Over 70% of all Social Security disability claims are initially denied, even when the applicant medically qualifies for benefits.[1] The reality is that the Social Security Administration (“SSA”) unfortunately denies benefits to thousands of qualifying and disabled individuals each year, leaving many of those who are disabled and their families without vital compensation needed to help offset income lost as a result of no longer being able to work.

Rather than issuing denials based on the medical status of applicants (i.e., whether they are actually disabled), hundreds of thousands of applications are denied benefits based on technicalities, such as lack of sufficient medical evidence, improperly completed claim forms, or failure to attend third party consultative exams.[2]

As an experienced Pulaski, Virginia Social Security disability attorney, Mark Hurt has extensive knowledge about the common reasons for denials, and he understands how to avoid these technical issues to obtain favorable outcomes whenever possible as a result of the initial application.  By hiring an experienced Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI) or Social Security Income (“SSI”) lawyer, your chances of prevailing before the SSA and collecting compensation quickly can substantially increase.

Can I Afford an Experienced Social Security Disability Attorney?

Many people are hesitant to reach to attorneys for help in filing a disability claim because they are fearful of the expense involved.  However, in the case of the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, this fear is unfounded, as clients will only pay a fee if they receive SSDI or SSI backpay.  We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only are awarded a fee if you prevail.

In general, if we are successful in helping you secure a disability benefit approval, we will receive  a 25% fee of the backpay amount (typically capped at $6,000 by the SSA), and there is no fee with respect to future benefits or income received.[3]

Payments for our fees are generally issued directly from the SSA to our firm, so in the event of a successful award, you will likely not have to pay us directly.  However, you will be required to pay (or reimburse us for the payment of) ancillary expenses, such as costs for obtaining medical records(typically these costs are not substantial).  We desire for all our clients to fully understand the costs and expenses associated with our representation; thus, we provide a detailed fee arrangement at the outset (which governs our representation of you with respect to these matters).  We will go over the fee and cost matters at the outset of our engagement, and we are happy to answer any questions that you may have.

What are Social Security Disability Benefits?

For the over 51.3 million United States workers who lack adequate short or long-term disability insurance,[4] social security disability may be the sole means of financial support in the event that they become injured or suffer from a medical condition which prevents them from working.  When workers sustain debilitating employment injuries or illnesses that render them unable to work for at least twelve months, the federal government offers disability benefits to help compensate for lost income.

Financial disability support is offered through the SSA’s Social Security Disability Insurance and Supplemental Security Income programs, which are two separate programs.  To qualify as an adult, an individual must have a determinable physical or mental impairment (including an emotional or learning problem) which:

  • Results in the inability to do any substantial gainful activity; and
  • Can be expected to result in death; or
  • Has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.

How Many People Currently Collect Social Security Disability Benefits?

Each year, over ten million disabled people receive benefit payments through SSDI and SSI, typically amounting to an average of $1,233.70 per month.[5] For those who remain disabled permanently or for a long-term, these benefits can extend until normal retirement age, at which point regular social security retirement benefits will begin.

Can I Collect Social Security Disability Benefits and Still Work?

While disability benefit recipients are typically not allowed to receive benefits and continue working, there are limited exceptions.  In 2019, if you earn less than $1,220 per month (or $2,040 if you are blind) or if you take part in one of the SSA’s work incentive programs, you may still be able to qualify for SSDI.[6] Because working can substantially impact eligibility, it is advisable to consult an experienced Pulaski SSDI attorney to obtain information regarding how employment may impact your benefits, prior to commencing work.

What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?

The primary difference between Social Security Disability Income and Supplemental Security Income is that SSDI is available to workers who have accumulated a specific amount of work credits, while SSI benefits are available to low-income individuals who either have not worked, or who have not worked long enough to accumulate sufficient credits.

Who is Eligible for SSDI?

SSDI is primarily funded through taxation.  A portion of workers’ paychecks are allocated to the SSDI program.  If an individual becomes disabled, these benefits are drawn from to help compensate for lost income.

To ensure that enough money is contributed to pay for future disability benefit disbursements, the SSA requires that individuals accumulate a specified number of credits throughout their working career in order to become eligible for coverage.  Typically, qualification for SSDI requires a minimum of forty work credits, twenty of which must be earned in the 10 years preceding the disabling injury.  While these are the standard minimum requirements, a person who becomes disabled at a young age may qualify with fewer credits.

Each year, the SSA determines the amount of wages or self-employment income that equates to one credit.  For example, in 2019, individuals earned one credit for every $1,360 in wages or self-employment income.[7]

Who is Eligible for SSI?

SSI is strictly needs-based, meaning that it is not dependent upon work history. Instead, to qualify, individuals must have less than $2,000 in assets (or $3,000 per couple) and very limited income.[8]

What Should I Do if I was Denied SSDI or SSI Benefits?

The overwhelming majority of initial disability claim applications result in denials; however, this does not bar a person from continuing to seek benefits.  Fortunately, Pulaski residents who are initially denied can request a reconsideration or appeal the decision to potentially secure a more favorable determination.

In Virginia, the first step in the appeals process is to request a reconsideration of the initial denial.  The reconsideration is a review of a claim that is conducted by a medical consultant or examiner who was not a party to the initial decision.  If the claim is denied at the reconsideration level, the next step is requesting a formal hearing before an administrative law judge within sixty days of receiving the denial notification.

For over thirty years Mark Hurt has been helping injured Virginians in seeking all compensation to which they deserve under the law.  If you have been denied benefits, Mark can evaluate your situation to gain an understanding of your disability, develop a strategy to provide the best opportunity of prevailing in the initial stage, or, if your initial claim has been rejected, he can represent you in an appeal.  Mark provides a tenacious and vigorous representation of clients at all stages in seeking to obtain for them the rightful benefits to which they are entitled.

Call Today to Schedule A Free Consultation

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we utilize our three decades of experience in seeking full compensation for each and every client. With respect to social security benefit matters, we utilize this knowledge to help increase initial approval rates and to help overturn unjust denials.  If you are interested in filing for benefits or if you have been denied SSDI or SSI, we are here to help.  Call us today to schedule a free consultation to learn more.


[1] Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.pdf.

[2] Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.pdf.

[3] This is a general overview of fees for social security claims; there are some instances in which other fees may be applicable.

[4] The Crisis of Disability Coverage in America, Council for Disability Awareness, http://disabilitycanhappen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-CDA-RealityCheckup-Media-Kit.pdf.

[5] Research, Statistics & Policy Analysis, Social Security Administration (Oct. 2019), https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/index.html.

[6] Work Incentives, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/disabilityresearch/wi/generalinfo.htm.

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

[8] Understanding Supplemental Security Income SSI Eligibility Requirements – 2019 Edition, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm