If you have an injury that leaves you unable to work, you should be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. But in Savannah, people with legitimate claims and long work histories are regularly turned down. Sometimes this happens because of a mistake in paperwork or a lack of documentation, but other times the government workers evaluating your application just don’t understand your medical issues. You may spend months filing appeals and waiting for decisions—all with no money coming in. But a Savannah Social Security disability lawyer can help.
At John Foy & Associates, we know how to work with the Social Security system—we’ve been helping people get approved for disability benefits for more than 20 years. We understand the kind of documentation the government is looking for and how to prepare an application and argue your case on appeal. We’d like to give you a free consultation to talk about your SSD application. Call us at 912-574-2287 and get your free consultation today.
What are the rules for Social Security Disability benefits in Savannah?
The federal Social Security Act is best known for its benefits for retirees, but it also includes other programs designed to help people who have worked for a living in the past, but are no longer able to. SSD is one of those programs. You may qualify for SSD if you used to work, but have a medical condition that now prevents you from working. SSD income can be used to pay your monthly bills, buy food and clothing, and pay for your family’s other needs.
Some of the features of the SSD program include:
- It is not a handout. Every time you received a paycheck, money was deducted for Social Security taxes. Those taxes fund Social Security’s retirement plan, but they also provide money to pay for disability payments to people whose health prevents them from working. You are eligible for benefits because you paid into the system.
- It does not matter what kind of disability you have. Your medical condition does not have to have anything to do with your job. If you can’t work, you can qualify.
- Work history is important. To be eligible, you must have paid into the Social Security system by working regularly over the past 10 years. Gaps in employment or part time work won’t necessarily disqualify you. And if you don’t have enough work history to qualify for SSD, you may qualify for a similar program if your income is low enough.
SSD is administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA). When you apply for SSD in the City of Savannah, there’s a good chance the SSA office will deny your application the first time around—even if you clearly have a disability and long work history. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a lawyer help you with your application and appeal.
How do I qualify for SSD benefits in Savannah?
To qualify for benefits, you must show the SSA that you have a long enough work history and that you have a medical condition that prevents you from working. Specifically, your application must demonstrate the following:
- Your medical condition. You will need a doctor’s diagnosis.
- How long your condition is expected to continue. It must be at least a year, unless your condition is terminal.
- That your condition prevents you from returning to your job.
- That your condition keeps you from doing other jobs you might be qualified for.
- Your condition makes it hard to do other possible jobs you might be qualified to do.
- Your work history qualifies you for SSD (you must have enough Social Security “work credits”).
- Your work credits were earned within the last 10 years.
- Your income is low, but you only need to show this if you do not have enough work credits.
Most disabled people can easily meet these criteria, but getting the right documentation to convince the SSA can be difficult.
What makes a condition a “disability”?
Any condition that makes it impossible for you to work should be counted as a disability. But when applying for benefits, it’s not always so easy to show that your condition qualifies.
The SSA has a list of very serious conditions that always count as disabilities. All you need is a doctor’s diagnosis. Examples include end-stage kidney disease and some types of cancer.
But most conditions are what the SSA refers to as “disabling conditions.” The SSA recognizes that these conditions can be serious enough to prevent you from working, but they are not always that severe. For these conditions, you must prove that you have a doctor’s diagnosis AND show why your particular case is serious enough to count as a disability. Disabling conditions might include:
- Heart conditions
- Blindness or low vision
- Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder
- Severe back pain
- Serious asthma
The SSA maintains a full list of conditions here, but you may be able to qualify even if you have a condition that isn’t on the list.
My SSD application was denied. What can I do now?
You can appeal your application. We’ve found that many people actually have a better chance of getting approved on appeal than they did the first time around. That’s because when you filed your original application, you may not have known what the SSA was looking for. But when it is denied, you can identify what the problem was the first time and put together better documentation for your appeal.
In fact, you can appeal your application more than once, and eventually your case will land in front of a judge who may be more sympathetic to your case than the SSA itself. Eventually, however, you will exhaust your appeals and your case will be over. At that point, the only way to get benefits will be to start all over with a new application. To give yourself the best shot at getting benefits as soon as possible, get a lawyer to help you with your application and appeal.
Talk to a Savannah Social Security Disability Lawyer for Free
SSD benefits can help you stay in your home, buy grocers and pay your bills. You paid into the system—don’t give up the right to collect benefits that will sustain you. Let John Foy and Associates sit down with you for a free consultation to discuss your application and the ways we can help. Call us at 912-574-2287 or fill out the form to your right and get your FREE consultation today.