By: Cheyenne Moeller Meek
When you’re injured or become disabled, continuing to work a regular job to support your family can become complicated. Social Security Disability benefits are designed to help, but navigating the process after the initial application can be overwhelming.
Unfortunately, most initial applications are denied. Thankfully, you can appeal the decision. With a skilled Social Security Disability attorney at your side, your chances of receiving approval in the appeals process become much better.
Who Is Eligible For Social Security Disability Benefits?
The Social Security Administration (SSA) outlines specific requirements for individuals seeking Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. These requirements cover two main points:
A previous position you worked in must be covered by Social Security.
Your medical condition must check the boxes of Social Security’s disability definitions.
So, what does this mean for you? In order to meet the requirement, you must have worked long enough in a qualifying job position. This particular requirement revolves around the SSA’s concept of work credits, which hinge on your annual income. You can earn a maximum of four credits per year, and you need 40 credits to qualify for SSDI benefits. Also you must have earned at least 20 of these credits in the previous decade.
These requirements are slightly different for younger individuals, as younger persons may not have had time to accrue these credits and, therefore, may be able to qualify with fewer credits.
The second requirement stems from the SSA’s disability definition, which is divided into five criteria:
- Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA): Your disability must prevent you from engaging in SGA. The SSA examines your earnings using specific guidelines to see if your earnings bracket qualifies you for benefits.
- Condition severity: The SSA stipulates your condition must be severe enough to considerably restrict your working ability, including lifting, walking, standing, sitting, or remembering details, for at least one year.
- Qualifying medical conditions: The SSA outlines specific qualifying medical conditions in its list, so your condition should appear on this list to be eligible for benefits. However, the SSA will evaluate the situation if it doesn’t appear on the list to determine whether it qualifies.
- Previous work: The SSA will evaluate your medical condition to determine whether it prevents you from performing your past work. If it doesn’t, the SSA will decide you don’t have a qualifying disability, but if it does, the final question applies.
- Alternative work: If you cannot do your previous work, the SSA will determine whether you could work in other positions despite your medical condition. If you could do other types of work, the SSA will decide you don’t have a qualifying disability, and your claim will be denied.
What Happens If You’re Denied SSD Benefits?
If your SSDI application is denied, you will receive a denial notice. The notice will include various pieces of information, including details of appeal rights, as well as a specific deadline to file the appeal.
Although it may seem like you don’t have any options, a skilled attorney can help. After receiving your decision letter, you only have 60 days to file an appeal. Requesting a reconsideration or hearing as soon as you receive the denial notice is essential to avoid unnecessary delays that could impact the appeal process.
While the criteria at the hearing level mirror those of the application process, your chances of qualifying are substantially better with a representative at your side. Your attorney can help communicate the circumstances surrounding your condition to ensure the best results.
The stress can feel overwhelming if you received a denial letter regarding your SSDI application. You may not know what to do or where to turn, feeling as though you’re stuck without any options. This is where our skilled team of attorneys comes in.
With decades of combined legal experience, our attorneys at Saunders and Chabert are prepared to help you secure the benefits you need. Remember, the time to act is now, as you only have 60 days to file an appeal after receiving the denial letter. To get started with a free consultation, call (225) 771-8100 or fill out our contact form today.