Making Up For Lost Time

« Back to Home

Social Security Disability: Understanding The Process From Application To Appeal

Posted on

If you suddenly become disabled due to an injury or illness, you may find yourself unable to work. Essentially, you're forced into taking early retirement, but without the help of a social security attorney, you may be minus the benefits that are generally awarded to retirees in America. If you've applied and been denied social security disability benefits, there are actions you can take to fight for what you feel is legally yours, and retaining the services of a social security lawyer is one of the most effective. Your attorney will help guide you through the process, helping you better understand the ins and outs of social security disability. 

Determining Eligibility

In order to qualify for Social Security Disability, or SSD, you must have paid in enough credits, via FICA tax, throughout your lifetime to meet the minimum requirements. You can receive these benefits at any age, provided you meet that one magic number. If it's expected that you'll be unemployed for at least a year because of your condition, or that the condition will result in your death, you may be eligible to receive monthly benefits. If you meet these basic requirements, the next step is to apply.

Determining Disability

Once the government has received and processed your application, they will make a determination as to whether you should truly be considered disabled. And this is typically where your social security attorney becomes necessary. Many applicants for SSD are initially declined because they're deemed able to work. For a disability determination to be made, you must meet a second, more-specific requirement: Your injury or illness must prevent you from physically performing the type of work you previously performed. It must also prevent you from adapting to all other types of work. 

This last point is difficult to prove without the help of an attorney, and it's sometimes the reason that disability claims are denied. If this has happened to you, an appeal can be made, but you should first consult with a lawyer who specializes in this type of law to find out how best to proceed. 

Receiving Benefits

If your attorney appeals the determination at your request, and is able to have the decision reversed, you will begin receiving benefits. The amount of the monthly stipend you receive is based on your lifetime earnings, so it will never go up or down over time. 

The time frame to begin receiving benefits, however, is typically lengthy. It can take up to five months for an initial determination to be made. And if your initial response is a denial, then your appeal begins the whole deliberation process over again. Once the courts are involved, it could take a year or more for your benefits to be approved. And if you're truly disabled and unable to work at any job, surviving this waiting period can be a challenge. 

Once you begin receiving social security disability benefits, your case will be reviewed intermittently to ensure that you're still disabled and unable to work. If, at any time it's deemed that your condition has improved to the point where you're able to hold down gainful employment, your benefits may stop. At this point, you'll have to begin the whole application process over again -- waiting period, eligibility determination, and all -- to resume receiving benefits. 

Social security disability is typically difficult to qualify for, but with the help of a knowledgeable social security lawyer, you're chances will improve. Having someone in there fighting for you -- someone who understands the legalese of SSD -- is vital. If you're unable to work due to illness or injury, don't give up on your disability benefits simply because you were denied in the initial round. Play it smart and hire an attorney to help you get more benefits, and you just might be pleased with the result.