What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security Lawyers assist injured workers in obtaining disability benefits.
An applicant is eligible for Social Security Disability benefits when he or she suffers from a severe disability.
The disability must prevent the worker from performing any substantial gainful employment. To be eligible, the worker also must have earned enough work credits.
The applicant must have paid into the Social Security system for a sufficient period of time to be considered an “insured.” Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is a federal system. It is also a social insurance program. Once eligible for benefits, the worker will receive income support in the form of money payments.
The focus of a Social Security Disability lawyer’s practice is proving the applicant’s level of physical and/or mental disability. The attorney must gather medical evidence. This evidence should include diagnostic testing, such as MRI’s, X-rays, and nerve tests. The submitted medical records will determine the success of every Social Security Disability application.
To receive benefits, an individual must suffer from a disability as defined in the Social Security Act. In addition, the disability must have existed for a long enough time. Specifically, it must have lasted, or it is expected to last, for at least one year. Or, in the alternative, the injury or condition causing disability must be expected to result in death. Proving the level of disability can be a difficult task. It means showing that the applicant can no longer perform past work.
The injury or illness must also prevent the worker from performing other forms of employment, such as desk work. Age, education, prior work experience, licenses, and other factors will be taken into consideration.
Questions to Ask Your Social Security Disability Lawyer
The first thing every applicant should ask his or her Social Security disability attorney is to explain the process. Every case must start with an application.
The injured worker can submit an application in person at a local social security office, or online. The social security disability lawyer will assist in filling out the application.
This will require discussion of prior work experience, treatment, symptoms, and physical limitations. The lawyer will also gather and submit medical evidence. From there, the Social Security Administration will send the worker to a medical consultant. The consultant will form an opinion as to level of disability.
The Social Security Administration will then make an initial determination. If the application is granted, benefits will be paid. If the application is denied, the worker may submit an appeal and request a hearing. A request for a hearing is essentially an updated application. The social security lawyer will also submit additional medical records. Typically, a hearing will take place 1-2 years after an appeal is submitted.
What to Expect at a Social Security Disability Hearing
If an application is denied, the Social Security Disability lawyer will represent the worker at a hearing before an administrative law judge. At the hearing, the Judge and the lawyer will question the worker under oath. The judge will want to know details about the worker’s earnings, physical complaints, past work, and medical treatment. The worker may also present witnesses. The judge will call a vocational expert. The expert will give an opinion as to what jobs a person with limitations similar to the worker can do. The lawyer may cross-examine the expert. The best attorneys are able to have the expert say that there are no jobs a similar worker is capable of doing.
If the judge finds the worker to be eligible for benefits, the worker may receive back pay. The worker will receive benefits starting from six months from the date of disablement. The date of disablement may be the date the worker went out of work due to injury. Or, it could also be some other date based on medical evidence. The date of disablement is in the discretion of the law judge and the Social Security Administration. An attorney fee is typically the lesser of 25% of back pay, or $6,000.
If a worker is denied benefits at a hearing, the Social Security Disability lawyer may file an administrative appeal. The lawyer may also file and appeal in federal court. In some circumstances, the injured worker should instead file a new application.
Can an Injured Worker Receive Worker’s Compensation Benefits and Social Security Benefits at the Same Time?
The answer is yes, a worker may receive both types of benefits at the same time. However, the worker must routinely report all income, including other disability income, to Social Security. Additional income, such as workers’ compensation benefits, may lead to a reduction in benefits paid through social security. The injured worker may also file a personal injury lawsuit while applying for social security disability benefits. Any recovery from a personal injury case must also be reported to the Social Security Administration
If you are seeking a skilled Social Security Disability lawyer to assist with your application or hearing, please call The Platta Law Firm 24/7 for a free consultation.