Many applicants in Hampton, Georgia are denied on their first try for Social Security Disability benefits, even if they have paid into the system and truly have a disabling condition. If this is similar to your situation, don’t give up.
Many times, providing more information or clarification can improve your chances of approval. Most applicants also benefit from the help of a Hampton Social Security Disability (SSD) lawyer. Here’s what you need to know about this complicated process.
What Is Social Security Disability (SSD)?
Social Security Disability, or SSD, is a benefit afforded to all citizens if they have worked long enough in the country to qualify. Everyone gives up a bit of their paycheck to pay into the Social Security system. When we get old, or get disabled, or meet certain other conditions, we can get that money back.
It is not a benefit that you get for ‘free’. If you’ve been working, you’ve been paying into it ever since your first paycheck. Social Security Disability is a benefit for those who become totally disabled and are unable to work anymore. It is a lifeline to keep disabled people from falling into poverty.
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How to Know if You Qualify for Social Security Disability
Generally, you should qualify for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits if you:
- Have worked and paid into Social Security through taxes and
- Have a medical condition that now prevents you from working
This seems straightforward, but there is a lengthy process the Social Security Administration (SSA) uses to assess each application. The SSA wants to make sure any applicant truly qualifies for benefits, and they will be looking for concrete proof.
Sadly, that means many people fall through the cracks even if they meet the criteria. This is why we recommend working with a Social Security Disability attorney in Hampton who can help improve your application or help you if you are appealing a previous decision.
How the SSA Determines Whether You Are Disabled
Like most government bureaucracies, the SSA uses checklists and guidelines to determine if you qualify. The SSA asks five questions when deciding if you are disabled:
- Are you working?
- Is your condition “severe”?
- Is your condition found in the list of disabling conditions?
- Can you do the work you did previously?
- Can you do any other type of work?
To qualify for SSD, you will need to have a total disability, meaning you cannot do any type of work because of your condition. This is why the SSA will assess whether or not you can perform any work, including past work or alternative forms of work. Your condition is “severe” if it prevents you from doing any substantial gainful activity (SGA).
Next, the SSA will see if your condition is on their list of impairments. These are conditions considered severe enough to prevent SGA. If your condition is not on this list, they will determine if your disability is equal in severity to another listed condition and prevents you from working.
Work History Requirements for SSA
Having a total disability is just one piece of the SSD puzzle. Since benefits are paid through taxes taken out of each worker’s paycheck, the SSA wants to see if you have contributed to the system in the past and if you have done so for long enough to qualify.
Every year, you can earn up to four “work credits” based on wages you’ve earned. The number of wages needed per work credit changes each year. In 2019, you earn one work credit per $1,360 of wages. Once you have earned four times that ($5,440), you’ve hit your maximum of four credits per year.
If you are 62 or older, you generally need 40 work credits with 20 of those earned in the last 10 years before you became disabled. Younger workers need fewer work credits and years of work to qualify. Between ages 31 and 60, the requirements range from 20 to 38 work credits.
Providing Proof of Your Disability in Hampton
Even if you know you meet the above qualifications, you will still need to prove them to the SSA. Here are some ways to do that:
Show a Strong Medical History
One of the top reasons Social Security benefits get denied is a lack of sufficient medical evidence to prove the disabling condition. It’s vital to have a lot of medical documentation, beginning as soon as you were first disabled. To get all the records and information needed, you might need to:
- Contact past and current doctors’ offices.
- Ask past employers, family, or friends about when your condition started to affect your work.
- Consult with a Hampton Social Security Disability lawyer who can help you build your claim.
Even if your disability is obvious, the doctor’s records are the definitive proof. If you cannot or are unable to get these yourself, our lawyers can help you get them. You will need records from your doctor(s) that include their assessment, diagnosis, prescribed medications, and treatment plans for your condition.
Choose the Right Doctors
It’s best to go to a conventional medical doctor over an alternative one, such as a naturopathic doctor, as the SSA may not take them seriously. Also, a specialist’s opinion is often better than just your primary care doctor’s. If you need help to determine which doctor is best qualified to diagnose your disability, a Social Security Disability lawyer can help.
You should also maintain clear communication with your doctor. Be upfront about all the ways your condition limits you. You and your doctor will need to be in agreement about how your medical condition disables you, and have that agreement documented in their records.
Provide Details on How the Condition Affects You
Besides proving the severity of your condition and that you cannot work, personal testimony may help too. Keep a journal of what you do each day. Detail how your condition affects your ability to do daily tasks, such as standing, sitting, walking, lifting things, and more.
It needs to be clear that your condition and its symptoms prevent you from fulfilling the actions of full-time work. You might also make a list of friends, family members, or co-workers, who can vouch for how your condition affects your ability to work.
What to Do If Your Social Security Disability Claim Is Denied in Hampton
If your application gets denied, it’s not the end. Don’t give up and don’t start a new application. The SSA offers a process to appeal the decision on your current application. If you begin another application, you can actually hurt your chances of getting approved.
If you have already applied and were denied, it’s best to consult with a Social Security Disability attorney in Hampton. If you were denied, there’s something about your application that needs improvement. An attorney can help pinpoint the problem and address it in the strongest way.
Can I Lose My SSDI Benefits?
Yes. If you become able to work again and can meet certain income requirements, you could lose your benefits. Thanks to technology, more disabled people are able to earn side income, but if they get too successful they could lose their SSD.
Our team of Hampton SSD attorneys can advise you on the limits and what you need to watch for to avoid losing your benefits. If you are kicked out of the system, you may need to go through the whole application process again.
Talk to a Hampton Social Security Disability Lawyer Today for Free
If you have worked for many years and you are now disabled, SSD should be your right as an American citizen. At John Foy & Associates, we can help you pursue the benefits needed to pay your living expenses, put food on the table, and support yourself and your family.
We have been helping disabled individuals get the money they need to support themselves (and their families) after becoming unable to work. We’re also happy to not take any fees unless we win your case. It’s risk-free to work with us and to contact us. The consultation is FREE.
404-400-4000 or complete a Free Case Evaluation form