It’s not easy to get approved for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits in Duluth. There’s a good chance your application will be rejected even if you have a severe disability and a long work history. 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.
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 more than 20 years, we have been working to get SSD benefits for our clients. We know the kind 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. Call us at 404-400-4000 and get your free consultation today.
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 because of a medical condition. Monthly SSD benefits can help you pay for your home, food, utilities, car and other expenses.
There are three important things to know about the SSD program:
- It is not a handout. SSD benefits come from the same program that provides Social Security payments when you retire. You earned these benefits by working and paying Social Security taxes. If you can’t work anymore, you have a right to SSD.
- Any type of 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 must have worked regularly over the past 10 years. However, you can qualify even if you were unemployed for part of that time, or 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, SSI.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for overseeing the SSD program and evaluating applications. Unfortunately, many applicants in the City of Duluth are turned down for benefits, even with a legitimate disability. A lawyer can greatly increase your chances of getting approved for benefits quickly.
Do I qualify for SSD benefits in Duluth?
The basic rule is simple: if you worked in the past 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 prove these things:
- You have a doctor’s diagnosis of a medical condition
- Your condition is expected to last at least a year, or it is terminal
- Because of your condition, you cannot do your job
- You also cannot do any other type of work you would be qualified for
- 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 20 of your work credits were earned in the last 10 years
- If you do not have enough work credits, you have a low income
Disabled workers usually meet these conditions, but it can be hard to assemble the right kind of evidence to prove your case to the SSA.
How do I know if my condition is considered a “disability”?
A disability is any 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 is a doctor’s diagnosis. These conditions include some cancers and kidney failure.
All other conditions fall into a “gray area.” Sometimes they are serious enough 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 such as multiple sclerosis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia
- 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 isn’t on the list but still prevents you from working. But you may have to submit even more documentation to show the SSA that your condition is severe enough to count as a disability.
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.
There is actually more than one opportunity to appeal, and eventually your case will be decided by a judge instead of an SSA employee. Judges tend to understand the law better and may be more sympathetic to your case than a government employee. But 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.
Talk to a Duluth Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
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 at 404-400-4000 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.