Talk with Our Social Security Disability Lawyers
Our SSDI lawyers at our Norristown and Doylestown law offices are here to help you get the benefits you deserve.
Our SSDI lawyers understand that Social Security Disability is not a hand-out. These are benefits that have been earned. If you are unable to work and applied for Social Security disability benefits and were denied, do not be discouraged. In fact, as many as 65 percent of all first-time claims are not approved. By law, you are eligible for disability benefits if you have worked the minimum number of years based on your age and:
- You can no longer perform the work you had been doing for medical reasons.
- Your condition prevents you from doing other types of work.
- You suffer total disability resulting from a medical condition that is expected to last at least one year.
Being denied SSD benefits is frustrating and can cause extreme economic hardships for you and your family. You can trust our SSDI lawyers will file accurate first-time claims. Our law firm routinely represents clients in Bucks County and Montgomery County, as well as throughout southeastern Pennsylvania in appeals. You have earned the right to benefits. We help you get them.
What is the difference between SSDI and SSI benefits?
To qualify for SSDI you must have “work credits” meaning that you’ve paid into Social Security from wages earned. One work credit is equal to $1,410 in 2020. You can earn up to 4 work credits per year.
The general rule is that if you are 31 years old, you must have earned 40 work credits, with 20 of those credits being earned in the ten years ending in the year you became disabled. The number of work credits required may be less for younger individuals.
SSDI monthly benefit payments start the 6th full month after the date you became disabled. Eligibility for Medicare benefits begins 24-months from when disability payments begin. SSDI monthly payment amounts are based on your past earnings.
SSI benefits are intended for persons age 65+, blind or disabled that have limited income and resources and do not have the work credits necessary to qualify for SSDI. An individual applying for SSI can have no more than $2,000.00 in assets. If you are married, your family asset limit is $3,000.00.
You may have one car and your home which are not counted toward the $2,000.00 asset limit. Assets include cash, check and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, retirement funds, some personal property and real estate other than your home.
Unearned income such as VA benefits, child support, alimony and your spouse’s income are also considered for SSI eligibility. If an individual receives $803.00 or more per month they are not entitled to SSI benefits. A couple is not eligible for SSI benefits if they receive $1,195.00 or more per month in unearned income. In-kind income, which include free food, shelter, etc. is also considered when determining SSI eligibility.
Tips for Filing for Social Security Disability Benefits
While having all your documentation in good order does not guarantee a first-time approval, being prepared improves your chances and also helps in the event that your initial claim is denied. Here are good tips for claimants:
Determine your eligibility for SSDI benefits — Eligibility is based on your work history and your medical condition. If you are not yet of full retirement age and you have a total disability that keeps you out of work for at least one year, you may qualify. Disabilities may be physical, cognitive, psychiatric or psychological, but they must be on the list of impairments and conditions recognized by the Social Security Administration.
Do not delay in filing a claim — At the very minimum, there is a five-month waiting period before you are owed disability benefits. However, since the start date is not the date on which you filed but rather the established onset date, you may have to wait even longer. The sooner you file the sooner you may be able to receive benefits.
Get your disability confirmation in writing from your physician — The Social Security Administration requires confirmation of the medical condition that caused your disability. It is imperative that you get records from your doctor to support your claim. You should gather comprehensive medical records to help satisfy the government’s requirements.
Document your work history — Generally, you need to have worked for at least five of the last 10 years to qualify for disability benefits. Your work history is also important in determining if you have any residual functioning capacity (RFC) and what job activities you may or may not be able to accomplish. Your work history should not be just a list of places you have worked — it should include a detailed job description.
Get experienced legal assistance from an experienced SSD lawyer — Similar to workers’ compensation, filing a claim for Social Security Disability is seldom as simple and straightforward as you would hope. Missed deadlines or inaccuracies in documentation can lead to delays or denials of benefits. When you and your family are depending on the money from Social Security disability, waiting even a few more days can be critical. With four decades of experience helping people get the benefits to which they are entitled, our law firm knows how to move your claim along as quickly as possible.
Even if you have been denied initially, don’t give up — As disheartening as it may be, remember that it is not unusual for a claim to be denied. You can appeal your claim within 60 days — and with help from our lawyers, you have a better chance of prevailing. The appeals process in Pennsylvania starts with a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) during which you and a vocational expert are questioned and any new medical evidence is examined. If the ALJ still denies your claim, we can take your case to the Appeals Council, which has the option to reverse the judge’s decision, order a second hearing or issue another denial.
If necessary, our SSDI lawyers will continue your appeal by filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court.