Roanoke, VA Social Security Disability Lawyer for SSD Benefits
Social Security Disability (SSD) income aids severely disabled individuals who are unable to work for at least one year. Administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), these benefits provide regular, monthly payments. However, the SSD application process can be long, tedious, and complicated, leaving many applicants frustrated and without a means to afford necessities for substantial lengths of time.
Claimants must abide by strict rules and regulations set by the SSA, including the detailed requirements for proving disability. When these requirements are not met, the SSA must deny the claim; they can’t simply request additional information.
Because of the strict criteria, over 70% of all initial applications are rejected, often for technical errors or minor deviations from the guidelines. Requests for Reconsideration, the first level of appeal, are denied at an even higher rate of 85%. Thus, it is vital to present a claim correctly from the outset. An experienced Social Security Disability attorney can increase the chances of obtaining benefits by helping to avoid many of common application pitfalls.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have been advising and representing individuals in injury matters throughout Roanoke, Virginia, and the surrounding areas for over thirty years. As a Social Security Disability Lawyer, firm founder Mark Hurt can assess your eligibility for benefits, prepare and file an initial application, or appeal if you are denied benefits.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation Today – Learn About the Benefits to Which You May Be Entitled, and How the SSD Process Works
Call our offices at 276-623-0808 to schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation. Once we learn about your case, we can explain your options and how we can help, as well as answer any questions you may have.
We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning there are no upfront costs, and you will only pay a fee if you are awarded benefits. We serve clients in Roanoke and the surrounding communities, including (but not limited to) Vinton, Cave Spring, Salem, Hollins, Catawba, Hollins, Blue Ridge, Amsterdam, Elliston, and New Castle, and throughout Southwest Virginia.
How Can I Obtain Social Security Disability Benefits?
An applicant will be considered disabled and eligible for benefits under the SSA rules if:
- Work that was previously performed can no longer be accomplished;
- Other work cannot be completed because of the disabling condition; and
- The impairment lasts or is expected to last for at least one year or result in death.
To prove these requirements, extensive medical and work history records must be submitted. Most initial applications are denied because of a lack of medical or vocational evidence; thus, claimants need to compile as much documentation as possible. The following steps can help in meeting the evidentiary requirements and substantiating a claim:
- Contact employers for work records and IRS W-2s
- Seek regular medical treatment
- Follow all physician orders
- See specialists (when necessary)
- Undergo diagnostic testing (MRI, CAT scan, bloodwork, etc.)
- Request medical records
What Should I Do If I Can’t Afford an Attorney for My Disability Claim?
When you hire our firm, you needn’t worry about how you will afford our services. We represent clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we will only be entitled to a fee if benefits are obtained. Further, our fee is only assessed on SSD back payments; consequently, you will keep 100% of any future benefits that you receive (those that arise after an award is made and which are not yet payable).
In most cases, federal law caps attorney fees at 25% of the back pay amount; thus, no matter how long it takes to handle a claim, clients do not have to worry about incurring higher bills. This can be advantageous, especially if a lengthy appeal is needed to secure disability payments.
As an example, for clients needing assistance in filing an initial application, the “back pay” portion of an award will be limited, since there likely will not have been significant time that has elapsed from the onset of the disabling condition. Hiring an attorney at this stage, however, can be critical in increasing the chances of getting a claim approved at the outset, as well as avoiding months (or even years) of appeals.
If you become a client of our firm, we will provide a detailed engagement letter outlining the terms of our representation and will be happy to answer any financial or nonfinancial questions that you may have.
Does My Injury, Illness, or Condition Qualify as a Disability?
The following are a few examples of the impairments that automatically qualify under the SSA Blue Book:
- Major Dysfunction of a joint(s)
- Spine disorders
- Fracture of an upper extremity
- Cystic Fibrosis
- Chronic respiratory disorders
- Loss of central visual acuity
- Loss of visual efficiency
- Loss of Speech
- Hearing loss
- Chronic liver disease
- Gastrointestinal hemorrhaging and issues
- Bowel syndrome
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Photosensitivity disorders
- Hormonal issues and imbalance
- Cerebral palsy
- Brain tumors
- Depressive, bipolar, and related disorders
- Intellectual disorder
- Immune disorders
If a condition is not automatically categorized as a disability in the Blue Book, the SSA must make an individual determination as to whether the impairment is severe enough to qualify for benefits. This can be highly subjective; thus, the extent of the condition must be adequately explained and medically documented.
Firm founding attorney Mark Hurt has over three decades of legal practice and knows how to present a compelling case. If you have an impairment that does not automatically meet the SSA disability definition, he can thoroughly explain the extent of your injuries and zealously advocate for the full and fair benefits to which you are rightfully entitled.
Will I Lose My Social Security Disability (SSD) if I Work?
