Marion, Virginia Social Security Disability LawyerLiving with a debilitating injury or disability is difficult enough when you have adequate financial resources.  For those individuals who are not financially stable, it can be overwhelming and seem nearly impossible.  The federal government offers disability benefit compensation that is designed to help disabled individuals (who are unable to work) and their families compensate for lost income.

Social Security Disability Benefit Types

According to the Social Security Administration (“SSA”), a person is disabled if they cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which:

  • Will result or is expected to result in death; or
  • Lasts for a continuous period of not less than twelve months.”[1]

The SSA offers five types of disability benefits:

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”)
  • Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)
  • Disabled Adult Child Benefits
  • SSI Disability Benefits for Children
  • Widow’s/Widower’s Disability Benefits

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is a work-based disability program that pays up to $2,861[2] in benefits to individuals if they have worked and paid Social Security taxes during their career and earned sufficient credits based upon their tax contributions into the social security system.

The amount of taxable income needed to earn one credit is determined each year by the SSA. Currently, workers earn a single credit for every $1,360 of taxable income they earn.[3] Typically, a minimum of forty lifetime credits are required for social security disability eligibility, half of which must be earned within ten years prior to the disability.

Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”)

SSI benefits are for individuals who are blind, disabled, or age sixty-five or older.  To qualify, a person must have a limited income and cannot have assets exceeding $2,000 ($3,000 for a couple).  We can help you determine if you qualify for these benefits.

Disabled Adult Child Benefits

An adult who becomes disabled before the age of twenty-two may be eligible for social security child’s benefits, if a parent begins receiving retirement or disability payments or is deceased.[4] The benefit payment is calculated based upon the parent’s Social Security earnings record (which is the reason that it is referred to as a “child’s benefit”).

SSI Disability Benefits for Children

Disabled children whose families have very little income can collect Supplemental Security Income until they reach the age of eighteen.  Thereafter, they may be eligible to begin collecting adult SSI benefits.

Widow’s/Widower’s Disability Benefits

If a disabled worker receiving benefits dies, benefits may extend to their widow, widower, or surviving divorced spouse with a disability in certain circumstances.  Currently, there are over five million widows and widowers collecting disability compensation based their deceased spouse’s earnings.  To qualify, a widow or widower must meet the following requirements:

  • The widow/widower is between ages fifty and sixty;
  • Their condition meets the SSA definition of disability; and
  • The disability began within seven years of the worker’s death.[5]

Tips for Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

Approximately, seventy percent of initial Social Security disability applications are denied, [6] often because of trivial application errors or inadequate medical documentation.    For years, experienced Marion, Virginia Social Security Disability Lawyer Mark Hurt has been assisting clients with disability claims, and has gained firsthand knowledge of why many SSDI and SSI applications are denied.

Tips to Help Avoid Unfavorable Benefit Determinations

When considering filing for social security benefits, the following are important steps to take:

  • Evaluate your likelihood of success. If your (1) physical or mental impairment is severe, (2) your impairment limits your daily living activities, (3) your disability has lasted or is expected to persist longer than twelve months, and (4) your physician is agreeable with this assessment, you can apply for benefits.  We can also help you in this regard.
  • Compile medical evidence and follow your treatment plan. SSDI and SSI disability determinations hinge on what can be physically proven.  Thus, it is important to accumulate evidence and create a record that substantiates the extent of your disability.  This can be accomplished by regularly attending physician’s visits and by following your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan.  This will not only document the extent of your condition but may also show that your disability is not significantly improving, despite receiving medical treatment.
  • Keep thorough records. It can be difficult to keep up with dates or details without documentation.  Keep a journal of medical events and pain levels, prescription pill bottles, business cards of every physician you consult with, and other pertinent documents relating to your disability.
  • Provide detailed information regarding your symptoms. A physician will likely diagnose your condition, but you will need to answer questions posed by the SSA and provide details regarding your symptoms (e.g., How severe is your pain? What aggravates your condition?).  It is important to not omit or downplay any minor conditions associated with the primary disability and to adequately explain your impairments in detail.
  • Provide details regarding your physical restrictions. The SSA focuses on limitations, rather than on a diagnosis.  Disability benefits are typically not awarded if a person can perform any work.  It is important to provide specific details regarding your functional limitations and to explain how your impairment prevents you from performing basic tasks (such as standing, sitting for long periods of time, or walking).
  • Be consistent. Providing truthful and accurate information to the SSA is critical.  Contradictions, discrepancies, and lapses in memory may convey to a disability examiner that you are not credible; consequently, your claim may be denied.

What Happens When Social Security Claims are Denied?

Based on statistics, it is likely that approximately one in four adult Marion residents has a disability that significantly interferes with their ability to engage in normal life activities.[7] For many of these individuals who are unable to work, SSDI and SSI may be desperately needed to help cover living and medical expenses.  Unfortunately, most new claims will be denied, even when applicants medically qualify for benefits.  An experienced Social Security disability lawyer is often critical in the process of appealing an adverse determination.

When a disability examiner denies a claim, the determination can be appealed through a two-step process.  First, an applicant can request a reconsideration.  During a reconsideration, an independent examiner (one who was not involved in the initial adverse determination) will review the case and, after this review, make an independent determination.

If the claim is denied again, a social security disability applicant will have sixty days after this determination to appeal and request a formal administrative hearing before a judge (who is known as an Administrative Law Judge, or “ALJ”).  An administrative hearing is much like a trial – disabled individuals are often represented by an attorney, medical evidence is presented, and witnesses testify.

Having an experienced Marion, Virginia Social Security disability lawyer appeal your claim can help to increase your chance of success.  Mark Hurt has been assisting clients with disability claims and appeals for years; he understands what is needed to get benefits approved and is known for his record of success.

If you have a disability and have been denied benefits, Mark can help you appeal to receive everything that you are entitled to.  At our firm, we represent clients on a contingency fee basis – we will not receive a fee unless compensation is recovered, and our fee will only apply to “back pay” (and not to future compensation which is not yet due).  Our fee is twenty-five percent of the backpay amount, and is typically subject to a $6,000 maximum in accordance with SSA regulations.[8]

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today and Learn Your Rights

We understand the devastating physical, psychological, and financial ramifications that individuals often experience after becoming disabled.  If you are disabled, it is important to understand that you are not alone.  At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we will work vigorously to help secure disability compensation for you and your family.  Call today to schedule a free consultation to learn how Mark can help you file a disability claim or appeal a denial.

 


[1] Medical/Professional Relations, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/general-info.htm.

[2] Fact Sheet, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/factsheets/colafacts2019.pdf (This is the maximum benefit for 2019, but this number may change in subsequent years).

[3] Benefits Planner: Disability | How You Qualify, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.

[4] Benefits Planner: Disability | How You Qualify, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.

[5] Benefits Planner: Disability | How You Qualify, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.

[6] Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.pdf.

[7] CDC: 1 in 4 US adults live with a disability, Centers for Disease Control, https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2018/p0816-disability.html.

[8] Except in some situations a different fee amount may be applicable; we will discuss this with you and explain this in writing at the outset of an engagement as part of our representation agreement.