SSI Social Security Disability LawyerSouthwest Virginia Social Security Disability Lawyer for Claim Filing and Benefit Denial / Appeals

Astoundingly, 23.6% of adults in Virginia have a disability.[1] If you or a loved one is living with a serious mental or physical disability and is unable to work, you may qualify for disability benefits through the Social Security Administration (“SSA”).

Each year, hundreds of thousands of Southwest Virginians are eligible to collect disability benefits through two government programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).[2] Cumulatively, SSDI and SSI provide billions of dollars in disability benefits each year.[3] However, the process to become one of the recipients of these benefits can be extremely difficult, as the majority of initial applications are denied, despite the applicant satisfying the medical requirements.

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have successfully represented SSDI and SSI clients throughout Southwest Virginia for years.  As an experienced Southwest and Abingdon, Virginia Social Security Disability lawyer, Mark Hurt can utilize his experience to help you file an application or appeal for the benefits you and your family deserve.

Available SSDI and SSI Disability Benefits

Many individuals are eligible to collect SSDI or SSI benefits; and, in some cases, they may be eligible to receive both concurrently.[4] To qualify for disability benefits, an adult individual must prove they have a mental, emotional or physical impairment which:

  • Stops them from engaging in Substantial Gainful Activity (“SGA”); and
  • Has lasted continuously for a minimum of one year or can be expected to result in death.[5]

A person earning more than the SSA-stipulated monthly amount is typically considered to be engaged in SGA.  For 2020, the monthly SGA for blind individuals is $2,110; for those who are not blind, the SGA is $1,260 per month.[6] To incentivize attempts to return to work, the SSA permits disabled beneficiaries to collect benefits while engaging in work, as long as their monthly income is below the SGA limits.

While it is possible to engage in limited work, benefits may be compromised if you earn too much income.  Thus it is advisable to consult with a skilled disability lawyer in order to understand your entitlement to benefits. As a Southwest Virginia and Hillsville Social Security Disability lawyer, attorney Mark Hurt understands how work affects SSDI eligibility and can provide advice on how you may be able to earn limited income (if you are able to do so) under  the SGA thresholds and still receive benefits.

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI is a federal program that supports individuals who are disabled and have a qualifying work history.[7] As those who are workers know well, social security is deducted from each paycheck, and this amount is contributed to the social security program. If a worker contributes enough payroll taxes into the Social Security fund (throughout their career), they will be eligible to collect benefits.

How is Social Security Compensation Paid?

Benefit compensation is paid monthly for the duration of the disability, and may increase as the cost of living increases.  In 2019, the average disability benefit is $1,233.70 per month;[8] however, for those who contribute longer to the SSDI program, benefits can increase up to $2,861.[9]

In addition to paying benefits to a disabled worker, the spouse and children of SSDI recipients may also be eligible to collect a partial benefit.  Additionally, survivors’ benefits can be awarded, if a loved one dies while collecting SSDI; a spouse, parent or child may be eligible to collect benefits based on the deceased individual’s work record.  When you meet with our firm, we can advise you as to your eligibility, and that of your family members, to collect additional social security benefits.

Supplemental Security Income – What if I Have Not Worked Long Enough?

For low-income individuals who have not fulfilled the SSDI work requirements, SSI may be available in place of normal social security compensation.  If you are aged, blind, or disabled, you may qualify if your assets are less than $2,000, and you have a limited income.[10] In addition, in most states a person collecting SSI benefits will also automatically qualify for Medicaid.

Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits

More than half of all those applying for SSDI benefits receive an initial rejection.  As a Southwest Virginia Social Security Disability lawyer serving Roanoke and the surrounding communities, through our experience, familiarity with the common reasons for claim rejection, and understanding of precisely what it usually required in order to receive benefits, we can help to increase your chances of successfully being awarded the benefits you are entitled to at the outset.  And, because we are only entitled to a fee of 25% of the “backpay” (not future benefits), our fee tends to be relatively minimal when we assist applicants who are seeking benefits shortly after they have become disabled.[11]

Prior to filing a claim, a SSA Disability Report must be completed, and the following supporting documents must be compiled:

  • Personal Identification (birth certificate, proof of U.S. citizenship, military discharge paperwork (if prior to 1968), etc.);
  • Benefit award letters and settlement agreements (including temporary or permanent workman’s compensation)
  • Work History (tax returns, W-2s, paystubs, etc.)

A representative from the SSA will ask you a series of questions regarding you, your family, your disability, your work history, and general medical treatments and care.  It is important to be candid about your disability and to ensure that you provide details regarding any secondary medical issues stemming from your impairment.

