Social Security Disability Insurance Attorney in Nashville, TN
Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) are two federal programs put in place to provide help to those with disabilities in America. The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays SSDI benefits to you and some of your family members if you have insurance, while SSI benefits are paid based solely on financial need.
To qualify for SSA insurance, you must have worked for at least five of the last 10 years and consistently paid taxes for Social Security. If this doesn’t sound like you, you may still qualify for SSI if you can prove enough of a financial need. Your assets cannot exceed $2,000 if you’re single and $3,000 if you’re married. You also need to have total disability – not partial or short-term disability – to qualify for SSI benefits. Contact the social security disability lawyers at our Tennessee law firm for a free case consultation with our experienced SSDI attorneys.
Am I Eligible for SSDI?
To be eligible for SSDI, you first have to prove that you suffer from a permanent disability that prevents you from ever returning to work. You can prove this by seeing a medical practitioner and showing documentation of your injuries to SSDI representatives.
Then, your monthly income earned from work must not exceed the state limit. Finally, you must have paid Social Security taxes for a certain number of years (usually five in the last 10) to the SSA.
If you think you qualify for all three of these stipulations, you may be eligible for SSDI. You must pass recent work and duration of work tests to be eligible for SSDI. Non U.S.-citizens can qualify for SSDI if they are permanent residents and some alien residents can if they lawfully reside in the country.
If your disability improves over time and you wish to return to work, you can use the SSDI trial work period to see if your return to work is possible. If your disabilities still limit you too much to work, you can try again later. During the trial work period, a person receiving social security disability benefits can have unlimited income from work and still receive full benefits. There is no risk of termination, since the government wants to encourage people receiving SSDI to try to return to work.
How Much SSDI Will I Receive in Tennessee?
The SSDI program doesn’t limit the amount of unearned income you can have per month (such as SSI or other benefit programs), but it does limit the amount of money you earn through work. If you can earn an income, you aren’t considered disabled. If you are eligible to receive monthly SSDI benefits, the average amount for payments is $1,166 per month in 2016.
Your specific monthly SSDI benefit amount will vary based on your current income (from earned wages) as well as your needs. If you’re the sole provider for dependents, the SSA may increase your award. Speak to a Tennessee SSDI lawyer to learn more about your individual SSDI case and get a professional estimate about how much you might receive in benefits. If you apply for benefits online and are turned down, you can issue an appeal.
Why Would Your SSDI Benefits be Denied?
Each claim submitted for SSDI benefits is different. However, there are some common reasons why claims get rejected. It is important to keep in mind that just because a claim is denied does not necessarily mean that the individual failed to qualify for benefits. There are many legitimate claims that are not initially approved by the Social Security Administration.
Lack of medical evidence. If there is a lack of medical evidence related to the disability, then the SSA is more likely to deny the claim. Many applicants face a denial because of a lack of medical documentation related to their disability. It is crucial to have all of your medical records organized before submitting your initial application.
Previous denials. Some people make the mistake of simply filing a new application after they have been denied for SSDI benefits period this is a mistake. Individuals must go through the official appeals process rather than file a completely new application. New applications without adjustment are likely to result in the same cause of denial as it is.
Earnings are too high. SSDI benefits are designed for individuals who are unable to work. Period If a person continues to work and is able to earn money, this would likely make them ineligible for any benefits. Individuals are only allowed to earn very limited wages while receiving SSDI benefits. Additionally, being able to work is evidence that a person is not too disabled to work in the first place.
Failing to follow a medical advice. Individuals are required to follow their doctor’s advice for treatments and care related to their disability. Failing to follow this advice could result in a denial, as could any gaps in medical treatment. An SSA examiner could argue that it is not possible to determine whether or not a person is disabled if they refuse to undergo the required treatment.
Failing to cooperate. If individuals ignore requests for additional information put forward by the SSA or if they fail to cooperate during any part of the SSA application process, the claim for SSDI benefits will likely be denied.
