If a debilitating injury or illness makes it impossible to for you to work, you can apply for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (“SSA”). Over ten million people collect benefits each month, many of whom rely on this compensation as a primary source of income.
At our firm, we help clients get the social security benefits to which they are entitled. We help those who are disabled file a claim for benefits, and represent through the appeals process those who have had a claim denied. With significant experience in helping clients file for benefits over years of social security benefit representation, we know the types of matters that often lead to claims being rejected, and with this experience we can avoid many of the claim mistakes that are often made by those unfamiliar with the social security benefit process.
For What Types of Conditions are Social Security Benefits Available?
Social Security disability benefits are available for debilitating conditions such as:
- Back or spine injuries
- Immune system disorders
- Kidney disease
- Respiratory illnesses
- Hematological disorders
- Mental disorders
- Cardiovascular disease
- Neurological disorders
- Malignant neoplastic disorders
- Injuries from slip and fall work accidents
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
This is only a partial list of conditions for which social security benefits are available; in general, any condition or injury that renders a person unable to work may result in social security benefits being available.
To be considered disabled, a person must not be able to engage in substantial gainful activity as a result of a physical or mental disability which:
- Resulted or is expected to result in death; or
- Lasts for more than one year.
If you have sustained an injury or suffered from a condition which prevents you from working and is not likely to improve so that you can work again, it will be to your advantage to contact a social security benefits attorney as soon as possible so that you can file a claim and begin collecting compensation as soon as allowed under the social security regulations.
How is Social Security Benefit Eligibility Determined?
When making a disability determination, the SSA utilizes a five-step analysis:
- Can you work? If you work and earn more than $1,220 per month in income, you are generally not considered disabled.
- Is your condition severe? You condition must hinder you from accomplishing basic functions such as walking or sitting.
- Is your condition on the SSA disability list? The SSA publishes a catalog of medical conditions that are considered serious enough to prevent individuals from performing substantial gainful activity. To the extent that your condition is included in this list, it will be much easier to have a claim accepted (assuming that the required medical documentation is provided).
- Can you return to work? To be considered disabled, you must be unable to perform tasks that you could previously accomplish.
- Is there any work that you can perform? If your disability does not impair you from performing other types of work, you may be denied benefits. It is important to understand that simply being unable to perform your previous job will not necessarily qualify you for benefits; the social security administration will want to know if you can gainfully work.
The overwhelming majority of initial Social Security disability claims are denied,  often because an individual has failed to accumulate enough medical documentation to clearly demonstrate the extent of their injury or illness.
Determining whether you qualify, what documentation is needed, and applying or appealing for benefits can be difficult due to the SSA’s strict requirements and guidelines. As an injury attorney for three decades, experienced Bland, Virginia Social Security disability lawyer Mark Hurt can review your case, helping you file your claim, and represent you if you have already received a claim denial.
What are Social Security Disability Benefits?
For approximately 215,000 disabled Virginians and their families, the SSA offers five types of disability benefits:
- Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”). Disability insurance benefits are available to individuals who have worked enough to be insured under the program. Currently, the maximum benefit for 2019 is $2,861 per month.
- Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”). SSI is a need-based benefit offered to poor and disabled people who have less than $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple) in assets. In some cases, SSI can be collected concurrently with SSDI.
- Disabled Adult Child Benefits. Children who are disabled before the age of twenty-two and have a parent who is deceased, disabled, or retired under Social Security may be eligible for these benefits.
- SSI Disability Benefits for Children. These benefits are available to disabled children under the age of eighteen.
- Widow/Widowers Disability Benefits. Disability benefits are paid to over five million widows and widowers each month. Eligible individuals can begin receiving benefits as early as fifty years old.
How Does the SSDI or SSI Application Process Work?
A claim must be filed with the SSA to initiate the disability benefit process. A disability examiner at the Disability Determination Service (DDS) will evaluate the claim and decide whether to approve benefits.
If your application is denied, you can file for a reconsideration. Your claim will be assigned to a different examiner who was not involved in the original determination who will make a secondary determination.
If the reconsideration does not overturn the denial, you have sixty days to appeal the decision and request a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ will evaluate your claim, evidence, and testimony and then will make a final benefit determination.
The appeals process can be tedious and frustrating for those who are unfamiliar with the process. As an experienced Social Security disability lawyer serving clients in Bland and the surrounding communities, attorney Mark Hunt has helped numerous clients successfully appeal SSA denials to receive the benefits they deserved. If you have been denied disability compensation, we would look forward to putting our experience to work for you in seeking to secure benefits as soon as possible.
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Many disabled clients do not have the means to cover basic healthcare costs when they first consult with us, much less pay legal fees. The good news is that representation for social security benefits – both for the initial application and for appeals of a denial of benefits – is done on contingency fee basis. This percentage is typically equal to 25% of the “back pay” (pay that will be due immediately if the claim is approved), and this amount is subject to a maximum limit of $6,000. There is no fee awarded for future compensation that is not yet due. There also is no fee if you are not awarded disability benefits.
Prior to commencing representation, we will provide a fee agreement that details all costs associated with the engagement and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.
Call Today to Schedule a Free Social Security Disability Consultation!
Social Security Disability Lawyer Mark Hurt has been serving injured clients in the Bland and other communities for thirty years, and he has helped countless clients secure full compensation. Call to schedule a free consultation to find out how Mark can help you.
 Benefits Planner: Disability |How You Qualify, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.
 Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.pdf.
 Annual Statistical Report on The Social Security Disability Insurance Program, Social Security Administration (2018), https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_asr/2018/ssi_asr18.pdf. (4.3% of the almost 5 million Virginia residents collect SSDI).
 Fact Sheet, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2019.pdf. Each year, the SSA determines the amount of income needed to earn SSDI credits. In 2019, one credit was granted for every $1,360 in income. Typically, a person must accumulate 40 credits to qualify and must earn 20 of these credits within 10 years prior to the disability date.
 2019 Red Book, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/redbook/eng/supportsexample.htm.
 If we are successful, ordinarily, the SSA will pay the fee directly to our firm, but you will be responsible for minor expenses, such as the cost to obtain medical records. While the above fee explanation is generally applicable to most matters, there are certain cases when other fees may be applicable; we will explain and provide a full fee explanation in our retention agreement.