Social Security Disability Lawyers in Virginia & Tennessee
If you have a physical or mental condition that prevents you from working, getting approved for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) can be invaluable. Whether your condition is full or partial, temporary or permanent, you need financial assistance to replace the income you can no longer earn.
Applying for disability benefits can pose a challenge, as the Social Security Administration (SSA) denies many applications. These denials do not necessarily reflect how qualified the applicant is for disability, however. Often, the problem is with the application itself and the documentation provided in support of the claim.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, our experienced disability lawyers understand these challenges. We assist clients through the complex process of applying for disability benefits and fight to get your benefits approved. We can also assist you if your claim has been denied.
Common Conditions That Qualify for Disability Benefits
Disability lawyers in Virginia assist people with all types of mental and physical challenges that prevent them from working.
The SSA follows a published guideline, Disability Evaluation Under Social Security, also known as the Blue Book. The Blue Book lists many conditions, both mental and physical, that the SSA recognizes as potentially debilitating. If you have a condition that is listed in this guideline, it may make the application process more straightforward.
The primary categories listed in the SSA guidelines include:
- Musculoskeletal system problems,
- Respiratory disorders,
- Speech and sensory issues,
- Skin disorders,
- Cardiovascular system disorders,
- Immune system disorders, and
- Hematological (blood) disorders.
- The Blue Book also recognizes mental disorders, including:
- Autism spectrum disorder (ASD),
- Anxiety disorder,
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder,
- Impulse control disorder,
- Eating disorders, and
- Trauma- or stress-related disorders.
If your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you can still qualify for benefits. However, if the SSA does not already recognize your condition in its guidelines, your application may require additional documentation to obtain approval.
Understanding the Different Types of Disability Benefits
The SSA offers two classifications of disability benefits: SSDI, the most common type of disability benefit, and Supplemental Security Income, or SSI. Both programs provide financial compensation to people who cannot work due to a disability. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for one or both of these programs.
SSDI disability is for individuals who have, through past employment, paid sufficient FICA (payroll) taxes to qualify for benefits. As you pay FICA, you earn credits toward eligibility.
If you have not earned sufficient credits to qualify for SSDI, you may qualify for SSI. In some cases, an adult child or a widowed or divorced spouse of a qualified disabled worker can receive benefits.
Do I Qualify for Disability Benefits?
To get approved for SSDI or SSI benefits, you must meet the qualifications of the program and you must meet the SSA disability standards. The SSA defines someone with a disability as someone who cannot engage in gainful work activities because of a provable (medically determinable) impairment (mental or physical). Your condition must prevent you from working for at least 12 months, although you do not have to wait that long to apply. You may also qualify for disability if your condition is life-threatening, even if it might not affect your ability to work for the entire 12 months.
The best way to determine whether you may qualify for one or both types of disability benefits is to discuss your situation with a disability attorney in Virginia. An experienced attorney can explain the different types of benefits and help you determine which program is best suited to your needs and qualifications.
How Do I Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits?
The SSA has a formalized process for applying for SSDI and SSI. You must follow their process to the letter. Otherwise, you increase your risk of having your claim denied.
As with any government agency, SSA staff members process hundreds of applications every day. Often, when people handle their own disability benefit applications, they include every possible record or document available. SSA claims reviewers don’t have time to sift through piles of paperwork, test results, doctor’s notes, etc., to look for the information they need to determine whether you qualify for benefits.
However, when the SSA has the right information to make a determination about a disability, your chances of getting an approval increase substantially.
A critical component of your application is a doctor’s report known as the residual functional capacity (RFC) assessment. It is not enough to simply demonstrate that you have a specific disorder or condition. Your application must demonstrate that your condition prevents you from performing specific activities related to your job duties.
One of the primary reasons that the SSA denies claims is the applicant’s failure to demonstrate this key factor.
Having an experienced disability attorney to help with your disability benefits application can improve your chances of getting your claim approved. Attorneys can help you get the necessary documentation from medical experts and use their resources to complete your application correctly and fully. This can save you time, effort, and heartache while improving your chances of getting your benefits approved quickly.
How Long Does It Take to Get Disability Benefits?
The time it takes to get a Social Security Disability Insurance approval can vary based on several factors.
Typically, the initial review of your claim can take from three to six months. However, the volume of claims being handled by the SSA can fluctuate throughout the year. The busier they are, the longer the review process can take.
You must also observe the SSA’s mandatory waiting period of five months from the established onset date (EOD) of your disability. In other words, SSA will not approve your application unless you have been disabled for at least five months. That’s not to say you can’t submit your application before that time—you can. But your benefits won’t kick in until you hit the five-month mark.
Having an experienced attorney to handle your claim can help reduce the chance of there being a problem with your application, helping you get benefits approved as quickly as possible.
What to Do If Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied
Receiving a denial of your SSDI or SSI application can be devastating. You’re already suffering from a disability, unable to work or earn a living. Learning that your benefit checks won’t start arriving soon can feel like the end of the world.
The good news is that even if your claim has been denied, you can still get an approval through the appeals process.
The SSA denies disability benefits claims for a variety of reasons. They may deny that you have a condition that qualifies as a disability. Even if they acknowledge your mental or physical disorder, they may deny that your condition prevents you from working. More often, however, the SSA denies claims simply because the application or supporting documentation is incomplete or incorrect.
If you receive a denial of your claim, you have only 60 days to request a reconsideration. Contact an SSDI lawyer as soon as possible if you do get a denial, so you don’t risk missing this critical deadline. Making sure your application is complete and accurate is critical at this stage. If you receive another denial of your reconsideration, the next step is to appeal your claim and go before an administrative law judge. This can extend the approval process for months or even years.
How Our Social Security Disability Lawyers Can Help You
With one of our experienced Virginia disability claim attorneys on your side, you will have a powerful advocate fighting for you. We understand the process and how to move your claim through as quickly as possible. Our extensive network of doctors and medical experts also understands the SSA processes. This ensures your application has all the information necessary to get an approval.
Throughout the process, we will be there for you. We will explain your options and answer your questions. We provide regular updates so you always know what’s going on with your claim. We understand what you’re going through, and we will do everything we can to get the best possible outcome on your behalf.
Talk to our Disability Attorneys Today
Becoming disabled can be overwhelming, frightening, and confusing. Fortunately, you don’t have to face the frustration of the SSDI application process alone.
At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we understand your frustration and fear. For more than a quarter-century, we have been fighting to get our clients the benefits they deserve.
We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service, and we are selective with the cases we take so we can serve you best. We will work tirelessly to help protect your rights and get the best possible outcome for you.