If you need Social Security disability benefits in Columbus, GA you need to have the right lawyer representing you. Every lawyer focuses on a different kind of law, and not all are well versed in disability cases. Many lawyers will take on these cases with only a passing familiarity—and fail to get you the benefits you need. A good lawyer can be the difference between winning your case and losing it.
John Foy & Associates is one of the most experienced Social Security disability law firms in the Columbus area. We have been in practice for over 20 years, always representing individuals who are in pain and need assistance. Our disability attorneys are dedicated to their practice and routinely guide clients through the complex Social Security system. We offer a free consultation to discuss your case and help you decide the right next steps for you. Call us at 706-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
What is Social Security Disability?
Social Security disability benefits are a form of safety net that the US government gives disabled workers. Under the Social Security Act, if you develop a disability that prevents you from working a job, you are entitled to benefits to help pay your bills and take care of your family. This is true regardless of how the disability came about, or what specific type of disability you have. If you were a worker and can no longer work, you qualify.
Unfortunately it’s not always easy to prove that to the government. The local Social Security Administration office (SSA) has a complicated applications process and often requires detailed documentation to approve your claim. That’s why it’s so important to have a Social Security disability lawyer help you.
How do I know if I qualify for disability benefits?
Many types of disability can qualify, including physical and mental health conditions, but the SSA decides on a case by case basis. They will evaluate your application based on a set of criteria. The main factors they consider are:
- Did you work long enough (earn enough “work credits”) under SSA guidelines?
- Did you work recently enough (at least 20 work credits in the past 10 years)?
- If you did not work enough/recently enough, is your income below the Social Security limit?
- Do you have a diagnosed medical condition?
- Will your medical condition likely last at least a year, or be terminal?
- Are you unable to perform your previous job because of your condition?
- Are you unable to adjust to other work because of your medical condition?
You will be asked to prove these factors on a lengthy application with supporting documentation showing your income, medical diagnosis, and other evidence.
What conditions can qualify as a disability?
Nearly any condition can qualify you as long as it prevents you from working and it can be medically determined. It can involve a mental or physical condition. However, some conditions will have to be explained and justified while others are already recognized as causing disability. If you have a condition on this list, it is much easier to qualify.
The SSA groups these disabling conditions into 14 categories. Examples of disabling conditions include:
- Musculoskeletal problems such as back conditions
- Cardiovascular conditions including heart failure or coronary artery disease
- Sensory and speech issues like low vision and hearing loss
- Respiratory illnesses such as COPD or asthma
- Neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis or epilepsy
- Mental disorders including major depression, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia
- Immune system disorders like lupus and rheumatoid arthritis
- Digestive tract problems like liver disease or IBD
- Kidney disease
Very severe conditions may qualify for a “Compassionate Allowance.” These are conditions so serious that they clearly cause disability without question. They include conditions like liver cancer, kidney failure and Parkinson’s disease.
Most disability applicants don’t have these kinds of conditions. Instead, you find yourself in a limbo. Either the condition you have is not on the list, or it’s on the list but you still have to prove that you cannot work. This is why it’s so important to have a lawyer helping you.
Disability vs. Wrongful Termination
Individuals with disabilities face many roadblocks. One of those is discrimination in the workplace. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) protects all disabled American from being discriminated against in hiring, on the job, or in termination. The ADA is an important piece of legislation protecting disabled workers, but it can create a conflict with Social Security Act benefits.
The conflict is because the two acts define disabilities differently. Under the ADA, you cannot be fired for your disability if you were nonetheless “qualified” to do your job. But to qualify for Social Security disability benefits, you have to prove you are unable to work. For years, it was believed that you could only do one or the other—accepting disability payments meant giving up your right to sue for wrongful termination.
Luckily, the law doesn’t take that view. A 1999 Supreme Court decisions ruled that receiving disability benefits does not disqualify you from making a claim for disability discrimination.
You do not give up any rights by applying for benefits, but claiming the benefits can still complicate your case. Our lawyers can advise you on how to proceed with both a Social Security disability application, and a claim for wrongful termination by a past employer.
What if I have been denied Social Security benefits?
If you have been denied disability benefits, you need to speak to a lawyer right away. You do qualify if you are disabled and cannot work, but the SSA often denies people for unclear reasons. You may have been denied because of an error in your paperwork, lack of medical documentation, or trusting a consultation from an SSA-chosen physician rather than seeing an impartial doctor. None of these denials is fair, and you can fight them.
The SSA offers an appeals process. If you go through it equipped with the right documentation, it’s very likely you will change the decision on your claim and be approved for disability benefits. But the process is complicated, and you need to present a stronger case than you did in your initial application. If you’ve already been denied once, it is more important than ever that you talk to a disability lawyer.
Talk to a Columbus Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
We believe that every disabled person should receive the benefits they deserve. At John Foy & Associates, we have guided countless clients through the process and we know how to get your claim approved. We offer a 100% free consultation, so you get a professional opinion on your claim and make an informed decision.
Don’t miss out on your benefits. Call us at 706-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.