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Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a financial assistance program overseen by the Social Security Administration (SSA) with the help of state agencies. SSDI provides disability benefits to workers who have paid into Social Security and are unable to work due to physical or mental disability. Are you facing a serious disability that prevents you from obtaining or maintaining employment? Has your disability or medical condition lasted for longer than 12 months and expected to continue? If so, you may qualify for disability benefits and eligible to file a claim!
If you are wondering if you qualify for disability benefits, call our disability benefits firm today to request case evaluation. We will advocate for you!
Since our beginning, Jackson Law Firm, PLLC has been an advocate for individuals who have had their ability to work interrupted by a physical or mental impairment and has garnered their deserved benefits. Our supportive Chattanooga Social Security Disability lawyer has helped thousands of clients receive their entitled financial relief and can advocate for your disability benefits.
Learn How To Pass Your Disability Determination Services (DDS) Review. Call Us Today For More Information
Each year, more than 2.5 million individuals unable to work due to their medical condition or impairments file a claim for disability benefits. To assist with the daunting process of reviewing all these disabilities claims, the Social Security Administration has enlisted agencies in each state to initially examine the claims. Even if you have a medical condition or impairment that limits your ability to work or leaves you unable to work, your disability benefits application can be denied if your condition does not meet the legal and medical criteria for disability benefits as required by the Social Security Administration.
Even if you believe that your condition constitutes a disability you can still be turned down if it doesn't meet federal standards.
In some cases, an applicant may actually be eligible for disability benefits but is denied because the application does not contain information that accurately specifies how the impairment or medical condition limits their ability to work. Additionally, how well an applicant's medical conditions or impairments are correctly presented could determine whether or not a person is considered disabled for the purpose of receiving disability benefits. Even if the applicant has a medical condition or impairment that is considered a disability according to the Social Security Administration's standards, the applicant may not eligible due to a lack of work history and work credits.
The Determination For SSDI Is Based on Your Medical Condition and Your Work History
Disability benefits claims are handled by the state Disability Determination Services (DDS). When a DDS examiner reviews your application, they will utilize a five-step process to analyze your disability benefits claim. Your medical condition alone may not be enough to qualify for disability benefits. If at any point your disability benefits application fails to meet one of the legal requirements, your application may be denied. The requirements are, in order:
- You must be engaged in substantial gainful activity before your disability occurred. Most forms of employment and even certain types of volunteer work will meet this requirement.
- Your impairments must be severe. They may be physical or mental impairments, but they must amount to a complete, not partial, disability.
- Your disability must be included on the federal Listing of Impairments. If your disability is not on the official list, the DDS examiner must deem it to be equivalent to one that is included.
- You must be unable to do any type of work you have done in the past. Your work history, experience, and any training you might have had will be taken into account.
- You must be unable to do any other type of job. If you are over 50, the SSA has different requirements and may not apply this to your disability claims application depending on circumstances.
How Are Payments Determined?
Medical eligibility for monthly payments is determined according to the “Disability Evaluation Under Social Security” which is also known as the Blue Book.
The Blue Book lists the medical conditions and impairments that qualify an individual for payments.
Among the medical conditions and impairments that are included in the Blue Book are: heart disease; cancer; vision and hearing loss; immune system conditions such as HIV/AIDS, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis; liver and kidney diseases; and neurological conditions including Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson's Disease. Mental health conditions such as anxiety disorders and depression are also included in the Blue Book as well as conditions related to the autism spectrum.
Applicants with medical conditions that are not listed in the Blue Book may still be able to qualify for disability benefits if the impairments are severe enough to cause them to be unable to work full time. Some of the conditions not listed in Social Security Administration's official listing that could qualify for benefits include but are not limited to, celiac disease, carpal tunnel syndrome, degenerative disc disease, and fibromyalgia. Whether a medical condition or impairment is listed in the administrative standards or not, medical documentation from a doctor treating the patient would be necessary for proving and supporting an applicant's case for their disability benefits claim.