Appealing a Denial of SSDI Benefits

If your SSDI or SSI claim has been denied, it is natural to feel dejected and hopeless, but it is important to understand that you may still have options. 70% of all initial disability claims are denied, even when a person has a qualifying disability.[12] Benefits are often rejected for the following reasons:

  • Disability is not severe enough or is not expected to last at least one year
  • The disabled individual can perform their usual work or another type of work
  • Adequate medical documentation is not provided
  • Physician orders are not followed
  • The impairment is caused by drug or alcohol consumption
  • Minor application errors

If an SSDI claim is wrongly denied, the decision can be appealed at four levels: (1) Reconsideration; (2) Court Hearing; (3) Appeals Council Review; and (4) Federal Lawsuit.

Reconsideration

The first step in the appeals process is filing for a reconsideration.  During a reconsideration, a qualified SSA representative, not involved in the original determination, will review all evidence that has been submitted and will make an independent determination regarding your eligibility.

Court Hearing

If the reconsideration is unsuccessful, you will have sixty days to file for an administrative hearing before a judge.  During the hearing, you can present evidence, call witnesses (including vocational and medical experts), and have attorney representation.  The Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) will render a verdict regarding your claim, after reviewing all evidence.

Appeals Council Request for Review

If your claim is denied by the ALJ, an Appeals Council Request for Review can be submitted.  The Appeals Council (“AC”) in the Office of Analytics, Review, and Oversight (“OARO”) will evaluate the ALJ’s determination and either make its own decisions or ask the ALJ to rereview the application.[13]

Federal Lawsuit

If your claim remains denied after exhausting all levels of appeal, you can file a lawsuit in a federal district court.  Bringing a lawsuit for SSDI or SSI benefits can be complicated.  As a skilled Wytheville Social Security Disability lawyer with decades of litigation experience, Mark Hurt can help you navigate the complexities of a SSDI lawsuit to help secure benefits as soon as possible.

Because most applications are denied and the appeals process can be lengthy, it is important to submit a claim expeditiously.  SSDI benefits do not begin until you have been disabled for six months, and the SSA does not begin calculating this waiting period until the month after they determine the disability arose.[14] This six month period coupled with likely appeals can result in the process dragging on for months – the faster you submit your claim, the sooner you may be able to collect.

Hire an Experienced Southwest Virginia Social Security Disability Lawyer

The likelihood of being denied benefits is extremely high; but, having a knowledgeable Southwest Virginia Social Security Disability lawyer represent you may greatly increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome from the initial claim filing.

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we believe that disabled clients should be able to secure competent legal representation, even if they do not have the financial means to do so upfront.  If you hire our firm, you needn’t be concerned with how you are going to pay for our services – we only charge a fee, if we secure benefits on your behalf.

We represent our disabled clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that we only collect a 25% fee of the backpay amount if we are successful in having benefits awarded.[15] This fee is typically capped at $6,000 by the SSA, and payments are generally issued directly to our firm by the SSA.

To ensure that our clients fully understand the expenses and costs associated with our representation, we will provide a detailed fee agreement prior to commencing representation and will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.

Call to Schedule a Free, No-Risk SSD Consultation with Our Firm!

For over three decades, Mark Hurt has been representing Southwest Virginians throughout Abingdon, Hillsville, Roanoke, Wytheville and the surrounding communities.  At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have successfully secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in SSDI and SSI compensation for our clients.  Call our offices today to schedule a free consultation to learn more about how we serve and represent clients in Social Security claim submissions and appeals.

For additional Social Security Disability information, feel free to see the information on the following links:


[1] Disability and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/disabilityandhealth/impacts/virginia.html.

[2] Annual Statistical Report on The Social Security Disability Insurance Program, Social Security Administration (2018), https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/ssi_asr/2018/ssi_asr18.pdf. (4.3% of the approximate 5 million Virginia residents collect SSDI).

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

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

[5] Benefits Planner: Disability |How You Qualify, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.

[5] Benefits Planner: Disability |How You Qualify, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/planners/disability/qualify.html.

[6] Substantial Gainful Activity, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/oact/cola/sga.html.

[7] Work history is tracked using a system of credits that are earned based on taxable income.  To qualify for SSDI, an individual typically will need a minimum of forty lifetime credits, twenty of which were earned in the ten years prior to the disability.

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

[9] Disability Benefits, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10029.pdf.

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

[11] There are also other limits on the fees to which a law firm may receive in representing those who are disabled.  We will explain these limits and other fee and cost matters at the outset of our representation in our engagement letter.

[12] Outcomes of Applications for Disability Benefits, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2018/sect04.pdf.

[13] Hearings and Appeals, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/appeals/DataSets/07_AC_Requests_For_Review.html.

[14] Disability Determination Process, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability.html.

[15] Clients are personally responsible for making payments for ancillary expenses such as the costs to obtain medical records.