The first step to prepare for a strong social security disability case is to hire an experienced government lawyer. It is important to prepare for a consultation with a Social Security Disability lawyer. It is also important for an individual to have at least a basic understanding of what is needed for a Social Security disability case. This will help an individual know what to bring to their consultation as well as what issues may be discussed.
Social security is a government program that can provide financial support for disabled, elderly, and/or retired individuals. An individual pays a percentage of their income to the government known as social security taxes. If an individual becomes disabled or retires, the government will issue monthly checks based on the amount the individual paid into the system during their employment years. Not everyone is eligible for these benefits.
In order to understand an individual’s Social Security disability claim, a lawyer will need accurate and detailed information. Every lawyer will have their own individual process for their consultation but, in general, the information needed will be the same.
In order to obtain Social Security disability benefits, an individual must meet the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. A five-step analysis is used. It is important to understand this analysis, which includes the following steps:
- Is the individual working?
- If an individual meets and/or exceeds the threshold, they cannot receive Social Security benefits, even if they meet the criteria. The thresholds as of 2016 were $1,130 per month for non-blind workers and $1,820 per month for blind workers.
- Does the individual have a severe impediment?
- The impediment must significantly limit the individuals physical and/or mental ability to do basic work activities and the medical condition and/or conditions must have existed for at least a year and/or will last for at least a year.
- Does the individual meet or equal a listing of impairment?
- Listings of Impairment describe specific symptoms and conditions and provide specific disability criteria. These listings can be extremely technical.
- Can the individual perform past relevant work?
- This may include work done in the past 15 years; and
- Can the individual perform other work?
- If an individual can perform other work that is not the same as their past relevant work, their claim may be denied.
During the consultation, the attorney will want to know the status of the individual’s claim. The analysis process described above is very complex and difficult to handle without an attorney’s help. If an individual’s Social Security disability claim has been denied, it will be important to file a timely appeal.
A Social Security disability denial must be appealed in a timely manner. The laws regarding when an appeal must be filed will vary by state. In most cases, an appeal will be denied if it is filed after the required deadline.
An individual’s financial status may impact their Social Security Claim. If an individual is homeless, their attorney may be able to expedite the appeal process. In some cases, a Social Security hearing office may expedite an appeal for an individual with dire financial needs.
If an individual has limited financial resources, they may be entitled to Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. The two kinds of Social Security disability benefits are Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and SSI. SSDI is based on an individual’s work industry and earnings. SSI is based on an individual’s financial needs. In some cases, an individual may be eligible for both.
In some cases, a previous denial of Social Security benefits may impact an individual’s current application or appeal, especially if the individual has had a previous hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
Medical evidence is the foundation of any Social Security disability claim. An individual cannot receive benefits unless their medical conditions prevent them from working.
What Type of Documents and Questions Should I Bring to My Social Security Attorney?
It is important to gather relevant documents and compile a list of questions an individual may have before meeting with their attorney. An individual should bring copies of any Social Security correspondence, including letters and/or denials. This is important for the lawyer to review to determine the status of issues and claims in an individual’s case. In most cases, an attorney cannot file an appeal, known as a Request for Hearing, without a date from the denial letter.
The second most important information to bring to a consultation is medical records and/or any medical information. The attorney needs to know about any and all serious medical conditions. An attorney will also want to review a list of any doctors and/or other medical providers, including, but not limited to:
- Physical therapists;
- Mental health counselors; and
An individual should also bring documentation such as:
- Any work restriction slips,
- Information about an individual’s medications, and
- Any paperwork from other disability claims, which may include workers’ compensation and/or short-term disability claims.
An attorney will also need to review an individual’s work history. It is important for the attorney to know all education and qualifications the individual has, as discussed below.
It is also important for an individual to compile a list of any questions they may have about their case. Often, these types of cases are denied the first time just as an attempt to discourage an individual from further attempts to obtain benefits. An attorney will be able to explain all aspects of the case and how to proceed with the claim.
What Makes a Strong or Weak Social Security Disability Case?
A strong case is made with the help of an attorney. An attorney will attempt to maximize the Social Security benefits an individual obtains. In general, an individual cannot receive benefits when they are working full-time. If an individual’s work was significantly reduced and/or accommodated prior to when they stopped working, they may be entitled to an earlier disability onset date, and, therefore, more benefits.
An individual’s education and work experience are important parts of any Social Security claim. Eligibility is based, in part, on whether or not an individual is capable of doing work within their training and qualifications. Social Security has vocational experts on staff who evaluate an applicant’s work and education.
An attorney will know what evidence is most important and how to best present it for a successful case. A strong case includes evidence that an individual is unable to work in a job that they are qualified for due to their disability and/or medical condition.
What Types of Social Security Disability Cases Benefit the Most from an Attorney’s Help?
All Social Security disability cases benefit from the assistance of an attorney. There are many different facts that can cause an individual’s claim to be denied. These may include:
- Making too much money;
- Not being injured sufficiently to prevent working;
- The claimant’s primary address is no longer valid;
- Lack of cooperation from the claimant;
- The claimant is not following the prescribed therapy;
- The disability claimed is for an alcohol and/or drug addiction; and/or
- The claimant committed fraud.
When Do I Need a Social Security Attorney?
You need a government lawyer is needed for any Social Security claim. These claims are too complex for you to handle on your own. An attorney will help you understand your rights, the basis of your claim, and help you apply for disability benefits. If your claim is denied, your attorney can help you file an appeal. Typically, a claim that is filed with the assistance of an attorney is much more likely to be successful.