Salem, VA Social Security Disability LawyerSalem, VA Social Security Disability Lawyer for SSD Applications & Appeals

Serving Clients in Salem, Roanoke, Vinton, Cave Springs, Hollins, Elliston, New Castle, and throughout Southwestern Virginia. 

In Virginia, Social Security Disability is awarded to eligible workers who have sustained injuries or disabling conditions which prevent them from working for at least one year.  Applying for and being awarded benefits is a complex process, requiring significant medical documentation and intensive paperwork.  Applying is so complicated that over 70% of initial applications are denied, despite many claimants having qualifying disabilities.

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we represent clients at every stage of the Social Security Disability (SSD) claim process, from filing an initial application for benefits to appealing the denial of a claim, to providing representation at appeals hearings.

If you are unable to work because of a debilitating condition and would like to apply for benefits or appeal a disability denial, call our offices to schedule a complimentary consultation.  By working with an experienced attorney, there is less of a chance of making an error on an application that can potentially hurt a claim and a substantially higher chance of winning an appeal.  Our knowledgeable SSD team can assist in gathering medical records, communicating with doctors, submitting forms, and monitoring deadlines.

If an administrative hearing is necessary, firm founding attorney Mark Hurt can explain the process, provide insights on the questions that the judge is likely to ask, and fight tenaciously in seeking to obtain the full benefits to which you are rightfully entitled.

There is Never A Fee for Our Services Unless We Win Your SSD Case!

What Types of Disability Cases Do You Handle? 

We handle a wide range of Social Security Disability claims and have helped many clients obtain the benefits they deserve after suffering an illness or injury.

The following are some of the types of disability claims for which we provide representation:

  • Circulatory System (coronary heart disease, peripheral vascular disease)
  • Intellectual Challenges (includes developmental disabilities)
  • Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders
  • Other Mental Disorders (generalized anxiety, borderline personality)
  • Endocrine Disorders (diabetes mellitus, diabetes insipidus, hyperthyroidism)
  • Injuries (fractures, contusions, burns)
  • Mood Conditions (depression, bipolar disorder)
  • Musculoskeletal System and Connective Tissue (osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia, spinal cord injury, carpal tunnel, degenerative disc disease, amputations)

If you are considering about applying for SSD benefits, or need to file an appeal, contact our offices at 276-623-0808 for a free disability evaluation.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire an SSD Lawyer?

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we accept cases on a contingent fee basis, meaning that we are only entitled to a fee if compensation is obtained.  While law firms generally charge contingency fees of 33% or more for injury cases, by law, our fees are usually limited to 25% of the back benefits owed or $6,000, whichever is less.

As a result, if you retain us at the outset for your initial filing, our fee will be significantly limited if the claim is approved because the “back pay” benefits will be limited.

Additionally, because we accept cases on a contingency fee basis, you will not need to pay us a fee at the outset (although you may be responsible for any payment required to get copies of medical records).  Further, the SSA typically pays our firm directly, lessening the burden on our disabled clients.

What Types of Disabilities Qualify for Social Security Benefits?

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines “disability” as:

“the inability to engage in substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”[1] 

The SSA maintains a book of impairments (the “Blue Book”), which details dozens of conditions that are automatically considered to be disabling.  Qualifying disabilities exist in each of the following categories:

  • Musculoskeletal System
  • Special Sense and Speech
  • Respiratory Disorders
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Digestive System
  • Genitourinary Disorders
  • Hematological Disorders
  • Skin Disorders
  • Endocrine Disorders
  • Congenital Disorders that Affect Multiple Body Systems
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Mental Disorders
  • Cancer (Malignant Neoplastic Diseases)
  • Immune System Disorders

If an impairment is not explicitly listed, the SSA will make an individual eligibility determination.  To be considered a disability, a condition must be as severe as another impairment in the Blue Book and prevent an applicant from working for a minimum of one year.

How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability?

Even though the SSA approves less than 30% of initial claims, the stronger an application, the better the chances for success both initially and, if necessary, on appeal.

In addition to having a qualifying disability, applicants must have enough work credits to be eligible for SSD.  As individuals progress through their careers, Social Security taxes are paid, which goes towards disability benefits.  The SSA tracks this information in the form of work credits.

