The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for approving requests for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. However, most Troy social security disability applicants have their initial requests rejected because they don’t understand what the SSA is looking for. They may attempt to appeal a rejected claim on their own but are not prepared to handle the SSA’s complex appeals rules and strict guidelines. Who can you turn to when you need a dedicated advocate in your corner?
The attorneys at Disability Law Group work with clients in Troy and throughout Michigan to help them secure the disability benefits they need. We help first-time applicants and we can appeal an adverse SSA decision in your case. Our mission is to help improve the lives of our clients through our efforts to help win the disability benefits deserved as quickly as possible.
What Is “Disability” According To The SSA?
While laypersons have one understanding of what the word “disability” means, it is defined quite differently by Social Security. For example, temporary disability does not typically make someone eligible for SSD benefits. To qualify, an applicant must show that he or she cannot hold steady, gainful employment because of a disabling condition.
Additionally, you must be able to demonstrate that your condition has lasted or is expected to last at least a year, or that it is fatal. Finally, the SSA needs proof that you are unable to work your old job and cannot adjust to a new one because of your disability.
SSDI And SSI: The Two Social Security Disability Programs
Social Security Disability includes two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Though similarly named, these programs provide different types of assistance to disabled individuals.
SSDI is paid for by FICA deductions taken from workers’ paychecks. The longer an individual’s work history, the more credits are earned. Therefore the amount of SSDI benefits is based on an individual’s work record and total work credits. Before a worker can be eligible for SSDI, he or she must work for at least five of the ten years preceding the disability. After receiving SSDI for two years, a recipient can also apply for Medicare benefits, regardless of age.
SSI is a program financed by general tax revenue brought in by the government. SSI recipients are typically eligible for other public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid through the state of Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. To qualify for SSI, a potential applicant has to meet the following criteria:
- Be legally disabled or over the age of 65
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- Have insufficient income and assets
Applying For Social Security Disability in Troy, Michigan
Regardless of whether you can apply for SSDI or SSI (or both), you will need to begin organizing certain documents to demonstrate your eligibility. Working with a skilled disability lawyer, you should collect the following items:
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status if not born in the U.S.
- W-2 forms
- Tax returns
- Medical records related to your disability, including medication list
You may need other documents concerning your work and medical history, so consult a knowledgeable disability attorney. After you’ve gathered your paperwork, you’re ready to apply. Here are the steps:
Step 1: The SSA will look at your previous year’s work history to see if you’ve had substantial gainful activity. This means you’ve worked and earned over a certain amount. If you have earned too much money, you may not be eligible for Social Security Disability.
Step 2: The SSA will then consider your medical records to determine how severe your disability is. As mentioned above, “disabled” has a specific meaning under the law. Your records must contain evidence that your condition meets that standard and precludes your ability to work.
Step 3: In some cases, the SSA cannot decide whether an applicant meets the disability requirements. He or she may be asked to meet with a claims examiner with the Disability Determination Services (DDS). This is a state agency that partners with the SSA to evaluate applications.
The SSA has a list of bodily impairments that it considers in reviewing medical records. If you meet the criteria contained in those listings, or your condition is determined to be of equal severity, you may be approved for disability benefits.
Step 4: If you are not approved at Step 4, the SSA will need to decide whether you can perform the same work tasks as you did before your disability. That means evaluating whether your disability prevents you from doing the same work you did during the previous fifteen years. In making this determination, the SSA will consider your age, education, and job skills.
Step 5: Finally, the SSA has to consider whether you may be able to do other types of work in light of your disability. The SSA will again consider factors like your age, education, and work experience. It will also look at whether your job skills can be transferred to a new line of work. If you can work a job that is similar to your old occupation, but perhaps not as physically and/or mentally demanding, or even other unskilled work, you might not qualify for disability.
Contact Our Troy Social Security Disability Attorney
The application and appeals process for disability can be tricky. Based on what you submit, Social Security may inaccurately believe you can still work or that your work experience is transferable to a new job. SSA may not have the full picture of your condition and could end up rejecting your application or denying your appeal. Disability Law Group is here to take the stress out of the disability process for you – whether you need to start by filing or appeal an adverse disability decision – we can help. We’re prepared to fight alongside you for the disability benefits you deserve. Give our team a call today to find out more and to schedule your free consultation.