Applying for Social Security Disability Benefits with the Help of a Lawyer
February 5, 2021
Workers disabled because of a medical condition may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. Also available are Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to certain individuals who meet income requirements. However, applying for SSDI and SSI can be complicated. The Social Security Administration (SSA) denies benefits to most people who apply. It is important for disabled individuals to understand their rights and obtain qualified legal counsel when applying for benefits. The Philadelphia Social Security disability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP have guided many disabled workers through this application process to ensure they obtain the benefits to which they are entitled by law.
What is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?
SSDI and SSI are two distinct programs administered by the SSA.
- SSDI provides income to disabled workers who are insured because they have been paying Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes for some time. Individuals may qualify for SSDI if their work history meets certain requirements.
- SSI provides income to disabled individuals who are unable to work if they meet financial and residency requirements, but they are not required to have a work history.
Both programs assist working-age adults who have a mental or physical disability that prevents them from participating in the workforce.
What Will I Receive Regarding SSDI Benefits?
The exact amount of money that a disabled worker can expect to receive from SSDI will depend on how much they paid in FICA taxes over the years. As a result, the application process requires individuals to provide detailed information about the amount of money they earned, as well as the names and addresses of employers they had during the past 15 years, and the dates of employment at each job.
A monthly SSDI payment may also depend on whether an individual is receiving any other type of lump sum, permanent, or temporary compensation from other sources, including the following:
- Workers’ Compensation
- Disability-based military retirement pensions
- Black lung benefits
- Longshore Workers’ Compensation
- Civil Service disability pensions
- Federal employees’ compensation or retirement benefits
- State or local government disability insurance benefits
The SSA does not factor in Veterans Administration (VA) benefits when calculating SSDI benefits. Also, the SSA does not pay out benefits immediately after approving an application; there is usually a delay of at least six months.
What Qualifies as a Disability?
The medical eligibility rules for SSDI and SSI are not the same as for Workers’ Compensation or other programs that provide temporary or partial disability benefits. The Social Security Act defines disability as:
- A severe medical condition that has lasted, or is expected to last, at least one year or result in death
- A medical condition that prevents a person from doing work that they did in the past and from adjusting to other work
There are many types of medical conditions that may fit this definition, including:
- Certain mental disorders, including autism and clinical depression
- Kidney disease
- Immune system disorders
- Heart conditions
- Musculoskeletal problems
- Respiratory illnesses, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Applicants must also be able to show that their disability prevents them from doing any type of work, not just the job that they held most recently. To prove they have a disability that meets this definition, applicants must provide detailed information about their medical condition, as well as the following:
- Contact information for all doctors, hospitals, and clinics where they received treatment
- Dates of treatment, as well as all medical tests and the names of the doctors requesting tests
- Names of medicines taken and who prescribed them
What Should I Do if My Disability Application is Denied?
Individuals who have been denied SSDI or SSI benefits should contact a Social Security disability lawyer who can provide professional counsel regarding their rights. Individuals must file a reconsideration before requesting a hearing before a judge. During the hearing, individuals must present testimony regarding their disability. A vocational expert may be present at the hearing to testify regarding the individual’s ability to work. Individuals also have the right to have a lawyer represent them at the hearing.
How has Galfand Berger LLP Helped Disabled Workers in the Past?
Galfand Berger LLP guides many workers through the complicated process of collecting evidence about their medical condition and obtains the proof needed to show they are no longer able to participate in the workforce. In addition to representing individuals, Galfand Berger LLP also won a landmark decision in a federal court case regarding disabled steelworkers’ rights to disability income benefits. The following two cases are examples of how Galfand Berger LLP has helped disabled workers obtain SSDI benefits:
- Disability payment for back injury. An employee suffered a work-related back injury that left him unable to work. The man was also diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). An administrative law judge denied the worker’s initial application for Social Security disability benefits. The appeals council later remanded the case. During the second hearing, Galfand Berger LLP represented the worker and was able to recover more than $40,000 in retroactive Social Security benefits for him.
- Disability payment for knee and shoulder injuries. A 50-year-old worker suffered from bilateral knee and shoulder complications. Galfand Berger LLP was able to achieve a favorable outcome for the client in three months, obtaining retroactive benefits.
More than one in four adults become disabled before they retire. Many of these disabled workers turn to Social Security disability benefits as a critical source of financial support.
Philadelphia Social Security Disability Lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP Represent Those Who were Denied Disability Benefits
Millions of disabled workers have their claims denied each year. The Philadelphia Social Security disability lawyers at Galfand Berger LLP are experienced at helping disabled individuals collect the evidence they need to obtain a favorable decision. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-222-8792 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, Pennsylvania, we proudly serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including Allentown and Harrisburg.