While it is understandably difficult to live with a disabling injury or condition that may qualify you for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits, applying for SSD can be a challenge in and of itself.
As when you apply for any government documents or services (e.g. a driver’s license), you have to wade through some dense bureaucratic weeds before you reach your goal. In some ways, it may seem that the Social Security Administration (SSA) is trying to discourage people from even applying by the way the process is set-up, questions are phrased, and the long timeframe for rendering decisions. As a matter of fact, only 36 percent of SSD claims are approved on the first try. Many people give-up before appealing, and instead believe that filing a new application is the best route when this is typically not advisable.
Although the process of obtaining SSD can be challenging, it is much more manageable with a capable disability attorney at your side. If you are located in Detroit or its surrounding suburbs, you should do your research on which law firm is best for you. Disability Law Group, located in Troy, is made-up of a team of excellent attorneys whose credentials, ratings and track record attest to the quality of work we do and whose testimonials confirm our compassion.
In spite of the fact that SSD benefits are not, in most cases, going to provide you with full support, they are likely to be a foundation on which to build (or rebuild) your life and to give you some measure of financial independence and security. Our attorneys and support staff understand what is at stake for our clients going through the process. No one should have to go through their claim alone. We specialize in disability and help our clients from the very start at the initial application stage through appeals if needed, staying by their side at every step.
Financial Requirements for SSD
Although SSD is not a means-tested program (i.e. one in which to participate you must have little or no acquired assets or resources), in order to qualify for SSD in 2019 you must be earning $1220 gross income or less per month ($2040 if blind). If you are earning over this amount, the SSA considers you to be engaged in “substantial gainful activity” (SGA) and therefore ineligible for disability benefits. In that case, they will issue a technical denial before even considering your medical conditions and reviewing your evidence.
The way the SSA evaluates your eligibility is by adding up your “work credits,” that is taxes that were taken out of your salary when you were working. In other words, in addition to proving you have a disability that qualifies you for SSD, you must also demonstrate to the government that you worked for a sufficient period of time to have paid in the required number of work credits. The government requires that the applicant has not only worked long enough, paying in to the system, but also recently enough; in other words, the longer you wait to file your claim, the more difficult, or even impossible, it could be to qualify for SSD. However, if you have worked long enough and recently enough from when you are alleging you became disabled, then you should be entitled to receive SSD benefits under your own work record.
An Exception to the Usual Rules
In certain cases, a disabled person who has never been gainfully employed is able to receive SSD benefits. This occurs for ‘Disabled Adult Child’ claims in which Social Security will consider an adult, or child, to be eligible to collect disability benefits from their qualifying parent record so long as they are deemed disabled before the age of 22 and his or her parent has earned enough work credits to qualify for SSD. At the time the parent begins receiving Social Security retirement or disability benefits, or at the time a qualifying parent dies, the child (or adult child) is entitled to receive SSD benefits on the parents’ work credits.
Medical Requirements for Disability
The government has set strict guidelines for disability which is why meeting eligibility requirements for SSD may be more complicated than you would expect. This is precisely why it is invaluable to have a highly qualified Disability Law Group attorney handling your case. Without legal assistance, the process of obtaining benefits can be daunting, especially for someone who is already dealing with the challenges and restrictions of a disability. Our attorneys are dedicated to ensuring each case is handled with the respect, dignity, and attention that they deserve. By getting to know our clients, we can make sure to create the best legal strategy and approach to each case, placing them in the best position to receive disability benefits.
The underlying principle used to determine whether you qualify for SSD is that the disability you are suffering from must be one that is expected to last at least one year or to result in death. This means that, in almost all cases, a broken leg, a bout of pneumonia, or even major surgery will not automatically make you eligible for SSD. The program is not designed to assist in cases of temporary injuries or illnesses, as painful or financially stressing as they may be; SSD is intended to help those who are permanently disabled or whose conditions are expected to preclude work for at least one year.
While you need not be bedridden or confined to a wheelchair, and while both physical and/or psychiatric conditions may qualify you for SSD, your condition(s) must prevent you from being able to work – not only the work you are accustomed to, but also other work, depending on your age, education, and skill set. Our attorneys will make sure that the appropriate Medical-Vocational Rules are applied in your case, increasing your chances of approval.
The Blue Book
Like so many other governmental agencies, the SSA has formulated its stipulations into a pamphlet, in this case known as “The Blue Book.” This booklet comprises a fairly complete listing of disabilities that will qualify you for SSD, including:
- Blindness or deafness (or severe visual or hearing impairment)
- Disabling psychiatric disorders (e.g. bipolar disease, schizophrenia, PTSD)
- Intellectual impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Certain cancers such as pancreatic, liver, lung, brain, esophageal
- Neuromuscular disorders, such as multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease
- Lupus and other autoimmune disorders
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and other serious lung conditions
- Congestive heart failure
While the Blue Book lists a great many other disorders and is intended to be inclusive, it is possible that although you may not meet all the criteria specified there you may still be eligible for SSD. The SSA recognizes that your medical disability may be medically equivalent to one of their listings, both in severity of symptoms and in expected duration. Experienced attorneys will closely review your medical evidence in order to make the best argument in your case, including whether your impairments meet or medically equal one of the designated Listings. If you are fighting to have your condition(s) classified as SSD-eligible, our disability attorneys have several unique tactics we can use to protect your interests and help you win the benefits you deserve. Not only are our attorneys exceptionally skilled, we have a history of success in this particular area of the law.
Don’t Go It Alone — Contact the SSD Lawyers at Disability Law Group
If you are seeking SSD for yourself or a loved one in the state of Michigan, we recommend that you contact Disability Law Group as early in the process as possible. Your initial consultation with us will be free and once we meet with you, you will be confident about the many advantages of having our dedicated attorneys on your side.
We will always treat you with empathy and respect and will make your best interests our first priority. As anyone who has attempted to fight for their SSD benefits will tell you, going through the process alone is a nightmare. Having a legal representative savvy about what has to be done is invaluable and can make all the difference in your case. Give us a call or contact us through our website. We are eager to get you the SSD benefits you deserve. Our consultations are always free and you will speak with one of our experienced attorneys when you call.