Virginia Social Security Disability Lawyer
Are you suffering from a medical condition that prevents you from working? Over 10,000,000 people in the US are incapable of making a living due to a disabling impairment and are reliant on Social Security disability assistance, many of whom are Virginia residents.
If you are no longer able to work because of an injury, illness, or medical condition, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income benefits. Unfortunately, the rules and regulations surrounding the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) disability system are complicated, and individuals often underestimate the number of requirements and paperwork involved. This is where an experienced Virginia Social Security disability attorney can help.
At the Law Office of Mark T. Hurt, we can help navigate the complex process of obtaining disability benefits and take this burden off your shoulders. Call our offices to schedule a free consultation to get started. The sooner you call, the sooner you may be able to begin collecting much-needed benefits.
What Types of Disability Benefits Does the Government Offer?
The SSA oversees two disability programs that provide monthly benefits for disabled individuals who are no longer able to work: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). While both offer government assistance to the disabled, they are separate programs with different eligibility requirements.
Am I Eligible for SSDI Benefits?
To be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a minimum number of work credits must be earned. Up to four work credits are received every year that an individual works and pays taxes on their income.
The number of work credits needed to qualify for benefits depends upon an applicant’s age at the time of disability. Typically, an applicant needs 40 credits, 20 of which must be earned in the ten years preceding the condition. However, in the case of young disabled workers without extensive work histories, fewer credits are needed to qualify.
In addition to satisfying the work credit requirement, an applicant must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) definition of a disability. A condition must have the following characteristics to be considered disabling:
- Severe. The extent of the condition interferes with the ability to perform basic work-related tasks.
- Long-Term. The condition lasts or is expected to last for at least one year.
- Total Disability. An applicant is unable to perform “substantial gainful activity” (SGA). If an individual earns less than $1,260 per month, the SSA will find that they are unable to perform SGA.
Calculating SSDI eligibility can be difficult; as a Virginia social security disability law firm we can help you in calculating eligibility and potential benefits. We can assess your claim, explain your options, and help you secure all benefits to which you are entitled.
How Can I Qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI)?
SSI provides money to meet basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter to the aged, blind, and disabled who have little or no income. There is no work credit requirement, but income and asset limits apply. To be eligible, an application must:
- Have a limited income (under $735 per month for individuals; $1,103 per month for couples); and
- Minimal assets ($2,000 for an individual; $3,000 for a couple).
How Long Does It Take to Receive Social Security Disability Benefits?
The SSA utilizes a five-step process for evaluating initial claim applications, and this generally takes 3 – 5 months to complete, assuming no issues arise that cause delays. For both SSDI and SSI, there are exceptions to this process that can expedite approval:
- Work status. Your claim can be rejected if you are working and earning more than $1,260 per month. If you are earning less than the specified monthly amount or not working at all, the SSA will move to the next step.
- The severity of your condition. For a disability to be severe, it must significantly impair the ability to perform basic work activities (such as standing, walking, lifting, sitting, etc.) for a minimum of 12 months. An individual determination by the Disability Determination Services (DDS) may be needed if the severity of the condition is unclear.
- If your impairment is in the Blue Book of Impairments. The SSA publishes a list of disabling conditions that automatically meet the criteria for being considered a disability. If your impairment is listed in the book, your approval can move more expeditiously, minimizing the time it will take for approval.
- If your disability is not in the Blue Book. If the SSA does not automatically find that your condition is disabling, the DDS must establish whether your impairment prevents you from performing any of your past work.
- Are you capable of performing other work? Even if you cannot complete your previous work, you may be ineligible for benefits if you can perform other work. DDS considers age, education, past work experience, and specialized skills when determining whether an applicant is qualified to perform other jobs.
What Are My Chances of Being Approved for Social Security Disability?
Statistically, nearly 70% of all initial Social Security disability applications are denied. One of the reasons that this rate is so high is because those who file for claims without the assistance of an experienced social security disability attorney often make critical mistakes in not complying with all application requirements; particularly those that pertain to properly documenting disability.
Specifically, many applicants wrongly assume that because they have a condition that qualifies for benefits, the SSA will simply recognize this fact and approve their claim. This is not the case. The SSA operates under very strict guidelines that require rejection of an application unless all requirements are specifically met – even if it is clear that an applicant otherwise qualifies due to the nature of the disability.
The best option for most applicants will be to increase their chances of receiving a favorable determination at the outset by hiring an attorney to assist with the filing process from start-to-finish. This is particularly the case since if an application is initially denied, many more months will go by without the critical money that would be needed while a claim goes through the appeals process. As an experienced SSDI and SSI law firm, we can help avoid some of the common pitfalls that result in denials, potentially saving you months, or even years, in getting approved for benefits.
What Can I Do If My SSDI or SSI Claim is Denied?
The fact that a disability claim was denied does not mean that an individual is not disabled or that they are ineligible for benefits. Most cases are rejected for minor application errors or because there was not enough medical evidence provided to prove the case. When this occurs, claimants should never resign themselves to giving up on a disability claim and forgo their right to benefits. Instead, when an application is denied, the best course of action is usually to appeal within 60 days of receipt of the denial notification. The sooner the appeal is filed, the faster the SSA will have a claim reconsidered or schedule a hearing with an SSA administrative law judge.
If your Social Security disability claim has been denied, you have a right to appoint an authorized representative to help you, and the SSA will work with your representative as it would work with you. You can select a lawyer, friend, or someone else, but it is wise to hire an attorney, as legal counsel typically has the best chances of increasing the likelihood of approval.
Whether you hire our firm or a non-lawyer representative, the amount of compensation will be the same; the SSA sets fees at 25% of your back benefits up to $6,000 (although there are some situations in which this amount may be different). Further, we work on “contingency,” meaning that you will only pay a fee if benefits are secured.
As a result, hiring our firm at the outset of your case will be the least expensive option, since there will be less “back pay” involved. When a case is approved, in most situations the SSA will pay our fee directly to our firm, so you likely will not even need to pay us directly. After an award is granted and we are paid based upon the “back pay” that is due, you will be entitled to keep 100% of all future payments that become due.
How Do I Know If I Am Eligible for SSDI or SSI Benefits?
Once we meet with you and learn about your circumstances, we can we can evaluate your claim and explain whether you may be entitled SSDI and/or SSI benefits. We will also help with the application process, and appeal your case if you are denied benefits (we can also appeal your case if you previously submitted your application on your own). Call our offices today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation to learn how we can help you secure the full benefits you deserve.
 Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Insurance Program, 2016, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/policy/docs/statcomps/di_asr/2016/sect01.html.
 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Eligibility Requirements, Social Security Administration, https://www.ssa.gov/ssi/text-eligibility-ussi.htm.
 This amount is recalculated yearly and is subject to change.
“Mark is great an his staff is second to none. They always answer questions an call you back, I especially want to thank Carol she is the best”