SSD Lawyers in Raleigh, North Carolina, Helping You Get the Benefits You Deserve
Social Security disability benefits, handled through the Social Security Administration, can provide much needed income if you have a disability and are unable to work. However, Social Security disability cases can be very complex, and there is a high rate of initial denials, which can be frustrating to work through. Having an attorney who is familiar with Social Security disability law and has successfully helped clients navigate the claims and appeals process can make it easier to understand what’s happening and what’s required of you. Find out how Social Security disability benefits work and answers to common questions below.
Dealing with the life changes that come with a disability is hard enough, and having to navigate the Social Security disability benefits process adds another layer of difficulty. At the law firm of Brent Adams & Associates, we’re here to make it easier to understand what benefits you qualify for and go through the claims process. We can also help if your claim has been denied. Call our office today to speak to a Social Security disability attorney.
What Are Social Security Disability Benefits?
Social Security disability benefits are monies that the Social Security Administration pays out to qualifying people who have certain disabilities. Social Security benefits are complex, and Social Security disability is its own category. Social Security disability benefits are only paid out to those who have enough work history to qualify, and you must submit an application for approval. If the Social Security Administration finds that you have a physical or mental condition that meets the SSA disability determination requirements, you can receive a monthly stipend to help offset costs of living.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance is what qualifies someone to be able to receive Social Security disability benefits. It’s a social insurance program that covers those who have a long enough work history and who have paid Social Security taxes on that income. If you are insured and develop a disability that keeps you from being able to work, Social Security Disability Insurance is what pays out the monthly stipend you receive after your claim is approved.
How Is SSD Different From Supplemental Security Income?
While they are both handled by the Social Security Administration, Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance are two different programs. While SSDI is only for those who have a qualifying work history that makes them insured, Supplemental Security Income is based on income. In both cases, the person applying for benefits must have a qualifying disability, but with SSI, the person doesn’t have to have a qualifying work history or have paid Social Security taxes on their income.
To qualify for SSI, a person must have a qualifying disability or be age 65 or older and have limited income and resources. It’s important to note that SSI benefits are much lower on average than SSDI benefits. It is possible to receive both SSI and SSDI benefits at the same time.
Who Qualifies for SSD Benefits?
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits under the SSDI program, you must meet the SSA’s criteria for a disability — which is much stricter than others — and have a long enough work history that includes paying into Social Security.
Qualifying Work History
To be eligible to claim benefits under SSDI, you need to have built up enough credits. Credits are earned by working a job that pays into Social Security. This can include self-employment income as long as you paid the proper taxes. As of 2023, workers earn 1 credit for every $1,640 in wages they earn, and there is a cap of 4 credits earned per year. To be able to receive SSDI benefits, you generally need to have accumulated at least 40 credits total, and 20 of those credits need to have been earned in the last 10 years. There are some exceptions to this for younger people, so talk to an attorney if you have questions about whether you qualify.
The SSA is very strict on what it defines as a disability, and you are not eligible for SSDI benefits if you have a short-term or partial disability. There are three requirements that must all be met to have a qualifying disability:
1. The disability keeps you from being able to work or have substantial gainful activity.
2. You are no longer able to do the same work you did before the disability, and that is directly caused by the disability.
3. The disability has gone on for at least 1 year (or is expected to) or is expected to result in death.
The SSA keeps a list of qualifying medical conditions, and it can help to check this list before you apply. If you don’t find your disability on the list, talk with an attorney about your options.
What Are Some Reasons the Social Security Administration May Deny Benefits?
- The Social Security Administration makes the decision whether to approve or deny your claim for Social Security disability benefits. According to data from the SSA, around 67 percent of disability claims are initially denied. Here are some of the main reasons that a claim may be denied:
- Not enough medical evidence. When you submit an SSD claim, you need to provide medical records and other documents that support your disability claim, including the type and severity of the disability and the impact it has had on your ability to work.
- Not following a prescribed treatment plan. If you are not in compliance with the treatment plan prescribed by your doctor, the SSA may deny your claim based on the belief that compliance would improve your condition to the point of being able to work.
- Not meeting the duration of severity requirements. If the medical condition is not expected to last long enough or be severe enough to qualify under the SSA’s strict definition of disability, your claim could be denied.
- Providing inaccurate or incomplete information. Denials can occur if you don’t submit all of the information required by the SSA or if it believes that you submitted inaccurate information.
- Existence of a prior criminal record. While a criminal conviction doesn’t automatically disqualify you, a criminal record can be a factor in whether your claim is approved, depending on the type and recency of the conviction.
- Not providing follow-up information as requested. It’s important to comply quickly with any requests for additional information to avoid a denial.
What Should I Do If My Social Security Disability Benefits Have Been Denied?</h2?
It can be very disheartening to get back a decision that the Social Security Administration has denied your Social Security disability claim. However, it’s important to understand that you do still have options for appeals. First, it’s important to ensure that you understand why your claim for Social Security disability benefits was denied. The denial letter should have included a reason, so look for that on the paperwork you received from the Social Security office.
Once you know why your Social Security disability claim was denied, contact a Social Security disability lawyer as soon as possible. It is possible to open up a case with the Social Security Appeals Council, but you need to do so quickly. You may be able to provide additional documentation or evidence, such as medical records, to support your claim and to show that the denial was made in error.
If you want to appeal your denial, there are four possible levels of appeals to get through. The first is a basic reconsideration. In a reconsideration, a new case evaluator will look at your claim and any additional evidence and determine if the original decision should be overturned. If the reconsideration upholds the denial, you can ask for a hearing by an administrative law judge. If the judge upholds the denial at the hearing, you can ask for a review by the Social Security Appeals Council. The final level of review is by filing a civil action through the Federal courts.
How Can the Social Security Disability Lawyers at Brent Adams & Associates Help Me?
The Social Security Administration is a large organization with very specific processes and rules surrounding who is eligible for disability benefits and the appeals process. A Social Security disability attorney can be an invaluable resource as you navigate this system. An attorney can help you at the beginning of your case by making sure that you have the evidence and documentation to support your claim. When you work with a lawyer from the start of your case, you also have the benefit of having representation that is already familiar with your case if it’s denied and you need to appeal.
Social Security disability attorneys can guide you through the process of applying for benefits from start to finish and are here to take some of the burden of this difficult time. If you are trying to apply for SSD benefits in North Carolina, call the Raleigh office of Brent Adams & Associates at 919-781-7590 to schedule your consultation. We can explain what the next steps are and answer any questions you may have.