Approximately 51.3 million United States workers do not have adequate disability insurance,[1] and only 48% of adults have the financial resources to support themselves and their families for more than three months.[2] As a result, when a debilitating work injury occurs, or when a major illness or medical event occurs, many households are left scrambling to find the means to cover basic necessities and care.  In fact, almost half of American adults indicate that they would have to rely on a loan or sell possessions to pay for an unexpected $400 bill;[3] this is troublesome, as many disabled workers will incur thousands, or even millions, of dollars in healthcare bills over their lifetimes.

For those Virginians who are disabled and unable to work, the federal government offers financial support through two programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) and Supplemental Security Income (“SSI”).  Each year these programs provide disability benefits for almost 10 million people, an overwhelming majority of whom are disabled workers.[4] While almost $12 billion in benefits is paid out monthly, many eligible disabled workers are denied compensation based on technicalities such as documentation or application issues.

As an experienced Tazewell Social Security disability lawyer, Mark Hurt has helped numerous disabled Virginians navigate the application and appeals process to overcome these types of hurdles.  He understands the complexities of the SSDI and SSI system and works vigorously to help disabled clients secure benefits as quickly as possible.

Benefits for People with Disabilities

86% of Social Security Disability Insurance (“SSDI”) beneficiaries are disabled workers, many of whom have struggled to support themselves and their families after debilitating employment injuries.[5] For the over ten million people who are disabled and unable to work for a minimum of twelve months, the Social Security administration (“SSA”) provides financial compensation to help cover basic familial necessities and care.[6] On average, social security benefit payments are approximately $1,233.70 per month.[7] For those with long-term physical or mental disabilities, SSDI or SSI benefits typically continue until normal retirement age (as long as the disabling condition persists).

Social Security Disability Insurance

SSDI benefits are available to disabled individuals who have worked a minimum number of hours over a specified amount of time.  A portion of taxes from a worker’s paycheck is allocated to the SSDI program; if a worker becomes disabled, benefits are drawn from these funds to help compensate for some of their lost wages.[8]

Supplemental Security Income

Many disabled Virginians have not worked enough to surpass the SSDI threshold; thus, they do not qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance payments.  For non-qualifying individuals with low incomes, the federal government offers an alternative, SSI benefits.  SSI benefit qualifications typically have asset limitation tests; thus those with more significant assets likely won’t qualify for SSI benefits in many cases.

Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits

To qualify for SSDI, you must exceed a certain work threshold requirements calculated in accordance with a system of earned credits.  These credits are essentially points earned by paying Social Security taxes throughout your career.  Each year, the SSA determines the amount of wages or self-employment income necessary to qualify for one credit.   For example, in 2018, individuals earned one credit for every $1,320 of taxable income, up to a maximum of four credits.

The amount of credits needed to qualify for SSDI will vary depending on your age at the time of disability; generally, you will qualify if you have earned a minimum of forty credits, and twenty of these credits were earned in the ten years preceding the disability.  If you are disabled at a younger age, the work hour requirement is lessened accordingly.

Due to the variability of the eligibility requirements, it can be difficult to determine if the minimum SSDI thresholds have been met.  Tazewell Social Security disability lawyer Mark Hurt helps clients assess their work credits to determine eligibility for SSDI benefits and also to determine eligibility for SSI benefits, and to file claims in seeking to quickly secure such benefits.

Overcoming a Social Security Disability Denial

For many of the 215,000 Virginia residents who are suffering from disabilities, SSDI benefits may be the only source of income after sustaining a debilitating injury or medically-disabling event.[9] It’s important to understand, however, that approximately 70% of all social security benefit claims are initially denied, even though in most of these claims the individuals will medically qualify for social security benefits, and will also have met the working “credits” requirements.

As experienced social security disability lawyers, we understand the intricacies of the application process, as well as common reasons why claims are often denied.  With this knowledge, we assist clients with gathering the appropriate medical and nonmedical documentation, properly preparing applications, and submitting claims so that they can ideally avoid unnecessary denials and begin collecting benefits as soon as possible.

Virginia attorney Mark Hurt has represented those injured for more than three decades of legal practice, and he has significant experience in helping those who are disabled in obtaining the governmental benefits to which they are due.  In seeking social security benefits, Mark is experienced in knowing the intricacies of preparing claims to avoid the common issues for which many claims are initially rejected, and he has helped numerous clients obtain approvals after initially receiving a denial.  If you have been denied disability benefits, we can expeditiously evaluate your claim and, when appropriate, help you appeal in seeking a favorable outcome.

Working While Collecting SSDI and SSI Benefits

SSDI benefits are typically not available if you are capable of working; however, there is an exception for those who do not engage in substantial gainful activity (“SGA”).  A person earning more than a certain monthly amount (this number is stipulated annually by the SSA) is ordinarily considered to be engaged in SGA.   If you earn income, but it falls below this specified amount, you may still be eligible for disability benefits.  This number varies year-by-year and based upon whether you are blind.  In 2019, the SGA was set at $1,220 for non-blind individuals and $2,040 for blind individuals.[10]

The Cost to Hire a Tazewell, VA Social Security Disability Lawyer

We understand the devastating financial challenges that arise when someone becomes disabled because of an injury, illness, or other medical event.  We represent clients in social security disability matters on what is known as a contingency fee basis (no fee for our representation unless compensation is awarded), and we do not collect a fee for future payments that are not yet due.  If you are awarded benefits, our fee is normally equal to 25% of the backpay amount awarded, and our attorneys’ fees are usually capped at $6,000 by the SSA, with a few exceptions.

Our fee is typically paid directly by the SSA to our firm. In addition to our fee, there are often some costs that are incurred, such as costs that may be charged by medical facilities to copy medical records – these costs are the responsibility of clients (normally these costs are not overly-burdensome).  Prior to commencing our representation of clients in social security matters, we will provide a fee agreement that explains fees and costs, and we can review these items with you.

Call Today to Schedule A Free Consultation

At the Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, we have substantial experience helping Virginians handle their Social Security disability claims, and would look forward to meeting with you for a free consultation to learn about your matter, and explain how we can help.


[1] The Crisis of Disability Coverage in America, Council for Disability Awareness, http://disabilitycanhappen.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/The-CDA-RealityCheckup-Media-Kit.pdf.

[2] Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2016, The Federal Reserve (May 2017), https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2016-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201705.pdf.

[3] Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2016, The Federal Reserve (May 2017), https://www.federalreserve.gov/publications/files/2016-report-economic-well-being-us-households-201705.pdf.

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

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

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

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

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

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

[10] SGA for the blind does not apply to SSI benefits, while SGA for the non-blind disabled applies to both Social Security and SSI benefits.