Can Anyone With A Disability Qualify?
Factors such as an applicant's age can influence the Social Security Administration's decision on whether to award benefits. Older applicants may have an easier time qualifying for disability benefits but this can vary because they are more likely to have a longer work history. Applicants under 50 years of age tend to have a more difficult time receiving benefits. To a lesser degree applicants 50-54 years of age may also find it more difficult to be approved for disability benefits. In these cases when an applicant does not directly meet SSA standards, a set of tables, sometimes known as "grids", are applied to determine whether such individuals can be considered disabled and eligible for SSDI benefits. These tables are usually not favorable to these applicants. The assistance of a knowledgeable disability benefits lawyer can be essential to having an application accepted for monthly payments under the Administration's standards.
Are Monthly Payments Based on An Applicant's Need or Condition?
Calculations for individuals who are considered to meet the SSDI requirements are based on the amount that they have paid into Social Security throughout their work history, and not according to the severity of their medical condition or disability. The amounts paid into the federal Social Security fund are known as work credits. Work credits are factored in with the applicant's age in making a determination on the monthly payment that can be received.
Do Women Receive the Same Benefits As Men?
SSDI was created in 1956 when the Social Security Administration added disability benefits to the Social Security system. At that time, many more men were in the workforce and were considerably more likely to receive disability benefits than were women. Over time, with women entering the workforce in greater numbers the number of women receiving SSDI payments has increased and is nearly even to that of men. Still, since SSDI benefits are calculated according to how much has been paid into Social Security over the course of a worker's life, men tend to receive a higher average benefit given that working women have proportionately spent less time in the workforce earning fewer work credits throughout their adult lives. Other factors such as income disparity can also contribute to the gap in disability benefits received by men and women.
What Happens If My Claim Is Denied?
The Majority of SSDI Applications Are Initially Denied
You have the legal right to appeal the denial of your disability benefits claim. And if your first appeal is denied by the SSA, there are 3 more levels of appeal where you can challenge the denial of the disability beneftits that you need and worked for. The steps of the review process are, the Reconsideration Review, a hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the Appeals Council Review, and the Federal Court Review at the U.S. District Court. We will be with you every step of the way in the appeals process even if it is necessary to go to Federal Court to advocate for your disability benefits. Meeting the eligibility requirements for disability benefits may seem like a challenging task. Each year, more than 75% of initial disability claims applications are denied. Most of these disability benefits claims were rejected based on simple error or inadequate information.
I do have the medical documentation for my disability, is that sufficient for submitting an application?
At Jackson Law Firm, PLLC, we have devoted our practice nearly exclusively to individuals to garner the disability benefits they deserve. Our Chattanooga disability benefits lawyer understands disability law and possesses a keen awareness into what is needed to compile a successful disability benefits application, including what "red flags" a DDS examiner is looking for to deny your disability benefits claim. If you don't qualify for SSDI,SSI may be available.
Supplemental Security Income
If you don't qualify for SSDI because you don't have the work history you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI is an assistance program offered by the SSA for people who have a condition or impairment that leaves them unable to work but to not have the work credits to quailify for SSDI. SSI is different from SSDI also because it is means tested, based on need, taking your income and assets into account. If you are not sure whether you would qualify for SSDI or SSI, feel free to contact our attorney for a free evaluation.
When Filing an Initial Application or an Appeal, Don't Go It Alone
Contact Jackson Law Firm, PLLC Today For More Information!
Having experienced legal counsel assist you complete and file your disability benefits claim greatly improve your odds of a having your benefits claim approved. If you are considering beginning the application process or need a lawyer to appeal a disability benefits claim denial, Jackson Law Firm, PLLC can help! Our dedicated Chattanooga SSDI lawyer will advocate for you and provide the skilled and supportive legal counsel you need and deserve throughout every stage of the SSDI claims process. Contact our attorneys to get started.