Social Security Disability Lawyer
If you have been denied Social Security disability (SSD) benefits and you are disabled, don’t lose hope. At LaBovick Law Group, we can help you get the compensation you deserve. We understand that being denied the Social Security disability insurance (SSDI) that you desperately need can be frustrating. We are dedicated to helping you through every step of the process, from application through appeals, so you don’t have to worry.
SSD Claims Explained
Several programs are included under Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD or SSDI) that provide disability payments and other benefits to disabled individuals and their families.
Benefits depend on your financial situation and whether you qualify under Social Security Administration (SSA) regulations. Social Security disability benefits may consist of cash payments and medical coverage.
Disabled people that are unable to work due to a physical or mental condition may be eligible for SSD benefits. Important factors in determining Social Security disability benefits include medical proof of disability and previous work experience.
Children of adults receiving Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) may also be eligible to receive Social Security disability (SSD) benefits, depending on the child’s age and dependent status.
Why are most initial claims denied?
Initial SSA disability claims are often rejected during a review by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) department. Most often this is due their conclusion that the claimant has a sufficient “residual functional capacity” to engage in some form of work related activity.
Unfortunately, the DDS rarely considers the attending physician’s opinion during their initial review. Medical records, lab reports and clinical tests are useful, but usually do not reveal the extent of the claimant’s limitations. Often due to time restraints, it may be difficult to motivate a doctor to organize their treatment notes and document a professional opinion.
Keep in mind that if you are denied Social Security disability benefits, you only have 60 days to file an appeal. A qualified social security lawyer can help facilitate a doctor’s full cooperation in providing detailed notes and opinions, while assembling a compelling and comprehensive disability case for their afflicted client.
Do I Qualify for Social Security Disability Benefits?
If you are suffering from a disability due to a medical condition, permanent injury or accident, you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits.
Although the qualification process for Social Security disability benefits can often seem intimidating and inconsistent, there are objective benchmarks used to establish eligibility. The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “disability” as the complete inability to work. They apply a strict interpretation of three primary criteria when determining the validity of a disability claim:
The claimant cannot do the work they did before.
The SSA decides that the claimant cannot adjust to other work because of their medical condition, and
The claimant’s disability has lasted, or is expected to last, for at least one year or will ultimately result in their death.
There are two separate programs managed by the SSA that provide benefits to eligible participants. Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is funded through payroll taxes. Under this program, credits are issued based on the cumulative number of hours worked. Anyone who has worked at least five of the last 10 years and has accrued enough credits to exceed the threshold may be entitled to Social Security disability benefits.
The medical evidence associated with a disability case is also extremely important. A well documented and extended history with a personal physician who will verify the severity of the affliction will have a tremendous influence on the Administrative Law Judge.
Most importantly, remain patient and persevere. The SSA usually denies a claim the first time the petitioner applies. With the help of a qualified disability lawyer, those that are truly disabled will eventually be able to obtain the benefits they are entitled to.
If you have one of the following conditions, you will likely qualify for Social Security disability benefits, and some of which may get you fast tracked:
Under the Listing of Impairment regulations, the claimant will automatically qualify for disability benefits if the SSA finds that they suffer from any of the predefined afflictions in the directive. For those that have disabilities that are not incorporated into the Listing of Impairments, the Medical Vocational Guidelines offers another qualification avenue. Fibromyalgia is an example of this type of impairment.
Eligibility is determined by the SSA with a detailed evaluation process that attempts to authenticate the severity of the condition and determine the future prognosis for recovery. This includes establishing specific criteria such as:
Work Status of the Petitioner: Those who are working and have average earnings of $1000 or more per month are generally not considered disabled.
The Severity of the Condition: The impairment must be significant enough to interfere with the claimant’s ability to complete normal work related activities within a reasonable period of time.
List of Impairment Classification: If the claimant can prove they are suffering from a condition that appears on the List of Impairment, their qualification for Social Security Benefits is virtually assured.
Ability to Engage in Other Work: If the affliction is verified through medical evidence, and the petitioner is unable to complete the type of work they performed over the last fifteen years, the SSA will determine whether they can engage in another vocation that is less physically demanding.
Understanding the SSA’s definition of disability and earning sufficient work related credits are important keys to a successful disability case outcome. Qualifying for Social Security disability benefits is a complicated process, and acquiring the services of an attorney well versed in disability law is highly recommended.
Don’t despair or give up hope if your Social Security disability checks have been terminated.
We are available 24/7 to discuss your disability claim.
How Do I Apply For Social Security Disability Insurance?
You may file for Social Security disability benefits with the assistance of an experience attorney, or you can file for disability on your own.
When you are applying for Social Security disability benefits, you must first locate all your relevant documents including:
dates of marriages and divorces
names and birth dates of your minor children and your spouse
military service discharge information for all periods of active duty (Form DD 214)
W-2 from last year
There are three ways you can file on your own:
You may make an appointment at your local Social Security office and file in person. In Palm Beach County, the two Social Security offices are located at:
DELRAY SQUARE II
14548 S MILITARY TRAIL
DELRAY BEACH, FL 33484
1645 N CONGRESS AVE
WEST PALM BEACH, FL 33409
2. You may file a claim online using the Social Security website: http://www.ssa.gov/pgm/disability.htm.
3. You may also file an application over the phone through the Social Security
At LaBovick Law Group, we assist applicants from the beginning of the process through the Federal Court system if that is necessary. We will assist you in locating the relevant documents, explaining your disability in the application and in building your medical case. We will also advocate for you at the hearing stage, where the most applicants are approved. Applicants have a higher success rate with the help of a qualified Social Security attorney.
