No one expects that their working career will suddenly be cut short by injury or disability. Fortunately, Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSD”) was created to provide financial assistance to injured or disabled workers through the remainder of their expected working career.
If you are have become disabled, your financial future and that of your family is at stake. You need a lawyer who can help you get the money needed to pay bills and make ends meet.
Experienced Martinsville Social Security Disability lawyer Mark Hurt has a successful track record in obtaining SSD approvals through initial applications and appeals for those who are eligible for SSD benefits.
To find out if you may qualify for benefits, we invite you to call our office today to schedule a free consultation. There is no fee unless benefits are obtained, in which case our fee is typically limited to 25% of the backpay amount (there is no fee for future payments after the initial benefit award).
What Are Social Security Disability (SSD) Benefits?
The Social Security Disability Insurance program pays benefits to individuals who are “insured,” meaning the person worked long enough and paid enough Social Security taxes on wages to qualify for benefits. Those with a qualifying disability who cannot to work for at least twelve months are generally eligible to receive monthly checks to help cover living and other expenses throughout the remainder of their expected work life determined under the program (assuming that the worker remains disabled).
How Many Work Credits Do I Need to Qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD)?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) tracks disability eligibility with work credits. To qualify for benefits, 40 work credits must be earned, 20 of which must have been accumulated within ten years preceding the date of disability.
Up to four credits can be earned annually, with the amount needed for a single credit fluctuating year-to-year. For example, in 2021, individuals earn one credit for each $1,470 in wages.
In cases where an individual is injured at a younger age, it may be possible to qualify with fewer credits. The following are a few examples of such age exceptions:
- If someone becomes disabled before age 24, the person generally needs 1½ years of work credits (six credits) in the three years preceding the disability.
- If a person is injured from 24 through 30, credits are needed for half of the time between age 21 and the time of the disability.
- If an individual is 31 or older, they generally need at least twenty credits in the ten years before the disability date.
If you would like more information regarding work credits, please contact our office to schedule a complimentary consultation with Martinsville SSD lawyer Mark Hurt.
In addition, through a separate program (called “Supplemental Security Income” or “SSI”), certain individuals may qualify for disability income benefits without having a work history (such as those who are blind). We can also advise whether you may qualify for SSI once we meet with you.
What Conditions Qualify as a Disability?
To qualify for SSD benefits, a person must be unable to work for 12 consecutive months, or they must have suffered an injury or illness that is expected to result in death.
SSD does not provide “short-term” benefits for temporary injuries. As an example, if a person sustains injuries in a car crash and cannot work for 11 months, then no benefits are payable. Instead, an individual would need to seek benefits that they may have under short or long-term insurance policies with their employer (if applicable).
The Social Security Administration maintains a list of qualifying medical conditions that are significant enough to automatically qualify as disabilities (the “ Blue Book”). If an injury or illness is not in the Blue Book, examiners must determine if the injury, illness, or impairment is severe enough to prevent the person from working for at least 12 consecutive months (or if it is likely to result in death).
Can I Qualify for SSD Benefits if I Cannot Get a Job Doing the Same Work that I Previously Did?
Suppose that you were injured, lost your job, and are now somewhat recovered but you can’t find a job similar to what you previously had. Are you eligible for SSD benefits?
In general, the SSA will look at the demands of your recent past work and compare them with their assessment of your remaining ability to do basic work activities. The SSA will only look at your past work that they consider to be relevant.
If the SSA finds that you are able to perform the work that you previously performed in a job but that you cannot get a job doing that same type of work, they will not find that you are disabled. They also will not consider matters such as whether you may have to move to get a job.
If the SSA decides you cannot do the work you did before, they will consider your remaining ability to do other work considering your age, education, and work experience. They will then assess these factors with your capacity to work to determine if you can be expected to adjust to other work that exists in the national economy.
What Types of Documentation Do I Need to Provide for SSD?
Applicants may be asked to provide documentation including (but not limited to):
- A Birth Certificate
- Proof of United States Citizenship
- Military Discharge Paperwork (if service was before 1968)
- Tax Returns (demonstrating the amount of money earned last year and this year)
- Form W-2s & Paystubs
- List of Jobs (up to 5; worked in the last 15 years)
- An Adult Disability Report (containing details regarding a disability and work history)
- Medical Records
- Test Results
- Award Letters & Settlement Agreements
Can My Doctor Submit a Disability Application for Me?
No. A doctor’s office cannot submit an SSD application on a patient’s behalf. Further, a report certifying disability from a physician is not enough to automatically substantiate eligibility for benefits. However, medical records and a statement regarding the extent and facts regarding a disability may still be needed for your claim.
In general, it will be critical to support information that shows the degree that an injury or illness impacts your ability to do certain activities. For instance, if a physician states that you cannot lift objects weighing more than 5 pounds, that you experience frequent extreme headaches that require hours of immediate rest, or that you are unable to sit at a desk more than 10 minutes at a time, this information will be critical for the SSA in making a favorable award determination, as they will be able to understand the degree to which you are impaired, and types of jobs and tasks that you cannot perform.
Schedule A Free Consultation with An Experienced Martinsville, VA SSD Attorney.
The disability benefits application process can be challenging, and over 65% of initial applications are denied, often because of minor clerical or documentation errors. Thus, it is typically not advisable to tackle the application process alone, as it could significantly delay benefits by months or even years if a denial is issued.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we can help prepare and apply for social security disability benefits on your behalf, and can help you avoid the common application mistakes that often lead to unfavorable award determinations. Alternatively, if you already have received a denial, we can appeal and zealously advocate for full benefits.
Call today to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal rights for pursuing compensation. There is no fee for our services unless you obtain benefits, and our fee is typically capped at 25% of the backpay amount (there is no fee for future payments after the initial disability award).