, however, is the same for both programs.
SSDI is paid for with payroll taxes, as part of the FICA deductions that are taken out of workers’ paychecks. SSDI is therefore based on your work history, and you must have worked a sufficient amount of time before you can claim benefits. Over the course of your working life, you earn what is called work credits. To apply for SSDI, you need to have worked for at least five of the past ten years prior to your disability. The actual amount of benefits that you will receive depends on how much you have worked and earned over the more recent and relevant time period.
Insurance also accompanies both SSDI and SSI, but the program you are eligible for will depend on whether you qualify for either or both programs. After a two-year wait from when you are first entitled to receive SSDI, you can qualify for Medicare regardless of age, assuming you meet the technical criteria to be eligible.
On the other hand, SSI is paid for by general taxes instead of payroll taxes. Thus, individuals who qualify are usually eligible for public assistance programs through the state of Michigan, such as Medicaid and food stamps. To be eligible for SSI, however, an applicant must meet the following criteria:
- Be found disabled or over the age of 65
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have sufficiently low income
- Have insufficient assets
How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability Benefits In Macomb County?
Before you apply for SSDI or SSI, it’s a good idea to begin gathering certain records that will be used to prove your eligibility. Here’s a checklist to start with:
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship if not born in the U.S.
- W-2 forms
- Tax returns
- Medical records related to your disability, including medication list
An experienced disability attorney can help you obtain any evidence needed to help prove your case. The process can be complicated and time-consuming, but hiring an attorney who specializes in disability benefits can alleviate the stress and worry from your shoulders starting with the application process and through any appeals if needed. Once your paperwork is organized, you’ll take the following steps to apply to the SSA:
Step 1: The SSA will review your work history over the past year to determine whether you’ve engaged in substantial gainful activity. If you have – meaning you’ve earned over a certain amount of income – you won’t qualify, even if your disability has made it more difficult for you to work.
Step 2: The SSA will determine how severe your disability is. Your medical evidence must show that your disability interferes with work-related activities. An opinion from a doctor that you are disabled may help, but might not be enough. An attorney can draft specific forms for your doctor to review and complete based on your conditions and limitations to support your case.
Step 3: The SSA maintains a list of severe impairments affecting different parts of the body called the ‘Listings.’ If an applicant meets, or medically equals, the criteria of one of the listed impairments, SSA may approve the application. If the SSA examiner finds that a determination cannot be made as to whether you meet the disability criteria at Step 3, you may be requested to meet with a doctor through the Disability Determination Services. This is a state agency in Michigan that helps SSA determine whether applicants meet the government’s standard of disability.
Step 4: If the SSA did not approve your application at Step 3, the analysis will move forward to steps 4 and 5. Here, SSA will assess your ability to perform your previous work tasks. In other words, SSA wants to know whether your disability prevents you from doing the work you’ve done for the past 15 years. The SSA will specifically consider your age, education, and job skills.
Step 5: Even if you cannot work your old job because of your disability, the SSA needs to determine whether you can do other types of work in light of your disability. To do so, SSA will evaluate your age, education level, past work experience, and whether your skills transfer to other occupations. While the majority of disability cases are denied at Step 5, finding the claimant capable of performing other work, a skilled disability attorney can help present your case in the best way possible for you to be approved from the start.
Contact Our Macomb County Social Security Disability Attorney
Meeting the SSA’s definition of disability isn’t easy. To make the strongest possible claim, you need strong documentation of your condition and sufficient information about your work history. Even in situations where your doctor is supportive may not be enough to win disability considering SSA’s strict criteria.
However, by hiring an attorney who understands Social Security Disability and what it takes to win a disability claim, you can be confident that you are setting yourself up for success. You can count on the dedicated and experienced team Disability Law Group. Our attorneys will take the time to listen and can help you win the benefits that you deserve. We serve disabled residents of Macomb County by helping them apply for disability and appealing adverse SSA decisions. Call us today to get started. Consultations are always free and disability is all we do.