How does a doctor’s opinion affect my SSD claim?
Building a successful Social Security disability (SSD) case is a significant undertaking that involves extensive research and detailed preparation by a qualified disability attorney. Although there are many acceptable sources of information relevant to the case, the opinion of a personal physician usually has the greatest evidentiary value. In fact, the guidelines that govern the SSDI hearing process clearly state that the opinion of the claimant’s physician is given “controlling weight” in the proceedings. This essentially means that in areas of uncertainty, the doctor’s conclusions will be assigned the greatest value.
Acceptable Medical Opinions
While the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers a medical practitioner familiar with the case to be of primary importance, they will also examine a number of relevant factors that may affect the validity of the physician’s medical opinions.
The doctor must be an acceptable medical source. SSA guidelines require that proof of the petitioner’s impairment must originate from an “acceptable medical source.” This includes properly licensed physicians, psychologists, optometrists, podiatrists and qualified speech-language pathologists. Medical professionals are only allowed to present opinions relating to their specific discipline.
The doctor must be the treating source. A personal physician who has treated the claimant is expected to provide a comprehensive perspective that transcends clinical tests and lab results.
The frequency of treatment and the associated timeline are important. The SSA places greater value on treatments that were frequent and carried out over an extended period of time. It is important that the sessions were organized, well documented and available for review in chronological order.
The doctor’s opinion must be consistent with supporting evidence. A physician’s conclusions relating to the claimant’s prognosis for recovery are more relevant when they are supported by laboratory findings and clinical testing results.
Specialists hold the most weight. Attending physicians are often certified in an area of specialized medicine that is applicable to the petitioner’s affliction. In these cases, the SSA will give added weight to the medical opinion of the specialist.
Other Types of Disability Benefits
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
SSI works in tandem with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to protect low income seniors and help persons with disabilities against poverty. It is a needs based program paid for by the US Treasury general funds, not the Social Security trust funds. People who have a low income and are either 65 or older, blind or disabled, may qualify for the program. If you qualify for SSI you may be eligible for other resources provided by your state including, Medicaid and food stamps.
Who Qualifies for Supplemental Security Income?
In order to qualify for SSI on the basis of a disability you must be found “disabled” under the SSA’s official definition. You must have a severe condition, unable to do substantial work because of the condition, and your medical condition must have lasted or be expected to last at least 12 months or expected to result in death.
Income and Resources:
Whether you can get SSI depends on your income and resources (the things you own). Income includes money you receive such as wages, Social Security benefits and pensions. It also includes food and shelter. Resources are the things you own and may include real estate, bank accounts, cash, stocks and bonds. Your resources must not exceed $2,000 for an individual or $3,000 for a couple.
When your SSI amount is calculated, your living arrangements are taken into account, including where you live, with whom you live and how your living expenses are paid. There are a couple of exclusions:
• The home you live in and the land it is on
• Your car
• Burial plots
• Life insurance policies with a face value of $1,500 or less.
How Much Supplemental Security Income Can I Get?
In 2013, the most you can receive in SSI payments is $710 per month. The amount you can receive varies per year, and it may be reduced depending on your income and resources.
What You Need to Apply for SSI:
• Social Security Card
• Birth Certificate
• Payroll slips, bank books, insurance policies, burial fund records, and other information about your income and resources
• Medical provider’s information
• Proof of citizenship
• Checkbook or other papers to show bank, credit union or savings and loan account number.
A disabled widow or widower can get Social Security disability benefits at age 50 if they meet the requirements. This disability must have started prior to the death or within seven years after the death of the wage earner.
Social Security disability survivor’s benefits can be paid to certain members of the family if the deceased worker paid Social Security taxes and earned enough credits.
Dependent parents at 62 or older.
Unmarried children under 18, or up to age 19 if they are attending elementary or secondary school full-time. A child can receive benefits at any age if he or she was disabled before age 22 and remains disabled. Under certain circumstances, Social Security benefits can also be paid to step children, grandchildren or adopted children.
A widow/widower may receive benefits at any age if he or she takes care of the deceased’s child under the age 16 or disabled who receives Social Security benefits.
A widow/widower full benefits at full retirement age (currently age 65), or reduced benefits as early as age 60. A disabled widow/widower may receive benefits as early as age 50.
A former spouse can receive benefits if the marriage lasted 10 years or more.
A widow/widower cannot receive benefits if they remarry before the age of 60 (50 if disabled) unless the latter marriage ends, whether by death, divorce or annulment. However, remarriage after age 60 (50 if disabled) will not prevent payments on a former spouse’s record.
Other types of disability benefits include:
Long Term Disability Compensation
Public Disability Payments
Social Security Retirement Benefits
If you have been denied Social Security disability, you have only 60 days after the denial to appeal if you want to preserve your claim for benefits. Call us today at 561-655-1777 or toll free at 866-522-6842. We are available 24/7 for a free consultation.
At LaBovick Law Group, we guide our clients through this complex and frustrating process, so they may receive the benefits they deserve. If you would like to file a claim, please call today for a FREE CONSULTATION.
Check out our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.