Bristol, TN Social Security Disability Lawyer for SSDI and SSI Benefits
All of us who work for a company or organization in the United States pay a portion of each check into the social security system. This money not only funds retirement benefits, but also disability benefits for those who can no longer work due to injury or a medical condition. Those who are self-employed must also pay into the social security system based upon their earnings.
As Congress has sought fit to not only create the social security retirement system but also to provide income benefits to those who become disabled, social security disability payments are not an act of charity. If you’ve become disabled and cannot work, you are entitled to these benefits.
Why Should I Hire a Social Security Lawyer? How We Help Clients
Approximately 70% of all social security disability claims are initially rejected (and over 80% of reconsiderations – the first step after a claim denial – are also rejected). These high denial rates are not a result of the applicants not medically qualifying for benefits. Instead, the majority of these denials are due to the application or reconsideration being defective in some respect (usually, because adequate documentation supporting the disability claim was not provided).
When claims are rejected, those entitled to benefits – and their families – suffer tremendously.
As a Bristol social security lawyer in Tennessee, we know well the types of defects that normally occur when individuals complete applications without legal assistance. With this knowledge, we can reduce that chance that a needless error or lack of proper documentation will occur, which would postpone the receipt of critical social security payments.
Additionally, we will also want to also make sure that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) properly classifies a client’s case in the most severe category for which the case qualifies (usually as a MINE or MIE category case; see the discussion below). Having a case classified in a more severe category means that there will be much more time between SSA reviews of a case. And, with MINE classifications, there is a presumption that a person will never be able to work again due to the disability.
What Types of Social Security Benefits Are Available?
Social Security benefits are paid in two forms – Social Security Disability Income (“SSDI) benefits and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”) benefits. Most qualifying applicants are only entitled to one or the other of these benefit types; however, some applicants may be entitled to both categories of benefits.
SSDI benefits are not are needs-based. Instead, the income benefit provided is available to any person who is disabled so long as they meet the work history contributions of making payments into the social security system and if they otherwise qualify.
SSI benefits are needs-based, and thus an applicant will need to show that he or she qualifies until the applicable guidelines (such as income level, etc.).
My Initial Application Was Denied – Can You Help Me?
We can carefully review your application during a free consultation – call us to get started. Once we have a chance to review your application, we can explain how we can help you appeal your case if it appears that you qualify for benefits.
What Periodic Eligibility Reviews are Conducted by the SSA?
Once a person is awarded SSDI or SSI benefits, continued access to benefits is dependent upon a person continuing to be disabled under the SSA guidelines and requirements.
In order to better ensure that the SSA is not paying benefits to those who are medically eligible to work, the SSA initially categorizes claims into one of three groups: Medical Improvement Expected (“MIE”), Medical Improvement Possible (“MIP”), or Medical Improvement Not Expected (“MINE”). Subsequently, the SSA conducts reviews under each of these categories to determine continued benefit eligibility.
Reviews for MIE claims are conducted approximately every 6-18 months, reviews under MIP are conducted approximately every two to five years, and reviews under MINE are conducted every five to seven years.
How Long do Social Security Disability Income Benefits Last?
SSDI benefits will last until a determination is made by the SSA that an individual is medically able to work (or until the individual actually returns to work). If neither of these events occur and the individual continues to be disabled under the SSA regulations, SSDI and SSI benefits are available until a person reaches age 65, at which time the person is eligible to receive social security retirement benefits.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer?
Many people are reluctant to hire a social security disability lawyer because they think the lawyer will be too expensive. The common fear is that social security lawyers will charge one-third of the total amount that is paid, which can be a substantial amount (particularly if a person becomes injured at a young age).
Fortunately for those who are disabled, these fears are unfounded.
As Bristol social security lawyers, we accept cases on a contingence fee based upon 25% of the past amount due (often called the “back pay”). There is no fee payable to us for future payments that are not yet due. As we are retained on a contingency fee basis, there is also no fee due to us if compensation is not recovered.
If we are successful in recovering compensation for a client, our fee is usually paid directly to us by the Social Security Administration; thus you probably will not need to write a check to us for any fee to which we may be due.
The maximum fee to which we may be entitled is capped under law at $6,000, except in a few very specific circumstances.
As a client, you will be responsible for certain incidental costs for your case, such as any expenses required to obtain medical records.
Before commencing representation, we will prepare an engagement letter agreement for your approval, which will set forth the matters concerning the scope of our representation, fees, and costs.
How the Social Security Disability Income Process Works
The Application Process
The process for seeking social security disability benefits begins with the initial application. The key purposes of the initial application are to determine:
- Whether the applicant has proven medical disability under the SSA guidelines and regulations
- To which of the three categories noted above the applicant should be assigned
- Whether the applicant has met the work eligibility requirements for SSDI benefits
- Whether the applicant qualifies for SSI benefits.
These areas will then be addressed by the SSA.
Because the SSA regulations (and, in particular, those concerning proving medical disability) may be complex, the initial applications for most claims are denied.
As experienced social security benefits lawyers serving Bristol, Tennessee and the surrounding communities, we understand the complex application process. While we cannot guaranty that an initial claim will be approved, we do know how to prepare claims and to provide the necessary proof that is required. We seek to help clients maximize their chance of getting their claim approved quickly, as well as helping them avoid (to the extent possible) the initial rejections, delays, and appeals that can result with incomplete submissions, or submissions that do not provide the level of proof and detail required by the government in order to award disability benefits.
The Appeals Process
In most cases, the appeals process is centered on proving medical disability in accordance with the regulations and requirements adopted by the SSA. These rules and regulations focus on documenting the medical conditions of an applicant that prevent the applicant from reasonable performing any type of job given the typical conditions associated with a job. Our role is to carefully address such rules and regulations, and to show, based upon medical records and physician opinion, how a client’s condition falls squarely within the established disability requirements.
To Learn More About How We Can Help, Please Call or Contact Our Firm
We would invite you to get started with a free consultation to learn how the law offices of Mark T. Hurt can help.