If you have become ill and are unable to work for a living, the federal government provides a safety net through Social Security disability (SSD) benefits. This program is designed to ensure the well-being of those who are disabled, but actually obtaining the appropriate benefits can be a drawn-out, bureaucratic process.
Most SSD applicants end up appealing an initial decision from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about their benefits. The SSA says that its administrative appeals operation is one of the largest administrative judicial systems in the world. The SSA’s Office of Disability Adjudication and Review issues more than half a million hearing and appeal dispositions each year.
It’s easy to see how trying to obtain the SSD benefits that you deserve can become a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s also easy to see how having a South Carolina SSD lawyer working to help you obtain the appropriate disability benefits can be an important step toward ensuring your and your family’s financial security.
An experienced South Carolina Social Security Disability Attorney can help you navigate the federal government’s confusing application and appeals process to obtain your SSD benefits as quickly as possible.
Call Joye Law Firm at (888) 324-3100 or use this online contact form to speak with a South Carolina lawyer now. We can get your case reviewed free of charge – and with no strings attached. Learn how much disability pay in SC.
Obtaining Social Security Disability Benefits
SSD benefits can provide vital assistance to workers who can no longer earn a living because of a physical or mental disability. However, the federal government outlines specific criteria that must be met before someone is declared eligible for SSD benefits.
First, you must be totally disabled. This means that you must have a condition that prevents you from performing substantial gainful work.
The SSA requires evidence that:
- You cannot do work that you did before.
- Your disability has lasted or is expected to last at least 12 months or result in death.
- You cannot adjust to any other type of employment because of your medical condition.
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you also must have a history of employment. Generally, you can qualify if you have paid into the Social Security system for 40 quarters – 20 of which were in the 10 years before you became disabled.
If you have not worked enough to qualify for SSDI benefits, you could be entitled to disability benefits through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, provided you have little income and few assets.
Like many government programs, SSD has grown increasingly complex to make sure it meets an unending variety of conditions and circumstances. It’s not enough that your doctor has declared that you are disabled. An applicant for SSD benefits must fill out multiple forms and provide a variety of medical records, employment records, financial statements and other personal data.
The SSA makes the ultimate decision regarding your disability and the financial benefits you deserve based on information you provide in your claim.
You must provide solid medical evidence that your condition is truly disabling. And if you have a mental illness, such as depression, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia or panic attacks (anxiety), the SSA is likely to scrutinize your disability claim more closely.
A South Carolina attorney experienced with SSD claims can help you gather and complete the paperwork your claim requires. An experienced SSD lawyer can also advise you about additional information that could strengthen your application in the eyes of the SSA.
Appeals Are Common With SSD Claims
If you have already applied for Social Security Disability benefits and been turned down, you are not alone. The majority of first-time claims are initially denied, and most claim applicants then find themselves in a lengthy appeals process.
There are four levels of SSD appeals, which must be followed in this order:
- Reconsideration – This is a new review of your file by someone who was not involved in the first decision. You may add information to your file for a reconsideration of your SSD claim.
- Hearing – If the reconsideration of your claim still results in a denial, you may ask to meet face-to-face with an administrative law judge (ALJ). You may present witnesses at a hearing, such as vocational or medical experts.
- Appeals council review – If you disagree with the ALJ’s decision at a hearing, you may ask for a review by Social Security’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council can deny your request for a review, conduct a review (without further input from you) and make a decision, or send your case back to the ALJ.
- District court case – After an Appeals Council decision, you may pursue your claim further by filing a lawsuit against the Social Security Administration in federal district court in South Carolina. Your case will be heard by a district court judge, and you will be allowed to present evidence and testimony.
You are not required to have an attorney to apply for SSD or to appeal a decision about your SSD claim. However, the entire process – especially appeals – is complex, and there are important deadlines that must be met. When you get to the point of presenting evidence from a doctor or others, a representative who is used to questioning witnesses could prove invaluable to the presentation of your case.
A SSD benefits lawyer who is experienced working with the SSD system in South Carolina can help you gather appropriate medical evidence and work with local vocational experts who can evaluate your impairments and testify about how they make you unable to work.
Contact a Columbia Social Security Disability Benefits Lawyer
If you are totally disabled and cannot work for a living, you may be entitled to SSD benefits. A Columbia SSD benefits attorney can help you obtain the federal assistance you need and deserve. Do not fight the Social Security Administration on your own.