It’s difficult to pass through the barriers to win Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in Duluth. There’s a good chance your application will be rejected even if your challenges are real and you’ve been working for decades.
Some people are turned away because of paperwork mistakes, and others are told they need to submit even more documentation. A denial means months of frustration and financial stress as you go through the appeals process. You need to talk to a Duluth Social Security Disability lawyer.
Why Would I Need an Attorney to Help Me with a Social Security Disability Claim?
At John Foy & Associates, our law firm’s only mission is to help people who have been left vulnerable because of injuries and other circumstances. For over 20 years, we have been working to get SSD benefits for our clients.
We know the kinds of proof the government needs to see, and we can put together an application or handle your case on appeal. We’d like to give you a free consultation to talk about your condition and explain the process.
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How Does the Social Security Disability System Work?
The federal Social Security Act guarantees an income to people who have had jobs and paid into the Social Security system but are now unable to work. Most Social Security recipients are retirees, but Social Security also provides benefits if you can’t work due to a disability or medical condition.
Monthly SSDI benefits will go a long way toward covering bills for your home, food, utilities, car, and other expenses. There are three important items to learn about the SSD program:
- It is not a handout. SSD benefits come from the same program that provides Social Security payments when you retire, which you earned by working and paying your Social Security taxes. If you can’t work anymore, you have a right to access SSDI benefits.
- Any disability can qualify, as long as it keeps you from working. Your disability may be the result of an accident or injury, or it may be a medical condition that has developed on its own. It does not have to be related to your job.
- Work history is important. To qualify for benefits, you need to show you worked enough over the past 10 years to earn enough credits; however, you can qualify sometimes if you were unemployed for part of that time or if your job was only part-time. If you do not have enough work history to qualify for SSD, you may still qualify for a similar program for low-income people called SSI.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) in Duluth, GA is responsible for overseeing the SSDI program and evaluating applications. Unfortunately, many applicants in Duluth are turned down for benefits, even with a legitimate disability. A Social Security attorney in Duluth can greatly increase your chances of getting approved for benefits quickly.
How Do I Qualify for Receiving SSDI Benefits in Duluth?
The basic rule is simple: if you worked previously but cannot work now because of a disability, you are eligible. However, gaining approval is not as easy as it sounds because you must convince the SSA that you qualify. You must show these things:
- You have a doctor’s diagnosis of a medical condition.
- Your condition is expected to last for a year or longer, or it is terminal.
- You cannot do your job because of your disability.
- You also cannot do any other type of work.
- Your condition would make it hard to do any other potential job.
- You have earned enough “work credits” through your past work to qualify.
- At least twenty of your work credits were earned in the last 10 years.
- If you do not have enough credits, you must prove you have a low income.
Disabled workers usually meet these conditions. However, it can be hard to assemble the right kind of evidence to prove that you are disabled to the Social Security Administration. This is where having a Social Security lawyer in Duluth comes in handy.
How Do I Know If My Condition Is Considered a “Disability”?
A disability is a condition that keeps you from working, so if you can’t work, your condition should qualify. But in most cases, you will need evidence about your particular situation to convince the SSA that you are disabled.
There are a few severe conditions that the SSA will always recognize as a disability. All you need to get benefits is a diagnosis by a doctor. These conditions include some cancers and kidney failure.
What Are Some Other Disabling Conditions?
All other conditions fall into a “gray area.” Sometimes they cause enough injury to keep you from working, but not always. For example, many heart patients hold jobs and lead normal lives. But some have heart conditions that are so severe they are unable to work anymore. The SSA calls these “disabling conditions,” and they might include:
- Serious heart conditions and heart failure
- Low vision and blindness
- Neurological conditions
- Mental illness
- Severe back pain
- Severe asthma and other respiratory ailments
The SSA has a long list of disabling conditions, available here. The list is not meant to be exclusive – you may have a condition that is not present on the list but still prevents you from working. But you may have to submit even more documentation to show the SSA that your claims are accurate.
What If My Application Was Already Denied?
You have a right to appeal, giving you another chance at approval. We have seen many cases where people were denied the first time around but won approval on appeal. It is important to understand, though, that there is a reason your application was denied.
To have a successful appeal, you must identify that reason and respond to it by submitting additional documentation when you file your appeal paperwork. This is one of the main reasons why people hire Social Security Disability attorneys.
There is actually more than one opportunity to appeal. At some point, your case will be decided in court instead of by an SSA employee if your appeal goes long enough. Judges tend to understand the law better and may be more sympathetic to your case than a government employee.
Can You Run Out of Appeals?
You can’t keep appealing forever; eventually, you will use up your appeals. If your final appeal is denied, you will be unable to get benefits without starting the whole process over again. In the meantime, you have no benefits and no income. To give yourself the best chance of approval, get a lawyer on your side as soon as possible.
What do I Do If the SSA Is Ending My Benefits?
Thanks to improved technology, it’s easier than ever for disabled people to find alternate ways to work through things like the gig economy. However, if you start earning too much money and the SSA notices, you could end up losing your SSD or SSI benefits.
This is fine if your new source of income brings in enough to cover your needs, but often it doesn’t. The SSA doesn’t look to see if you can support yourself on your new income. It just needs to break a certain cutoff amount.
If you’re in danger of losing your benefits, our Duluth Social Security attorneys can appeal their decision and see if you can keep your benefits, if possible. By keeping your benefits, you won’t have to go through the SSD process again should your condition worsen or you lose your income source.
If My Spouse Died, Will Their Benefits Affect My SSD?
The Social Security program has many benefits for married people, but when multiple factors pile up, it can get confusing to know how much you can get or lose. For example, in the situation in the heading, you may be only able to get a partial spousal benefit.
A Social Security Disability lawyer can help you plan for the future after you’re on SSD. Most disabilities that qualify for SSD do not go away, so you’ll need to be prepared for what happens if you marry, divorce, or have a spouse pass.
Contact a Duluth Social Security Disability Lawyer Today
SSD benefits are a financial lifeline that will help you replace the income you have lost because of your medical condition. A consultation with a lawyer is one simple step that can avoid months of waiting with no benefits.
Let John Foy & Associates sit down with you and explain the process and how we can help. Call us or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.
404-400-4000 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form