If you’re disabled, can’t work, and previously paid into the Social Security system for five out of the past 10 years, you may have questions about Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI). This program, administered by Social Security Administration (SSA), supports the worker when he or she can’t earn income because of disability. Both employers and employees must contribute to the program by paying FICA taxes. These Social Security taxes are withheld from current earnings so that employees pay into the Social Security system.
In theory, every person who becomes disabled is eligible to receive SSDI benefits if he or she paid FICA in the past. In reality, the disabled worker must demonstrate:
• Inability to perform work or become retrained to do another kind of work
• Perform Significant or Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA)
Age, education level, and current physical and/or mental capacity are also factored into SSA’s assessment of your disability. A Memphis SSDI attorney can help you prepare the SSDI application and guide you through the process.
Let’s review frequently asked questions about SSDI in the next sections.
How do I qualify for SSDI?
If you haven’t celebrated your 50th birthday and you’re disabled, SSA reviews your work history and FICA tax contributions. If you worked at least five years out of the last 10, you’ve met the first qualification for SSDI. In addition:
• Submit your SSDI application as soon as the doctor believes your condition will persist at least 12 months or end in death.
• Let SSA know you intend to file for SSDI because, if you don’t complete the application now, you preserve the “protective filing date.”
• File an “Intent to Claim” form with SSA. If you submit an SSDI claim and SSA approves it, your Intent to Claim form can help you receive SSDI backpay. Backpay is paid as a lump sum when your SSDI benefits start.
What process is required for me to apply for SSDI?
The SSDI application is lengthy. If you’re disabled, filling out the application and providing SSA with supporting documentation can be challenging. About two-thirds of all SSDI first-time applications get rejected. Some applicants assume the first request for SSDI will be denied. They consider hiring an SSDI attorney only after they’re rejected a first time:
• SSA allows you to have an attorney and most SSDI attorneys work on contingency. They’re paid only if and when you receive SSDI. (There’s also a modest maximum cap that SSA imposes on SSDI attorneys.) If can make sense to hire a Memphis SSDI lawyer if you’re located in the Mid-South.
• If you’ve filed for SSDI and received a rejection, you must now file an appeal (SSA “Request for Reconsideration). SSA will review the evidence and any new evidence to rule on the case in a hearing.
• Many who’ve appealed a first SSDI rejection say “Don’t go it alone.” Reach out to an SSDI attorney and allow him or her to help you present the medical record and supporting documents.
• Plan to present a chart with names and contacts of medical providers involved in your case.
• Present information about medical appointments (when and how often you’re required to see doctors, hospitals, and clinics) to SSA.
• Prepare a timeline that shows when your disability and/or multiple mental health-medical issues began.
What’s an Administrative Law Judge Review?
It’s possible to lose your SSA appeal for SSDI benefits. If that happens, you can request a disability hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ is an SSA presentative.
In a hearing, explain or offer:
• Why you need SSDI benefits
• Doctors and others’ testimony about your medical-mental condition
An ALJ won’t solely rely upon your written medical records at an administrative hearing. If your request for SSDI benefits is denied again, you can take your case to SSA Appeals Council. If you don’t have an SSDI attorney, consider engaging one now.
What happens at the SSA Appeals Council?
SSA Appeals Council reviews your request for SSDI benefits again. It reviews facts and ensures the ALJ considered all the evidence presented at the last hearing as required by law. If SSA Appeals Council believes the ALJ should look at the case again, it returns your case file for review or even decides to overturn the prior decision from the ALJ hearing.
If my SSDI request for benefits is denied, what happens next?
You must present the case to a Federal court review. Very few applicants decide to take this step. If you do, an SSDI lawyer can help to prepare and present the case.
SSA says that many denied claims are accepted in a federal court hearing. Since it’s extremely important to make the best case, it’s up to you to present the case on your own or hire an SSDI lawyer in Memphis.
What if I don’t live in the city and need to work with an SSDI attorney at a distance?
Hiring a Social Security disability law firm can help you overcome obstacles if you’re applying for SSDI or you’ve been denied in the past. SSA says you may hire an attorney at any time during the SSDI application process. Some people feel their approval chances increase if they engage an attorney with SSDI experience at the start.
If you live in Memphis or throughout the Mid-South, it’s easy to engage a Social Security disability lawyer. GKBM is a Social Security disability law firm with offices in Memphis and Holly Springs, MS.