Applying for Social Security Disability benefits, or SSD, in Macomb county is a process that can be fraught with roadblocks and setbacks. The fact is, dealing with the Social Security Administration (SSA) is always a challenge, no matter how cut and dry your disability case may be. However, if you need help applying for SSD benefits in Macomb county, the last thing you can afford to do is wait.
Having an experienced Macomb county social security disability attorney can help you avoid the problems when applying for SSD benefits that cause most initial applications to be rejected. An attorney can also assist if your claim was denied and you need to appeal. At Disability Law Group, we take the guesswork out of applying for disability and work to win our clients the benefits they deserve.
First Step: Do You Meet The Definition Of “Disabled”?
Before applying for social security disability, it’s a good idea to have an understanding of what the SSA considers to be a disability. The SSA uses a rather precise and technical definition that doesn’t always fit with what the everyday citizen considers to be “disabled.” As an example, a temporary disability, for instance, due to an accident, doesn’t count as “disabled” for purposes of social security disability.
In order to be considered disabled, an individual must show that he or she cannot hold steady employment because of a disabling condition. The disability must have either lasted, or be projected to last, at least a year. A condition may also be considered a disability if it’s expected to cause death. Finally, an applicant should be able to show that he or she cannot work either a previous job or a new one because of a disability. However, there are some exceptions to this rule that would allow for a more lenient finding of disability based on age and other factors.
Ask an attorney who specializes in disability benefits for more information on whether you meet the government’s standards for “disabled.”
Second Step: Which Program Do You Quality For?
Social security disability is actually divided into two different programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You may be eligible for one or the other, or possibly for both.
SSDI is funded by FICA deductions taken from workers’ paychecks. The more an individual works, the more work credits he or she earns. More work credits mean more SSDI. However, before one can claim SSDI, that individual must work for at least five of the ten years preceding the onset of the disability. An individual can apply for Medicare, regardless of age, once he or she receives SSDI for two years.
SSI, the other disability program, is funded by general tax revenue. Recipients of SSI typically qualify for other types of public assistance like Medicaid and food stamps. To be eligible for SSI, an applicant must:
- Be legally disabled or over the age of 65
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have insufficient income and assets
Third Step: Apply For SSDI Or SSI
Once you determine which program you are eligible for, it’s time to submit your application. It is imperative, however, that you have a knowledgeable disability lawyer representing you. Most first-time applicants will have their claims rejected due to errors such as insufficient documentation.
Applying for disability, therefore, begins with gathering the documents you will need to demonstrate your eligibility. Those include:
- 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
You may need other documents regarding your medical history or work history, so consult your lawyer before you apply. Once you’ve applied, here’s what to expect:
Step 1: The SSA will decide whether you have engaged in substantial gainful activity, or SGA, during the last year. SGA is a term that means you’ve worked and earned over a certain dollar amount. If you’ve earned too much you may not qualify for SSD.
Step 2: The SSA will review your medical records to determine the severity of your disability and ensure you meet its definition of “disabled.” Your medical records must contain clear evidence that your condition interferes with your ability to work.
Step 3: Next, you may be asked to meet with an examiner from the Disability Determination Services (DDS). This state agency works with the SSA to evaluate applications for disability benefits. This step may be needed if the SSA cannot determine whether you meet its standard for disabled.
The SSA maintains a list of impairments that it uses to review the medical records of SSD applicants. If you meet the criteria set forth in those listings, or your disability is considered equal in severity, you may be approved for SSD at this stage.
Step 4: If the SSA has not yet approved your application, it will decide whether you can perform the same work-related tasks you were able to do prior to your disability. More specifically, the SSA needs to know whether you can still do the same work you did during the last fifteen years in spite of your condition. Your age, education, and job skills will be taken into consideration.
Step 5: You may be able to perform other types of work despite your disability. Put another way: even if you can’t work your old job, your skills may transfer to a new one. If they do not, you may win disability benefits at this stage.
Having a Macomb County Social Security Disability Attorney Makes All The Difference
Applying for disability benefits requires time, patience, and an understanding of how SSD works. That’s where our law firm comes in. Before you apply, speak with a Maccomb county social security disability attorney from Disability Law Group. We can also help if your claim was rejected and you need to appeal. Schedule your free, confidential consultation with us today.