Disability Law Group serves individuals and families in Oakland County where our office is located, and throughout the state, who need help obtaining Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. Working with the Social Security Administration (SSA) can be challenging, and in fact, most initial applicants will have their requests rejected. When it comes to disability benefits, you can’t afford to take on the system alone. You need a dedicated advocate by your side.
That’s where we come in. Disability Law Group is proud to stand up for Oakland County residents by helping them apply for benefits and appealing SSA claim denials. We will help you from the very start, or wherever your claim is throughout the process to help you win every benefit you are entitled to. Let us discuss your legal options today.
“Disability” As Defined By Social Security
The word “disability” has a precise technical and legal meaning under the SSA’s guidelines. As an example, temporary disability typically does not qualify someone for SSD benefits. Instead, the applicant has to be able to demonstrate that he or she is incapable of holding steady, gainful employment due to a disabling condition that meets the durational criteria.
Specifically, SSA has to see proof that your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least a year, or that it will result in death. In addition, you should be able to show that you cannot work your old job or adjust to a new one because of your disability.
Two Disability Programs: SSDI And SSI
Social Security Disability is divided into two main programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Social Security Insurance (SSI). These programs provide critical financial support to disabled individuals in different ways.
SSDI is financed by FICA deductions from workers’ paychecks. The longer an individual works over the course of his or her life, the more work credits he or she earns. The amount of SSDI benefits, therefore, depends on the individual’s work history and the number of work credits. An applicant must work for at least five of the ten years preceding the disability before he or she will be eligible for SSDI. In addition, you can receive Medicare benefits – regardless of your age – after you have been entitled to SSDI for two years. However, notably, there are some narrow exceptions to the rule that an experienced disability attorney can help with.
SSI, on the other hand, is paid for by general tax revenue. Individuals who receive SSI will usually qualify for other public assistance benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps. To be eligible for SSI, an applicant must meet the following:
- Be legally disabled or over the age of 65
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have insufficient income and assets
How To Apply For Social Security Disability
Whether you are eligible for SSDI or SSI (or both), it’s important to have a knowledgeable disability law attorney in your corner. One of the first things you need to do is start organizing the documents you may need to show that you are eligible. 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, including medication list
Talk to your attorney about any additional documents you may need concerning your work and medical history. Next, when you’re ready to apply, here is the 5-step process followed in each and every disability claim through SSA:
Step 1: The SSA will review your previous year’s work history to determine if you’ve engaged in substantial gainful activity since the date that you alleged you became disabled in your application. This term means you’ve worked and earned over a certain amount which commonly varies under the law from year to year. Applicants who have earned too much money may not qualify for disability.
Step 2: The SSA will review your medical records to determine the severity of your disability. Remember, “disabled” means your condition will either last at least a year or result in death. Your records must contain evidence that supports your inability to work due to your conditions, and an experienced disability lawyer can help with any additional evidence needed to help support your case.
Step 3: SSA maintains a list of bodily impairments that guides them in deciding whether the claimant’s condition(s) is so severe they should be found disabled at this step based primarily on the medical evidence. Your application may be approved at this point if you meet the criteria in those listings or your condition is determined to be equal in severity. A Michigan disability attorney can help you understand whether a listing applies in your case and how to prove it.
Step 4: Applicants who aren’t approved at Step 3 will move to Step 4. The SSA will review whether you can perform the same work-related tasks you could before your disabling condition. Specifically, the SSA wants to know whether your disability keeps you from doing the same work you did during the last fifteen years. The SSA will take your age, education, and job skills into account.
Step 5. Lastly, the SSA must determine whether you can do other types of work despite your disability. Once again, the agency will consider factors like your age, education, experience, and whether your skills are transferable to a new job. You may not be able to work your old occupation but you may be able to work a similar one.
Contact Our Oakland County Social Security Disability Attorney
The experienced and dedicated attorneys of Disability Law Group understand the application process and are ready to get to work for you. Our team can help you apply for SSDI, SSI, or even appeal claims that were denied by the SSA. Reach out to us today for your free consultation to get started.