The SSA allows benefit recipients to engage in limited work. Still, it is imperative that earnings do not exceed a certain amount set by the SSA each year, as this can result in benefit ineligibility. If an applicant earns more than this amount, referred to as the substantial gainful activity (SGA) limit, it is assumed that considerable work can be performed. In 2020, the monthly SGA limit is $1,260 for non-blind individuals and $2,110 for blind claimants.
In addition to the amount of money earned, the SSA routinely looks at the number of hours worked. Even if the SGA limit is not exceeded, if a significant number of shifts are worked, it can signify that an applicant is not disabled. For instance, if a person works 30 hours per week, the SSA may determine that they are ineligible for benefits.
Because benefits can be compromised by working too much or earning more than the SGA limit, it is crucial to ensure that SSA thresholds are not exceeded. If you intend to work part-time, it is vital that you reach out to our firm to schedule a free consultation before you begin employment, so that we can help you potentially avoid compromising disability payments.
Are There Eligibility Requirements for SSD?
A disability alone is not enough to qualify for SSD benefits. Applicants must also earn enough work credits during their career to be eligible for benefits. Workers can earn up to four credits per year, depending on the amount of income received. Each year the amount of earnings needed changes; in 2020, one credit is awarded per $1,410 earned.
Work credit eligibility requirements can vary from individual to individual, but the following is the general schedule:
- 24 years old or younger: 6 work credits within three years before the date of disability
- Age 24 – 30: Half the time between the age of 21 and the date of disability. For example, if you are disabled at age 27, three years of credits are needed (12 credits)
- Age 31 – 42: 20 credits within ten years immediately before the date of disability
- Age 44: 22 Credits
- Age 46: 24 Credits
- Age 48: 26 Credits
- Age 50: 28 Credits
- Age 52: 30 Credits
- Age 54: 32 Credits
- Age 56: 34 Credits
- Age 58: 36 Credits
- Age 60: 38 Credits
- Age 62 or above: 40 Credits, 20 of which must be earned within ten years immediately before the date of disability
Calculating work credits can be difficult, especially if a disability occurs at a younger age or employment records are not readily available. At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can examine your work history and help determine potential benefit eligibility.
What Can I Do If I Am Denied SSD?
If you are denied benefits, it is essential to request an appeal immediately, as there is a 60-day deadline. A denial can be appealed at four levels:
- Reconsideration. The initial decision will be reviewed by an independent examiner at the Virginia Disability Determination Services (DDS) bureau. On average, the chances of approval are approximately 13%.
- Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing. An ALJ hearing is much like a traditional trial in that both sides can present additional evidence and witnesses. Nationally, approximately 50% of all claimants will be approved.
- Review by the Appeals Council. If denied by the ALJ, the Social Security Appeals Council will review the claim. Chances of success are only approximately 1%.
- Federal Court Review. If all other levels of appeal are exhausted, a denial can be appealed in federal court; however, they are seldom overturned. 
Statistics show that hiring an attorney can significantly improve the chances of winning an appeal. If you were denied benefits, Mark Hurt can evaluate your claim, help compile documentation, provide recommendations for expert witnesses, and fight at any appeal level to get you the benefits you deserve.
How Long Does an Appeal Take?
If you are denied benefits, it can take years to secure disability payments. For example, in Roanoke, the average wait time for an ALJ hearing is 14 months, and it takes approximately 492 days to process a case.
Because of the length of time involved in appealing, it is advantageous to obtain an approval at the reconsideration or ALJ level, making it vital to secure an SSD attorney who understands what examiners and Administrative Law Judges are looking for. If you receive a denial, contact our offices as soon as possible so that we can potentially assist in securing approval without having to exhaust all methods of appeal.
Why Should I Hire a Roanoke Social Security Disability Attorney?
Even though you may qualify for benefits, it does not mean that you will be awarded SSD payments. It may be necessary to enlist the services of a knowledgeable Virginia Social Security Disability attorney to improve your chances of securing benefits from the outset or winning an appeal.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can help to ensure that documentation is completed thoroughly and that your case is presented to the SSA in the most persuasive manner possible. If benefits are denied, we can fight tenaciously to assist in seeking to secure the full benefits to which you are entitled. Call our offices to schedule a free consultation to learn how to get started.
 Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/AdultListings.htm.
 Substantial Gainful Activity, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html.
 The Appeals Process, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf.
 Virginia ODAR Offices, DisabilityJudges.com, https://www.disabilityjudges.com/state/virginia.
“Mark is great an his staff is second to none. They always answer questions an call you back, I especially want to thank Carol she is the best”
This law firm is excellent to work with and I highly recommend them. Jessica was great to work with for me filing a disability claim through the Social Security Administration. She answered all my questions and concerns quickly and efficiently.