A disabling injury or illness can turn your life upside down, leaving you unable to work and without a source of income while medical and household bills just keep coming. Though you may be eligible for Social Security disability benefits, such as medical care and monthly compensation if a disability prevents you from working, the application process can be lengthy, confusing, and frustrating. Oftentimes, people submit their application and wait for months just to find out their claim has been denied.
At Colin Smith Law, we understand just how difficult it can be to have to deal with bureaucratic red tape when you desperately need the security and stability these benefits can provide. We have helped countless clients navigate the Social Security disability application and appeal processes to obtain the benefits they need and deserve. If you're thinking of applying for Social Security disability benefits or were notified that your claim was denied, we may be able to help you, too. Here's what you need to know.
Social Security Disability Eligibility
The Social Security Administration (SSA) issues disability benefits through two different programs: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSDI is for people who've worked at least five of the past ten years and have paid into the Social Security system, while SSI is for low-income individuals who have not. If you've had an accident and can no longer work due to your injuries or were diagnosed with a serious illness, you will likely be applying for SSDI.
To be eligible for benefits you must be under the age of 65 and have a physical or mental disability that prevents you from engaging in substantial gainful activity that is expected to last at least a year or likely result in death. Examples of qualifying conditions found in the SSA's Listing of Impairments, also known as the Blue Book, include:
- Heart disease
- Muscle and bone disorders
- Vision or hearing loss
- Multiple sclerosis
- Liver or kidney disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Parkinson's disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Additionally, just because your condition isn't in the Blue Book doesn't mean you won't qualify. You may be eligible for SSDI benefits if you can show that the severity of your condition is equal to those in the Listing of Impairments. This can often be accomplished with comprehensive medical documentation and the help of an experienced attorney.
Common Reasons Social Security Disability Claims Are Denied
Up to 75 percent of first-time SSDI applications are denied. Common reasons include:
- Insufficient medical evidence. Not only should your medical records thoroughly document your condition, they should also include information on how the injury or illness affects your daily life and ability to work.
- Failure to follow treatment. If you fail to follow your doctor's treatment plan, the people processing your claim may be unable to determine if the severity of your condition is due to the condition itself or your unwillingness to follow prescribed treatment.
- Application errors. Simple mistakes on your application paperwork or missing filing deadlines can have a devastating effect on your claim.
- Refusal to cooperate with the SSA. Your claim may be denied if you miss appointments, fail to provide requested documentation in a timely manner, or refuse to release your medical records.
- Previous denials. After a denial, people often submit a new application rather than going through the appeals process. This can be a mistake.
How We Can Help
Don't let a simple mistake result in a denial that puts you back at square one. Working with an experienced disability attorney increases the chances of having your application accepted, or your denial successfully appealed. We can help you prepare and submit your application, work with your medical providers to ensure thorough documentation of your disability, appeal a denial, and make sure the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Consult Our Knowledgeable Social Security Disability Attorney
At Colin Smith Law, we bring a unique perspective to our Social Security Disability cases. Having spent years struggling with hearing loss caused by spinal meningitis, Colin Smith was able to regain his hearing thanks to a cochlear implant. He intimately understands the challenges of living with a disability and puts this firsthand knowledge to use when representing clients. Unable to work due to a disability? Hire us to represent you and enjoy compassionate, respectful, and personalized legal services. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case consultation.