Becoming disabled at any age is a traumatic event, requiring a great deal of patience and adjustment. Trying to apply for government benefits while disabled can become a bureaucratic nightmare. Even if you have been generally informed about what steps you should take, the complexity of the process may be intimidating. From the initial application to the appeal process, navigating the ever-changing Social Security laws and regulations can be daunting and overwhelming. Having someone on your side who specializes in disability laws and practices can make all the difference for a disability case. Disability Law Group, an esteemed disability law firm, is eager to help. We pride ourselves on being as knowledgeable as we are compassionate. We are always accessible when you come to us in need, and your original consultation is completely free.
A Short History of Disability Insurance in the United States
In 1935, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the Social Security Administration was established. It was conceived as social insurance in which all workers contributed to a system that would provide older workers with a cushion for retirement when they were no longer able to work.
By 1956, there was an amendment to the Social Security Act; this one established the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI or SSD) program which at first provided income only for disabled workers between 50 and 65 years of age as early retirement. Later, the program expanded to include younger disabled individuals. In 1974, under President Nixon, a program known as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) came into being. SSI was designed to help people who have low income with few assets and who are disabled and unable to work. SSI, unlike SSD, is not predicated on the recipient having a work history. Instead of being funded by workers’ paycheck deductions, SSI is financed by general funds of the U.S. Treasury. In some cases, you may be eligible to receive both categories of benefits.
How Disability Law Group Can Help
Getting SSD or SSI can be life-changing. If you are trying to get disability benefits and don’t know how to go about it, or if you have been denied the benefits you are entitled to, the skilled disability attorneys at Disability Law Group can help. Our attorneys assist with filing the initial application through appeals, if needed, before an Administrative Law Judge and beyond. From your very first call, and throughout the entire process, you can expect the exceptional service and compassionate treatment you deserve. We want to learn about your story so we can determine how best to help. By carefully crafting unique legal strategies and fully developing the appropriate evidence, Social Security can better understand whether your medical conditions merit an award of disability under their strict rules. If you live in Michigan, Disability Law Group is here for you to help win the disability benefits you are owed.
The Five Basic Steps or Applying for SSD or SSI
There are five basic steps involved in the process. As you go through them, you must have detailed paperwork to support your claims, such as medical records from healthcare professionals who have treated you, psychiatric reports, evaluations, all relevant hospital and clinic records, and a list of the medications you are prescribed. Whether you are applying for SSD and/or SSI, you will be applying through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Step 1 – The first step the SSA takes is to establish if you are working, and, if you are, how much your gross earnings have averaged per month since you have alleged you became disabled. If you have earned over a certain amount, Social Security will deem you to be engaged in Substantial Gainful Activity and, therefore, not disabled. However, there are exceptions to the rule which involve knowledge of COLA changes in addition to SSA’s laws and guidelines. An experienced attorney who specializes in disability benefits can help you understand whether your work would still allow for a finding of “disability” under SSA’s strict rules.
Step 2 – The second step taken by the SSA is to evaluate how serious your disability is. Having one of our knowledgeable disability attorneys on your side will make this step go much more smoothly. We will ensure that you have the necessary documentation to prove that your disability will cause significant work-related limitations for at least one year or is expected to result in your death. Missing evidence or a lack of supportive statements from your doctors may result in denial at this step. Our attorneys work diligently to ensure every clients’ file is fully developed and that all supporting evidence is requested and submitted, taking the burden off your shoulders.
Step 3 – If, having examined your medical records, the SSA is still uncertain about your state of disability, your application will be sent on to the Disability Determination Services (DDS), a state-level agency under the Michigan Department of Health Services. A claims examiner at DDS will decide whether or not you meet their standards for disability. DDS will be comparing your diagnosed disability with a sizable list they have compiled of serious ailments that interfere with one’s ability to work. These disorders range from immune disorders to problems affecting mobility, cognition, breathing, vision, hearing, and social functioning. If your condition does not meet or medically equal the severity of one of the listed impairments, SSA will continue on the process to determine if you should still be found disabled. SSA’s rules and regulations here are ever-changing which is why an experienced attorney skilled in SSA’s laws and practices can give you the advantage you need.
Step 4 – This step involves assessing whether or not your impairment(s) would interfere with your ability to perform the duties of your most recent occupation (during the past 15 years of your working career). If it is determined that you can return to one of your past jobs despite limitations they believe you have from your condition(s), the process ends as you would be found “not disabled.” However, if you are found to be unable to perform your past relevant jobs, the evaluation process continues on to the final step. This part of the analysis becomes especially critical when evaluating the work history of someone aged 50 or older. Our experienced disability attorneys can help you understand the way these rules can affect your case. We will learn about how you actually performed the job and research how your jobs are commonly classified under the Dictionary of Occupational Titles – the two important pieces of the Step 4 puzzle SSA relies on at this step.
Step 5 -The last step to be taken in the disability evaluation process is for Social Security to figure out whether, even if you cannot perform work you are accustomed to, there are other jobs in significant numbers that you can perform despite your limitations. During this assessment, your age, highest level of education, past work history and transferable skills will be explored. If suitable employment is found for you in another field, your disability claim will be denied.
Why You Need an Experienced Disability Attorney to See You Through the Process
Whenever you are dealing with a government procedure that involves legal ramifications, it is not only wise but may be necessary to have a qualified disability attorney on your team.
Our skilled and compassionate disability attorneys at Disability Law Group will be able to lead you through the disability process using the well-practiced tactics most likely to bring your application to a successful conclusion. We can help you from the initial application submission to ensure your claim is complete and diligently being worked on. If your claim is originally denied, we will stand by you through the appeals process, always fighting for your rights and making your needs our first priority. Every client matters to us, and we take that position very seriously. You can reach us by phone during our office hours or contact us any time by filling out a form on our website.