Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Filing for Social Security Disability: When to Get a Lawyer Involved

Out of all government programs offering assistance to individuals with disabilities, Social Security and Supplemental Security Income Disability are the largest. The two, however, differ. SSDI provides benefits to an individual and family members if the individual has worked long enough and paid social security taxes. Supplemental Security Income (SSI) issues benefits based on financial need.

In the application process, the Social Security Administration (SSA) requests medical and other information about an individual's condition and makes a decision if he or she meets the SSA's definition of disability. The definition covers three points: an individual cannot do the work he did before, he cannot adapt to another form of employment with his condition, and the condition is expected to last for at least a year or result in death.

65 percent of the time, however, the initial claim is rejected, and the claimant has to go through an appeals process. Because of the application's convoluted nature, a lawyer should likely be involved at this point.

Social Security applications are denied for both medical and non-medical reasons and are reviewed through a multi-step system. First, to be considered disabled, an applicant cannot be making $1,040 per month to be considered disabled. If he meets this criteria, his or her condition must interfere with basic work activities. If it does, the condition must be found on the SSA's list of severe medical conditions. If it does, it must interfere with his previous type of work and any other type of employment.

Most of the time, the notice of denial includes an explanation; however, the SSA typically denies claims for insufficient medical evidence.

Once a lawyer gets involved, and at the appeals stage once is essential, he or she can assist with gathering all materials for the application. Additionally, a lawyer's involvement increases the chances of claiming past-due benefits by 600 percent. Consultations with social security lawyers are free; however, if a case is won, he or she receives a fee, which is typically about 25 percent of all back pay.

In these cases, a lawyer attempts to prove an individual can no longer work and knows how to clearly prove a condition is a disability. Because of this, attorneys in this field take on cases involving individuals who meet the SSA's criteria but have been denied. Similarly looking at the SSA's guidelines, a lawyer will determine if a client is currently engaged in activity, has a severe impairment, has one or more impairments meeting or equaling the listed impairments, can perform past relevant work, and if there is any other work he or she can perform.

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