These are not the only reasons for denial, but they are some of the most common. In order to avoid receiving an SSDI benefits application denial, it is crucial for applicants to work with a skilled attorney who has experience handling these issues. The SSA is very specific about what it needs related to SSDI claims, and they do have a very high denial rate, at least for initial applications. When you work with an attorney, you will be in a better position to have your claim accepted the first time.
However, there are no guarantees, and having a lawyer for the denial appeal is also beneficial.
What to Do If Your SSDI Benefits Are Denied
If an SSDI benefits application is denied, there will need to be an appeal. Please remember that this is the only way to move forward with a claim after it has been denied. Do not file a new claim altogether. Additionally, it is important not to give up after an initial claim denial. Appeals are often successful, particularly when individuals adjust their approach and obtain the appropriate information the SSA needs.
The first step is to file a “request for reconsideration” with the Social Security Administration. What this does is essentially gives the same paperwork that you initially presented to the SSA to another SSA representative for consideration. There can be additional or new information added at this point in the process, but this does put another set of eyes on the documents.
It is crucial to have an attorney with you at this point because they can help file the appeal. Sometimes, having a legal assistant reorganize the facts of your particular case can help get the claim through when it is reconsidered.
Along with the medical evidence you have gathered, an attorney may suggest submitting a Residual Function Capacity (RFC) form. This is a form filled out by a doctor that helps demonstrate that you are unable to work. The doctor will describe your condition, the symptoms, and how this has impacted your life. The RFC form is particularly helpful if an individual fails to meet an SSA Blue Book listing for their disability.
A claim may have to go to a disability hearing, where an administrative law judge will hear an explanation about why you should receive SSDI. These hearings could include a medical expert who will ask questions and then advise the administrative law judge regarding the medical and vocational issues associated with your condition, and they can also advise the judge about types of work you may still be able to perform.
At the hearing, you are also allowed to bring witnesses, which your lawyer can advise you about. You will be able to present any new evidence or changes to your condition that could have occurred between the time of your initial application and the time of the hearing. If the denial of the claim is upheld by the administrative law judge, then the decision will go to an Appeals Council.
This will consist of administrative law judges who were not part of your initial case. The Appeals Council will not hear any new evidence. Their goal is to make sure that the administrative law judge from the initial appeal followed the correct procedures in rendering their decision.
SSDI or SSI
The only way to receive SSDI benefits is to actually be insured under the SSDI program. A person is insured if they have enough work history and have paid payroll taxes over the years. The SSA keeps track of how many work credits an individual has. This is like paying premiums towards insurance, but in this case, the insurance is SSDI.
If individuals meet the criteria of being disabled but do not have enough work credits to secure SSDI benefits, they may be able to receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI). Individuals can receive SSI if they can show financial need and meet specific SSI criteria. The financial criteria for this type of assistance relate to having a low income and minimal resources. To receive SSI, individuals have to show proof of income and proof of any resources they currently have, including bank statements, property deeds, car titles, etc.
Individuals could qualify for both SSI and SSDI at the same time. If individuals qualify for SSDI based on their work history and credits, but the SSDI benefits are not enough to surpass the low-income levels for SSI benefits, then the SSI can supplement the SSDI income.
Collecting Social Security Disability Benefits in Nashville, TN
You have the right to legal representation during your SSDI application and appeal processes. Social Security works with our attorneys so you don’t have to pay lawyer fees without written consent from the SSA. Although the process to attain SSDI benefits is daunting, a practiced attorney by your side can make the disability claims process much easier.
Contact our Nashville social security disability lawyers today to discuss our previous SSDI appeal cases and lawsuits. We can give you expert advice on the steps to take toward applying, appealing, and reapplying for SSDI benefits. Our skilled Nashville injury attorneys will meet with you before your hearing to prep you for the process and ensure you feel confident in front of a judge.
“Jonathan handled my case in a warm but professional fashion. He was very capable, compassionate, and did an excellent job. I could not have asked for a better attorney!” – Sally W.