If you or a loved one are unable to work because of a physical or mental condition, you may qualify for Social Security disability. Proving eligibility isn’t easy, however. In fact, nearly two-thirds of initial applications for disability are turned down by the Social Security Administration (SSA). Instead of being discouraged by the statistics, know that you can count on experienced disability lawyers to be there for you and help you win the benefits that you deserve. At Disability Law Group, we represent clients in Wayne County by helping them apply for disability and by appealing adverse decisions by the SSA. We’re here to answer any questions you have and can get started on your claim today.
How Does Social Security Define “Disabled”?
Even if you are unable to work, and your doctors are on your side, whether you meet the SSA’s strict standards is another question. Unfortunately, temporary disability likely won’t qualify someone for Social Security Disability benefits. To be eligible, an applicant must show that he or she is unable to hold down steady, gainful employment because of a disability.
More particularly, the SSA needs to know whether your disability has lasted or is expected to last for at least a year, or will result in death. You also need to show that because of your disability, you cannot work your old job or adjust to other work that exists in the national economy. To be sure, this burden is tough, but with an experienced Wayne County social security disability attorney by your side from the start, you will have a stronger chance of winning your disability case.
SSDI And SSI
There are two main disability programs available through Social Security: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Both of these provide essential financial support to disabled individuals, with the main distinction being how they are funded and the technical criteria to qualify. However, the medical criteria for proving disability under both programs is the same.
Payroll taxes from FICA paycheck deductions pay for an individual’s SSDI benefit much like how Social Security Retirement benefits are funded. The more an individual works over the course of his or her life, the more work credits are earned. The amount that SSDI pays will therefore depend on an individual’s work history and work credits earned. Before you can be found eligible for SSDI, however, you must work for at least five of the ten years preceding your disability. In other words, you must have earned sufficient work credits to qualify for SSDI. Medicare insurance is also available for those who qualify for SSDI, but does have a 2-year waiting period, absent narrow exceptions, to qualify.
Meanwhile, SSI benefits are funded by general tax revenue through the government. Recipients eligible for SSI usually also qualify for public assistance programs like food stamps and Medicaid available through the state of Michigan. However, to qualify for SSI, an applicant must meet these requirements:
- Be legally disabled or be over the age of 65
- Be a U.S. citizen or be a lawful permanent resident
- Have sufficiently low income
- Have insufficient assets
Steps To Apply For Social Security Disability In Wayne County
An experienced disability lawyer can explain whether you are eligible for SSDI or SSI (or, as is the case for some applicants, both). Regardless of which program you apply for, you should start with organizing the documents you may need to demonstrate that you qualify, such as:
- 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
You may need additional documents related to your work and medical history, so be sure to consult with a disability attorney to understand what documents may be needed, or useful, to help prove your case. Below are the steps that applicants take to apply for disability:
Step 1: The SSA will look over your work history and decide whether you’ve engaged in what is called Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) since you are alleging you became disabled. Essentially, SGA means you’ve worked and earned over a certain amount of money. If you earned too much, you might not qualify for disability
Step 2: The SSA has to determine how severe your disability is, based on your medical records. There must be evidence that your condition interferes with your ability to carry out your work-related duties. Keep in mind that “disabled” means your condition will last at least a year or result in your death.
Step 3: You may be asked to meet with a claims examiner at the Disability Determination Services (DDS) if the SSA cannot make a decision whether you meet the necessary criteria for being disabled either at this Step or those outlined below. DDS is a state agency that works with the SSA to evaluate applicants’ disability claims.
The SSA has a list of bodily impairments that it uses to consider applicants’ medical conditions at this Step. If you meet or medically equal the criteria in one, or more, of the listings, your application may be approved at this step. However, the Listings are notoriously difficult to meet with strict criteria that continue to evolve with time. A disability lawyer can carefully review your medical records and identify whether your condition(s) meet or medically equal a listing, and even work with your doctors to help establish the same.
Step 4: If you didn’t get approved at Step 3, the SSA will review your ability to perform the work-related tasks you did before your disability. The SSA specifically wants to know if your disability prevents you from doing the work you were able to do during the last fifteen years, taking your age, education, and job skills into account. If it is found that you are not able to return to your past work, then the analysis proceeds to the last step in the process.
Step 5: Finally, the SSA must consider if you can do other types of work in light of your disability. Even if you can’t work your old job, you may be able to work a similar one or other jobs that exist in the national economy. In making this decision, the SSA will look at your age, education, experience, and even whether your job skills may transfer to a new occupation.
Contact Our Wayne County Social Security Disability Attorney
Winning disability is no simple task, which is why disabled residents of Wayne County trust Disability Law Group. Not only do we help people apply for SSDI and SSI, we appeal claims that were rejected by the SSA. Let us put our experience to work for you today. Our legal consultations are always free and disability is all we do. Whether you are thinking about applying, or need to file an appeal, we are here to help.