If you’ve suffered physically or mentally and cannot work for at least a year because of your physical disability (or mental illness), you may be eligible to receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration. Even if you have not worked enough to qualify for benefits (or if you have not worked at all), you still may be eligible to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Some benefits applicants find that they have a difficult time pursuing SSDI or SSI. This is just one reason why common advice dictates that you should partner with a Social Security Disability attorney. When you work with a lawyer, he or she can help you navigate the applications and appeals processes as they come.
Defining disability according to the Social Security Administration
The Social Security Administration formally defines disability as:
“The inability to engage in any substantial gainful employment by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has later (or can be expected to last) a continuous period of not less than 12 months.
The Two Types of Disability Benefits: SSDI and SSI
There are two forms of disability benefits: Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Social Security Disability Insurance is available to “insured” workers. Employees become insured once they have worked for a certain length of time and paid their Social Security taxes. SSDI pays benefits to both the intended recipient and, when applicable, certain members of the recipient’s family.
- SSDI provides monthly income benefits; they are based on the number of years that you have spent paying Social Security taxes
Social Security Income is usually considered a little easier to understand for the layperson. SSI pays out benefits based on financial need.
- You do not need to have paid into the Social Security system (or even had a job) to apply for and receive SSI benefits
- There are income-eligibility restrictions
People who receive SSI can also apply for Medical Assistance (or MA). You are not automatically eligible for MA just because you receive SSI.
Your Benefits Application
We recommend that you apply for disability benefits as soon as you become disabled. This allows you the maximum amount of time to receive benefits and to fight for your rights to SSI or SSDI if you are denied.
Applicants can fill out their application forms in one of two ways:
- Online via the Social Security website
- In-person using a form found on the Social Security website and returning it to your local Social Security office
Social Security Disability applications may take some time to process– we usually advise clients to be prepared to wait around five months for an answer.
How will a Social Security Disability attorney help with my benefits application?
We usually advise to partner with an attorney early on in the application process. Sometimes, it just helps to have an objective (and trained) eye to help with the particulars of documentation.
Your lawyer should also help during the application stage by:
- Helping you gather and share medical records
- Whether you’ve been helped by one medical professional or twenty, it’s important that the Social Security Administration knows what care you’ve received and what doctors have said about your condition
- Your lawyer will help you gather and share your medical records with the Social Security Administration
- Working to gather and supply evidence
- Most attorneys today have the capability to submit evidence electronically; ask your lawyer if he or she can scan your documents and send them via the Internet for quick processing
How Will My Social Security Disability Claim Be Evaluated?
You should know that your benefits application will be scrutinized closely by the Social Security Administration (SSA). It’s crucial to complete your application fully and truthfully.
The first level of evaluation for your claim will involve the basics:
- You cannot be gainfully employed (and it must be due to severe impairment)
- You must demonstrate your injury’s severity and how it prevents you from performing previous work duties (or other work at a gainful level)
If your claim for benefits is denied, you shouldn’t worry right away. The Social Security Administration actually denies over 70% of the initial applications it receives for benefits– and the statistics show that if you work with a lawyer, you’re more likely to have your claim accepted.
- If your claim is denied, your attorney can help represent you before a Social Security Administration judge or referee
- Some claims are denied in the hearing stage, too; if this happens, your lawyer should appeal it to the Appeals Council
Do My Injuries Qualify Me For Social Security Disability Benefits?
The only way to know for certain whether you qualify is to submit an application and wait. Before that point, though, a skilled SSD lawyer can also help you fine-tune your application and improve your likelihood of receiving aid.
Plenty of injuries can qualify a person for SSD benefits. A lot of factors influence how much an injury impacts a person (and their ability to learn a living), so there are a lot of injuries that can prompt employees to submit SSD applications.
Some examples of common injuries that SSD lawyers help their clients pursue benefits for include:
- Back, neck, and spinal cord injuries
- Orthopedic injuries
- Chronic pain
- Mental health conditions
Harvey & Carpenter, Attorneys at Law: Serving Minnesotans With Questions About Social Security Disability
At Harvey & Carpenter, our team of skilled attorneys is well-prepared to assist clients with a range of social security disability questions and cases. It’s hard enough to go back-and-forth with huge entities like the SSA– you don’t need to face the challenge alone when you’re out of work, too. We can help.
Reach out to us today to ask a legal professional about:
- Filling out your application
- Social security benefits
- The SSI process
- SSDI vs. SSI
We can also help you determine whether you’re eligible for disability benefits. Our lawyers are available to review your medical and work history to help determine when you should submit your application.