Up to four work credits can be earned each year, but the amount of earnings needed for one credit fluctuates yearly.  For example, in 2019, $1,360 in income was required for one credit, whereas, in 2020, $1,410 must be earned.[2] For most people, a minimum of 40 total credits must be accumulated, 20 of which must be earned in the ten years preceding the date of disability.  However, it may be possible to qualify with fewer credits if disability happens at a younger age.

Calculating work credits and navigating the application or appeals process can be extremely complicated.  As a knowledgeable Salem SSD lawyer, Mark Hurt helps individuals and families throughout Virginia apply for and obtain Social Security Disability benefits from the SSA.  We can evaluate your medical condition and work history and advise you of your eligibility and options.  We can assist in preparing an initial application or file an appeal if you are denied benefits.

How Long Do I Have to Wait for an SSD Decision?

After submitting an initial application, it can take three to five months or more to receive a decision either approving or denying a claim.  If a claim is denied and an appeal(s) is needed, wait times can increase by months or more for the appeals process to take place.

It is therefore critical for applicants to do everything possible in seeking to have a claim approved at the initial filing stage.  If an appeal is required, such as if the original application does not contain the documentation necessary to support a claim, it is not as though a claimant can quickly supplement the claim with additional information.  Instead, the claim must go through the appeals process, which will significantly delay benefits.

When applicants are denied benefits, the SSA offers four levels of appeal:

  • Reconsideration
  • Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Hearing.
  • Review by the Appeals Council.
  • Federal Court Review.[3]

The higher the level of appeal needed to secure benefits, the longer a claimant must wait.

For instance, in Virginia, the current average wait time for an appeals hearing is 15 months, and it takes roughly 515 days to process a case.[4] However, if the ALJ issues a denial, benefits will be delayed for additional months or years.

If you are disabled and desperately need SSD benefits, it is vital that you reach out to our office as soon as possible.  The sooner we apply or file an appeal, the quicker you may be able to begin receiving disability compensation.

What Can I Do If I Am Denied SSD?

While over 70% of all initial claims are denied, claimants who appeal a case to an administrative law judge have a more than 50-50 chance of winning.  Thus, the most critical rule for applicants is never to give up. In most cases, the initial applications for benefits simply failed to provide the requisite information required for an approval, as typically the applicant’s medical condition will qualify the individual as being “disabled.”

If the SSA denies a claim, a request for reconsideration – the first step in the appeals process – must be filed within sixty days from the denial date.  If an appeal is not timely filed, a reconsideration will typically be denied.  Although, if the appeals deadline passes, it may still be possible to pursue an appeal if “good cause” for missing the deadline can be shown.

The SSA specifies that the following may constitute “good cause”:

  • Emergencies or Impending Circumstances (a death in the family, a car accident, etc.)
  • “Confusing or Misleading” Actions (incorrect, incomplete, or confusing information from a government agency that causes an applicant to miss the deadline)
  • Mental or Physical Limitations (chronic, severe conditions)
  • Educational or Linguistic Impairments (inability to understand appeal requirements due to mental limitations or language barriers)

If the SSA finds good cause, then an application can proceed to reconsideration.  However, if a valid reason does not exist, the SSA will dismiss the appeal, and an applicant must re-file.

Whether you would like to appeal or need to file a good cause statement, we can help.  Our experienced SSD team can evaluate your claim, help collect documentation, monitor deadlines, and file on your behalf.  If a hearing is required, firm founding attorney Mark Hurt can fight tenaciously in seeking to obtain the full and fair benefits to which you are entitled.  

Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability?

According to Social Security statistics, you are more likely to be awarded benefits if you have representation.  At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we help qualifying individuals in Virginia obtain the SSD benefits they are entitled to receive.  We can help if:

  • You need to apply for benefits
  • You applied but were denied SSD
  • You have an upcoming hearing

Attorney Mark Hurt is experienced in disability law and can evaluate your claim, explain your options, and help you file an initial application or appeal for benefits.  You will not pay a fee unless you are awarded benefits.

Contact Our Firm Today for a Free Case Evaluation and to Learn How We Can Help!


[1] Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/general-info.htm.

[2] Social Security Credits, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/credits.html.

[3] The Appeals Process, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf.

[4] Virginia ODAR Offices, Disability Judges, https://www.disabilityjudges.com/state/virginia

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