Social Security Disability Requirements Johnson City

Social Security Disability Lawyer Johnson City TNThe Social Security Disability (SSD) application process can be challenging and complex, especially for those who have never been through it before.  It is so difficult to navigate that only 30% of initial applications are approved, even when claimants have medically qualifying disabilities.

To help individuals understand the process, we compiled a list of the most common SSD questions we encounter.  If you are considering applying for benefits, we encourage you to read through the following FAQs.  Please reach out to us if you have any questions or would like to pursue SSD compensation.

At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have over three decades of legal experience and have helped hundreds of injured clients successfully the obtain benefits and compensation they deserve.  When you hire experienced Johnson City SSD attorney Mark Hurt, your chances of securing benefits increase substantially, and you needn’t worry about coming out of pocket for any upfront fees.  We only collect a fee if we are successful in securing benefits for you.  Call our office today to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help you file an initial application or appeal a denial!

What Does the Social Security Administration Consider a Disability?

Under the Social Security Act, a disability is defined as the “inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”[1]

A medically determinable physical or mental impairment can be a condition that results from anatomical, psychological, or physiological issues that can be demonstrated using clinical or laboratory testing.  The medical evidence must prove that a physical or mental impairment exists; a statement regarding symptoms is not enough to substantiate a claim.[2]

Are There Different Types of SSD Benefits?

Yes.  There are several types of disability benefits.

  • Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) is the most common type of benefit. It is awarded to disabled individuals who paid taxes into the Social Security system and worked at least five of the last ten years (in most cases).
  • Disability widow’s or widower’s benefits are paid to individuals who are at least 50 years of age and become disabled within seven years of their spouse’s death.[3] The deceased spouse must have worked a certain amount of time and paid enough into the system to be insured.
  • Disabled adult child benefits support beneficiaries of persons who are deceased or who draw SSD benefits. To qualify, a child must become disabled before the age of 22.[4]

If you are unsure if you qualify for one of these programs, we would be happy to discuss the facts of your situation and assist in making an eligibility determination.

How Much Does a SSD Lawyer Charge?

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we understand the financial strain that can occur after becoming disabled.  We represent disabled social security applicant clients on a contingency fee basis.  This means we only receive a fee for our time and efforts if we are successful in obtaining benefits. You may be responsible for minor expenses, such as the cost to obtain medical records.

If successful, our fee is typically 25% of the backpay amount (up to a maximum of $6,000, in most cases).  There is no fee for our firm for future payments that are not yet due.  As a result, you will keep 100% of all future payments.

Our fee is usually paid directly by the SSA to our firm. 

If My Claim is Denied for a Small Error, Can I Simply Correct the Error?

In most cases, no.  Instead you must go through the appeals process, which typically will take months, and sometimes longer.  For this reason, it is highly recommended that disabled applicants seek the assistance of an experienced social security disability lawyer, as statistically claims filed by lawyers are approved at the initial application stage at a rate of three times that of claims filed without the assistance of a lawyer.

Because claims usually cannot be easily corrected once a claim denial has been received, most applicants are thus placed in a situation of having to wait additional months with no income.  Further, because attorneys are paid based upon the amount of the backpay, the potential attorneys’ fees typically will be higher when an appeal is necessary.  

How Long Does It Take to Start Receiving SSD Benefits?

Social Security disability benefits will not begin until the sixth full month of disability.  The waiting period begins with the first full month after the date the SSA determines a disability occurred.[5]  Even though benefits will not begin for several months, individuals can file for SSD on the very same day they become disabled.

If benefits are initially denied, it can take many additional months, or even years, to appeal the determination.  Therefore, it is an applicant’s best interest to apply soon after becoming disabled to ensure compensation is received as expeditiously as possible.

Do I Have to Use All of My Money Before I Apply for SSD?

No.  If you worked recently and paid enough into the SSD program, it does not matter how much money you have.  There is no asset limit to qualify for SSD; thus, individuals should not hesitate to apply.

How Does the SSA Determine If I Am Disabled?

After an application is filed, a disability examiner at the SSA reviews the forms and supporting documentation.  The examiner consults with a doctor and makes an initial determination regarding benefit eligibility.  If a claim is denied, an applicant has sixty days to request a reconsideration.  If requested, a different examiner will review the application and render an independent eligibility determination.

What Should I Do If I Am Denied Disability Benefits in Tennessee?

It is vital to not be discouraged if your initial application is denied, as most claims are denied at this level, sometimes for minor application omissions or errors that can be addressed in an appeal.

The SSA offers the following four appeal levels:

  • Reconsideration;
  • Administrative Law Judge Hearing;
  • Review by the Appeals Council; and
  • Federal Court review.[6]

If a denial letter is received, an applicant has sixty days to appeal the determination at each of these four levels (claimants must appeal at each level before moving to a subsequent option).  It can take months to over a year to complete each step; therefore, it is vital for an applicant to act as quickly as possible.

Appealing a denial is a complex process, leaving many claimants feeling overwhelmed by the paperwork and documentation requirements.  At The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we know the social security disability claims and appeals process, and can help compile the necessary paperwork and medical documentation needed to submit a timely appeal.

Can My Age Effect Whether I Will Get Disability Benefits?

The short answer is yes.  The SSA is required by the Social Security Act to consider age.  As people get older, the body deteriorates, often leading to disabling conditions.  For example, a leg injury might cause a 20-year-old to switch from a standing to a sitting job position, but the same injury might result in a permanent disability of an individual who is 60 years old and could not adjust to a different type of work.

Additionally, social security disability benefits are only meant to provide benefits to those who cannot work, but who have not yet reached the applicable retirement age (currently age 66 and rising to age 67; this age depends upon when a potential applicant was born).  At that time, disability benefits cease, and retirement benefits kick in.

If I Win My Appeal, Is There Any Way to Get Back Lost Benefits?

If a denial is overturned in an appeals, a claimant is eligible to receive back pay for benefits they would have received had their application initially been approved when filed.  Typically, a lump sum payment will be awarded for all past-due amounts as part of the claims approval.  This is another reason that applicants should file a claim soon after becoming disabled.

Do I Have to Hire a Lawyer to Handle My SSD Claim?

Claimants can submit disability applications without outside assistance; however, individuals represented by an experienced attorney are statistically three times more likely to have their claim denied at the initial application stage.

As an experienced Johnson City social security disability lawyer, Mark Hurt has been through the disability application and appeals process many times, meaning he knows what examiners are looking for and is aware of common pitfalls that result in denials.  As such, he helps clients avoid mistakes that could result in an unfavorable determination.  If you would like to improve your chances of securing benefits, reach out to our office to schedule a free consultation.

Can the SSA Cut Off My Disability Benefits?

The SSA should not terminate disability benefits for an individual unless his or her medical condition improves.  In most cases for those who are permanently disabled, benefits should continue until a person reaches retirement age and begins collecting traditional Social Security retirement benefits.

If you believe the SSA is trying to terminate your disability benefits wrongfully, it is vital to appeal immediately.  If you submit paperwork within ten days, you can request for benefits to continue while an appeal is ongoing.

Contact our offices at 276-623-0808 to schedule a free consultation to learn how we can help with your SSD claim.


[1] 20 CFR § 404.1505

[2] Medical/Professional Relations, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/professionals/bluebook/general-info.htm

[3] If You Are The Survivor, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/survivors/ifyou.html.

[4] Disability Benefits | How You Qualify, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/disability/qualify.html.

[5] Disability Determination Process, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/disability/disability.html.

[6] The Appeals Process, SSA, https://www.ssa.gov/pubs/EN-05-10041.pdf.