Radcliff Social Security Disability Lawyers
Helping Hardin County Clients Get the Support They Need
If you have a disability that keeps you from working, it is understandable that you might worry about how you will continue to provide for yourself and your loved ones. The United States federal government provides monetary benefits for individuals in these situations through the Social Security Administration (SSA). Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) is intended for those who have paid into the program through previous employment, while Supplementary Security Income (SSI) assists those with more limited or nonexistent resources.
Qualifying for SSDI or SSI benefits requires passing a rigorous means test that evaluates both your family’s current financial situation as well as the nature of your long-term medical condition. Because the SSA is aggressive in detecting potential fraud, eligibility can be difficult to prove, resulting in application denials for individuals who absolutely need and qualify for benefits.
Our Radcliff social security disability lawyers at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples have over 80 years of legal experience helping Kentucky clients obtain SSDI and SSI benefits. We understand how essential these benefits can be and are familiar with every step of the application process. Our team can help you understand whether you qualify and advocate for you in all communications with the SSA.
Understanding If Your Medical Condition Qualifies You for SSDI or SSI Benefits
In order to obtain SSDI or SSI benefits, you will need to prove you have a qualifying disability that prevents you from maintaining meaningful employment. You must have a long-term disability to get SSDI benefits. Partial disabilities or short-term disabilities will not count.
A disability eligible for SSDI must meet the following criteria:
- The disability prevents you from doing the work you were doing before or have historically done
- You are not able to adjust to a comparable level or type of work because of your condition
- Your disability will keep you from returning to work for at least one year or will result in death
Conditions that often qualify include hearing or vision loss, significant back or joint problems, and debilitating respiratory illnesses. The condition must specifically interfere with your ability to do work in your field. The Social Security Administration offers a list of automatically qualifying “severe” disabilities.
If your condition is not explicitly named in this “Blue Book,” whether you qualify for benefits will be at the discretion of the SSA officer reviewing your application. Our Social Security Disability attorneys can help build your case, including assisting in assembling of the necessary medical documentation.
How the Financial Requirements for SSDI and SSI Benefits Work
Whether you qualify for SSDI versus SSI largely depends on your household’s financial situation. It is helpful to remember that SSDI stands for “Social Security Disability Insurance,” which you pay into when working various types of jobs. If you have paid enough into Social Security, you can be “paid out” through SSDI benefits.
In order to receive SSDI benefits, you will have to establish you have sufficient accumulated “work credits.” You can earn up to 4 work credits a year through wages and self-employment income. The precise amount needed to trigger a work credit changes with the general wage level; as of 2020, you need to earn $1,410 to earn one credit.
The amount of credits you need depends on your age. Generally, the older you are, the more credits you will need to have accumulated. A recency provision requires that a certain portion of those credits come from the years immediately preceding your present medical condition.
SSI benefits are intended for those who do not have the necessary work credits but still have a qualifying disability that keeps them from working. To receive SSI benefits, you must be at least 65 years-old and/or be partially or completely blind. You must also have limited to no means of income. While SSI benefits tend to be significantly less valuable than SSDI benefits, beneficiaries will also automatically qualify for Medicaid in the state of Kentucky.
What To Do If Your SSDI or SSI Application Is Denied
Because the SSDI and SSI application leaves some discretion to SSA examiners, rejections can be unfortunately common, even if you appear to qualify. Fortunately, you have several options in appealing an unfavorable decision. If you have not already done so, it is critical you seek qualified legal representation to assist you with the appeals process.
Your application denial will come in the form of a letter from the SSA. This letter should specify the reasons for the rejection. Reasons can include the claim that you have insufficient work credits or that your medical condition does not meet the eligibility requirements. We can review the specific justifications for your denial before assessing the facts of your case and advising how best to proceed.
The first step of a formal appeal to an SSDI or SSI application is to request reconsideration through the SSA. A new examiner will evaluate the entirety of your application, including any new and additional evidence supporting your case.
Should you still receive an unfavorable decision after reconsideration, you can request a hearing with an administrative law judge. This is a more involved process in which a judge may request your and others’ testimony before making a decision on whether to grant you benefits.
If you face another denial, you can attempt to escalate your case to the SSA’s Appeals Council. Depending on the circumstances, they may choose to deny an additional appeal, send the case back for another review from a different administrative law judge, or perform their own evaluation. If all else fails, you can attempt to request an appeal from a federal court.
It is imperative you have legal representation advocating for you in the initial stages of an appeal process. Appeals are rarely successful once they have exhausted initial options and must resort to the SSA’s Appeals Council or federal courts. We can fight for your case and work to do everything possible to bolster your case.
Get Help with Social Security Disability Benefits
The reality is that navigating the overcomplicated and overwhelming process of qualifying for SSDI or SSI benefits can easily become burdensome as you struggle to care for yourself and your family without additional financial assistance. We understand how important these benefits can be, which is why our Radcliff Social Security Disability lawyers at Musselwhite Meinhart & Staples strive to do everything possible to obtain a favorable outcome for our clients. Our team can answer all of your questions about SSDI and SSI benefits and can determine whether your application is likely to succeed.
Our law firm provides a full range of legal services to help you and your family achieve your goals. We speak your language. We are here to help you understand your legal options, what to expect and what steps we can take to protect you.
Our firm offers over the phone and video consultations for your safety and convenience. All consultations are free.
Our attorneys treat you like family. We care about helping you find the best resolution to your case.
We are accessible to our clients and are available 24/7.
Our attorneys offer honest advice and tailored solutions to your unique goals.
We are friendly and approachable lawyers who listen and understand your needs.
Our attorneys have decades of experience with successfully handling a variety of legal matters.