When you have a serious disability that limits your ability to work, getting the right resources in place is crucial. Government programs such as Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) can be a major support for someone in this situation. However, to qualify for benefits, you may require the help of an experienced disability lawyer. If you need SSD, you may be wondering: Why do I need a disability lawyer?
Simply put, getting SSD benefits usually involves more than just completing an application. Having a disability lawyer can be the difference between getting benefits and not having what you need for your support.
What are SSD Benefits?
The federal government has two primary disability benefits programs:
- Social Security Income (SSI)—is an income-sensitive program that allows qualifying recipients to be paid a small monthly benefit. SSI is available to those who have a qualifying disability.
- Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD)—a program that is available to those who:
- Have a qualifying disability, and
- Have worked and are “insured,” meaning that they have worked the required amount of time and paid Social Security taxes on their income.
To qualify for SSD, you must:
- Have an adequate work history (usually 5-10 years) wherein you paid Social Security taxes
- Have a disability that:
- Prevents you from working or adjusting to other work, and
- Has lasted for 12 months, will last for 12 months, or
- Is expected to end in death.
You Need a Disability Lawyer to Help Guide You Through the SSD Process
You may think that you are done with the SSD process after submitting your disability benefits application. However, this step is only the beginning.
Once you have applied, the SSA Disability Determination Service (DDS) will complete a 5-step evaluation to determine disability. When evidence is unavailable or insufficient to make a determination, the DDS may arrange for you to attend a consultative examination (C.E.) to obtain additional evidence. Even then, the process may be far from over.
Establishing your SSD eligibility can be complicated. However, having a disability lawyer can help. Your disability lawyer can assist you with:
- Gathering important and necessary information,
- Preparing crucial documents and evidence, and
- Making sure everything is complete and properly submitted.
You Need a Disability Lawyer to Help With Your Appeal
Most Social Security Disability applications are denied. The reason? The program’s complicated rules and requirements. When an SSD application is denied, the applicant will either:
- Be denied benefits, or
- Go through the program’s appeal process.
If your application is denied, you will have 60 days to appeal the decision. This is called the reconsideration phase. You can ask for a medical reconsideration or a non-medical reconsideration of your application. Another DDS examiner will review your application and information during this stage.
If your application is denied, you, through your disability lawyer, can then request a disability-benefits hearing at the SSA’s Office of Hearing Operations (OHO). The SSD appeals process involves gathering evidence and presenting a case before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
In many ways, this stage of the SSD reconsideration phase is like going to trial. You, and other witnesses, may be testifying, and evidence will be presented before an SSA ALJ. It may also be better for your case to be presented solely through medical documentation.
If your application is denied after the SSD appeals hearing, you can appeal to the Social Security Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will consider your hearing record and any additional evidence that has been admitted to the record. If this appeal is unsuccessful, you can request a review by a federal appeals court.
It’s crucial to have a disability benefits lawyer during the SSD appeal hearing stage and, if necessary, for any other appeals. Your disability lawyer can help you ensure that your appeal information is properly presented and clearly communicated.
You Need a Disability Attorney to Help Avoid Unnecessary Delays
The further you get into the SSD process, the more complicated it can become. Having more appeals usually means having to wait longer for the benefits you need. This can be a dire situation. However, this type of needless delay is avoidable. By working with a disability benefits lawyer early on, you will have the information and advocacy you need to get the SSD benefits you deserve.
Contact an Experienced Disability Benefits Attorney
The Dailey Law Firm P.C. has decades of combined experience gathering evidence and representing people throughout the Social Security disability benefits process. Our firm knows what to do at every stage of the SSD process and can help you get the disability benefits you need.
Attorney Brian Dailey is a disability lawyer who has over ten years of experience representing individuals fighting for disability benefits. Dailey Law Firm Attorney D. Glenn Smith, Jr has 21 years of experience representing social security disability claimants. They know the SSA disability benefits laws and procedures and can help you prepare and present your case.
If you are thinking about applying for Social Security disability, are in the application process, or have a pending appeal, a disability lawyer at The Dailey Law Firm, P.C. can help. If you live in Michigan, Indiana, or Chicago, Illinois, and need help with Social Security disability benefits, contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your situation.