If you reside in Charleston, S.C. or anywhere in the Lowcountry, and have been diagnosed with a disabling medical condition, you may qualify for federal Social Security disability benefits. The Social Security Administration (SSA) operates two programs —Social Security Disability Insurance (SSD) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) —that provide benefits to disabled people who are unable to work because of a disabling condition.
Many people in Charleston who apply for disability benefits and have legitimate claims are rejected initially. Have you been told you don’t qualify for disability benefits? The Social Security Administration has a narrow definition of disability. If you receive a rejection letter after applying for Social Security Disability benefits, you should not give up without contacting a Charleston disability benefits lawyer. You may still qualify for benefits even if you have received a denial notice. A disability benefits attorney may be able to help people in Charleston and surrounding areas obtain benefits by appealing denied SSD claims.
If you need to talk with a Charleston disability lawyer, contact the Joye Law Firm. We can get your disability claim reviewed—free of charge.
Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you must have a medically diagnosed disabling condition that keeps you from holding gainful employment.
The evidence accompanying your SSD application must show:
- You can no longer perform the job that you had before
- Your condition keeps you from transitioning to other types of gainful work
- Your disability is anticipated to last at least a year or be a terminal condition that will lead to death eventually.
You also must have a work history, in addition to meeting the medical criteria. You must have worked enough years and contributed taxes to the Social Security system to qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits. The number of work credits you must have to qualify for benefits depends on your age.
When you apply for Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, you are required to submit a number of documents including:
- Work history records
- Medical records describing the disability condition
- Financial records including retirement accounts
- Workers’ compensation records if you have received workers’ comp benefits.
If you have not worked or were not in the workforce enough years to be eligible for SSDI benefits and have few assets, then you may be eligible to claim Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits. SSI provides benefits for individuals with few financial resources and no work history.
Social Security Administration field offices work with Disability Determination Services, a unit of the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation Department, to review disability applications and decide whether applicants qualify for benefits. The address of the SSA field office in Charleston is:
Social Security Administration
1463 Tobias Gadson Blvd.
Charleston, SC 29407
Whether you have questions about for a Charleston SSD attorney about applying for disability benefits or have received a denial letter and wish to appeal, call the Joye Law Firm.
A qualified disability attorney will understand the medical language that claims examiners are seeking to grant disability benefits. An attorney can also avoid the missteps that can delay the approval process for your disability benefits.
When Am I Considered ‘disabled’ For SSD Purposes?
A letter from your doctor saying that you are disabled is not enough by itself to qualify for disability benefits.
You must have a diagnosed physical or mental impairment that is serious enough to limit your ability to do any substantial work or work-related tasks such as standing, walking, sitting, lifting and remembering information.
Your disability must have lasted or be expected to last at least a year or be a terminal condition that is expected to result in your death.
SSD Claim Appeals/Common Causes for Denied Appeals
Most Charleston residents who apply for disability benefits have to take the additional step of filing an appeal after receiving a notice from the Social Security Administration that their application did not qualify for benefits. A high percentage of disability applications are denied initially.
If the SSA has turned down your request for disability benefits, then you only have a limited amount of time to file an appeal. You must appeal the denial decision in a timely manner or lose your right to pursue an appeal. It is helpful to have a knowledgeable Charleston, S.C. disability benefits lawyer handle your appeal and advocate on your behalf.
The disability claims appeals process involves multiple levels of appeals:
Reconsideration—The first step is to ask the SSA to reconsider your application. A reconsideration involves a review of your file by a claims examiner who did not participate in the initial review. You will be asked to provide updated information about your medical condition. The examiner will review the complete file and determine if you qualify for disability benefits. Requesting reconsideration is a procedural step before you can request a hearing. A small percentage of applications are granted approval during the reconsideration process, which may take several months to complete.
Hearing— If your SSD application is denied upon reconsideration, then you may ask for a hearing before an administrative law judge. You may have witnesses including medical experts testify on your behalf about your disability. The hearing provides your best chance of getting the initial decision reversed and obtaining disability benefits. Having medical records documenting your disability is critical to a successful claim. An experienced Charleston SSD attorney can help gather medical evidence and prepare you for the kinds of questions the administrative law judge will likely ask. Our attorneys can call medical professionals as witnesses to support your claim. The administrative law judge is unlikely to announce a decision about your case at the hearing. The judge may take a number of months to decide your case.
Appeals Council—If you are dissatisfied with the administrative law judge’s decision, then you may appeal to the Social Security Administration Appeals Council and ask the council to determine whether an error of law was made in your case. The appeals council may accept the case for review, remand it to the administrative law judge for further action or decline to review the case and allow the judge’s decision to stand.
U.S. District Court—If you wish to challenge the decision by the Appeals Council, then you may file a lawsuit in federal district court in South Carolina, suing the Social Security Administration.
As you can tell from the steps outlined above, the disability appeals process is complicated. Fortunately, experienced legal help is available to help you navigate the appeals process. An experienced Charleston SSD lawyer can help you gather medical evidence and present your best case for disability benefits.
Working with an experienced SSD attorney can help make the appeals process go more smoothly.
Most Common Disabilities for SSD Benefits
To qualify for disability benefits, your disabling physical or mental impairment must match a condition listed in the Social Security Administration’s list of impairments. The most common impairments on which disability determinations are based varies by the type of beneficiary.
Diseases and disorders of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue were the most common type of qualifying disability among disabled workers as well as among widows and widowers, according to the most recent Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Program. They accounted for a third of disability claims among disabled workers. For adult disabled children, the most commonly listed disability is intellectual disability, accounting for nearly half of the cases.
Other common disabilities qualifying for SSD benefits include:
- Neurological Disorders
- Mental Disorders
- Cardiovascular System Disorders
- Digestive System Disorders including liver dysfunction
- Respiratory System Disorders
- Malignant Growths and Tumors
- Bladder and Kidney System Disorders
- Sensory Systems Disorders
- Blood System Disorders
- Skin Disorders
- Hormonal Disorders
- Malignant Cancer
- Immune System Disorders (including HIV/ AIDS)
- Congenital Disorders.
If your particular condition does not match one of the SSA’s listed impairments, you will have to have medical evidence to prove that your condition leaves you incapacitated in a manner consistent with a recognized impairment. Detailed medical records are the foundation of a successful disability claim. Our knowledgeable SSD attorneys can help you obtain an additional medical evaluation to supplement the medical evidence of your disabling condition.
If your appeal for disability benefits is accepted, the notice from the SSA will state when you will start receiving benefits and the amount. If you get a letter rejecting your claim, the letter will detail the reason for the decision and advise you of the amount of time you have to appeal. We understand that a denial can be discouraging and frustrating. But you should not give up. As we stated above, many people with valid claims receive denial notices. You may still qualify for benefits.
You should talk with a Charleston SSD disability claim attorneys to discuss your options and understand the steps to pursue an appeal. The initial consultation with our attorneys is free and confidential.
Source: Annual Statistical Report on the Social Security Disability Program.