Our Baltimore Disability Lawyer Assists with Social Security Eligibility and Applications
Although it is designed to be accessible to all, the disability claim process for Social Security benefits can be complicated and frustrating for people who desperately need an income. Emmett B. Irwin can help you navigate the process so that you can get the benefits you need and get some stability in your life.
Determining Your Eligibility for Social Security Benefits
You may be eligible for different benefits depending on your situation. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) both provide benefits to people with disabilities but have different requirements:
- To qualify for SSI, you must be 65 or older OR blind OR disabled and have limited or no income or other resources
- To qualify for SSDI, you must be disabled AND have a sufficient work history as determined by “work credits”
The distinction between these two benefits is confusing to many people. You may qualify for one of these benefits but not the other. If you are disabled and have limited income, you may be able to qualify for both SSI and SSDI. An experienced Baltimore disability lawyer can help you determine which benefits you are qualified to receive.
Do Members of Your Family Qualify for Social Security Benefits?
If you qualify and your claim is approved, other members of your family may also be eligible:
- Your adult disabled child if they are unmarried and their disability began before age 22.
- Your child under the age of 18, including an adopted child, and possibly a stepchild or grandchild.
- A child between the age of 18 and 19 if they are unmarried and a full-time student.
- Your spouse who is 62 or older
- Your spouse who is caring for your child who is disabled or under 16.
These additional benefits can make a significant difference when it comes to paying your day-to-day bills.
You May Still Qualify for Social Security Benefits Even if You’re Still Working
Many people think that they do not qualify for disability benefits because they are still working. This is not the case, but it depends on your monthly income, and the threshold can change from year to year. For 2020, you generally will not be eligible for disability benefits if you make more than $1,260.00 per month. If you have questions about whether you qualify, it is advised to speak with a Baltimore disability attorney to get answers that apply to your specific situation.
The SSA’s Definition of Disability
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has strict requirements that you must meet to be considered disabled and therefore eligible for disability benefits. The SSA will consider you disabled if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You cannot do the work you did before
- You cannot adjust to other work
- Your disability is expected to last at least 12 months
There are no benefits available for partial or short-term disability, but you can get a “closed period” of full disability benefits if you are out of work for more than 12 months then go back to work
While these criteria sound straightforward, it’s important to understand that the SSA determines whether or not you are disabled. You will need to carefully document your disability to support your claim – this is where a Baltimore Social Security lawyer can help.
Filing Your Claim for Benefits
There are four ways that you can file your disability claim:
- In person at your local social security office
- By phone (1-800-772-1212 or TTY at 1-800-325-0778 if you are deaf or hard of hearing)
- By Mail
For many people who are disabled, scheduling an appointment with the local social security office can be a significant challenge. As a result, filing online or by phone are great options. However, there is one advantage to filing in-person: you will be granted protective filing status from the date you contact the office to schedule your appointment, which means you will be entitled to disability benefits and back pay from that date.
Filing online is probably the most common option for people with a computer and access to the internet, especially when leaving home is difficult. Filing online allows you to start your claim right away. You can also start the application, and save it to finish later if you find you need to gather information. You can even file your application if you are currently outside of the United States.
What Happens After You File Your Social Security Claim
Once your claim is submitted, it will be reviewed by the agency to determine whether or not you qualify for benefits. Eventually, they will send you a Notice of Initial Determination that will inform you of their decision. If your claim is approved, the process is over and you will begin receiving benefits.
Unfortunately, most claims are denied, and if this is the case you will work with a Baltimore disability attorney to facilitate the next steps. The Notice of Initial Determination will explain the basis for their decision. The Notice of Initial Determination is a very important document (even if your claim was approved) and you should be sure to keep it for your records.
If your claim was denied, the next step is to file a Request for Reconsideration. You must make your request within 60 days of receipt of your Notice of Initial Determination. Unfortunately, most reconsiderations are also denied, and you must then request a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.
The appeal process following the initial denial can quickly get very complicated. As a result, we strongly encourage you to at least speak with a Baltimore disability lawyer to understand your options.
Medical Records Required for Social Security Claims
Many claims are denied because the applicant failed to provide sufficient medical documentation of their disability. You should inform your doctor of your plans to file for disability. This should help them thoroughly document your file to expressly identify your disability and how it impacts your ability to work. It also prepares them to provide your medical records to the SSA upon request. A thorough, well-documented medical opinion from your treating physician can make a big difference in how your claim is handled. Some doctors are more familiar with the disability process than others. One of the ways that a Baltimore disability lawyer can help is to make sure your medical records are clear and complete when they are submitted with your claim.
You may also need to visit a specialist depending on your medical condition. Finally, many claims are denied because the applicant didn’t follow their prescribed treatment. As a result, you should make sure to follow your doctor’s orders as closely as possible.
Contact Attorney Emmett B. Irwin to Learn More
If you’re disabled and overwhelmed with the disability claim process, we can help you get the benefits you need. From filing the initial application to handling an appeal, we have helped thousands of clients get through this difficult time. To discuss your case and learn more about how we can help, contact us online to schedule a free consultation. We work with clients throughout Maryland and surrounding states.