When a person is diagnosed with a disability, life becomes much harder and it may be difficult to get work, so financial instability takes place. This is why Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits for individuals with disabilities are an important provision offered to eligible individuals.
The key challenge that someone with a disability often faces when trying to access SSDI benefits includes their application being rejected because the victim doesn’t provide enough evidence to prove that the disability is serious enough for eligibility for SSDI. It is important to seek help from a disability lawyer before submitting a disability benefits application or filing an appeal. The success rates of Social Security disability lawyers are high enough to consider taking up this free service.
Understanding SSDI Benefits
To qualify for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits, you must have a medical condition that meets the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) strict definition of disability, and you must’ve worked for long enough—and recently enough—to qualify for Social Security disability benefits and have accumulated sufficient work credits. The number of work credits you specifically will need to qualify for disability benefits depends on your age—more specifically how old you were when your disability began.
Typically, you will need at least 40 credits, 20 of which were earned in the last 10 years ending with the year your disability begins. The amount required for a work credit changes each year. In 2023 you earn 1 credit for each $1,640 in wages or self-employment income. When you have earned $6,560 you will have earned the maximum 4 credits for that year.
When filing an application for disability benefits you should provide a comprehensive and well-documented application. If you don’t, you risk the chance of your application being denied.
Disability Lawyers 101: What They Do and How Much They Cost
A disability lawyer knows how to navigate the application requirements. A lawyer can help with:
- evaluating your case;
- reviewing your medical records;
- contacting your medical providers;
- requesting copies of your medical records;
- completing and double-checking your disability application for accuracy;
- preparing documentation if your application is denied and you wish to lodge an appeal;
- representing you case if your appeal is denied.
A disability lawyer is paid on a contingency arrangement, or only when a claim is approved. The fees are paid when the claimant receives back pay which is owed for the months between the start of a disability and the start of disability coverage. The government limits how much a disability lawyer may charge a client. The lawyer will receive either up to 25% of a client’s back pay or $7,200, whichever is the lowest amount.
The SSA will deduct the amount from the back pay and send it directly to your attorney.
For example, if the SSA approved $21,000 in back pay, your lawyer could receive 25% of that amount. The government will deduct $5,250 from your back pay to the lawyer, and you should then receive $15,750.
Your lawyer may also charge you for out-of-pocket expenses, such as fees for accessing copies of your medical records or vehicle mileage.
The Crucial Role of a Disability Lawyer
When you are choosing a disability lawyer to help you with your disability benefits claim you should check your chosen lawyer’s current law license. A disability attorney must be licensed to practice law in at least one state. You can check your chosen attorney’s license with the American Bar Association. It will be helpful for you if you choose a lawyer who has experience with your type of medical condition which has caused your disability. A sign of a good disability lawyer is the eagerness to know more about your case before deciding to take the lawyer on. The lawyer should also ask questions about your work history and medical diagnoses before agreeing to be your attorney.
A disability lawyer specializes in navigating complex legal processes and regulations. This includes extensive knowledge of the requirements to access disability benefits. Also, the legal processes when helping claimants navigate the appeals process when an application for disability benefits is denied. Providing the right medical evidence is crucial to the success of a disability benefits application.
Not only does a disability benefits lawyer have a lot of experience in winning disability benefits for clients, personalized guidance offers peace of mind for clients as well.
Maximizing Your Chances with a Disability Lawyer
A disability lawyer can help improve the strength of your case by helping you with the following:
- gathering relevant medical evidence and documentation including a doctor’s report describing treatment programs and recent outcomes and the results of the most recent medical tests;
- ensuring accurate completion of forms and paperwork before the application for disability benefits is submitted;
- crafting a compelling argument for disability benefits based on medical records and testimonies.
Lawyers are used to representing clients when navigating legal processes and when it comes to activating the appeal’s process when a disability benefits application is denied they know all the procedures involved in the appeal’s process.
Benefits of an Early Involvement of a Disability Lawyer
The benefits of involving a disability lawyer from the beginning of the disability benefits application process include the following:
- avoids the common mistakes that can lead to delays or denials such a failing to provide sufficient medical evidence that supports a disability benefits application;
- establishes a strong foundation for the case from the start.
A recent study by the Government Accountability Office revealed that a disability benefits claimant working with a disability lawyer was three times more likely to succeed with their claim than those who don’t work with a lawyer.
Navigating the Appeals Process
The different stages of the appeals process for SSDI benefits are the following:
- Reconsideration which is when your request for SSDI benefits is denied and you have 60 days to initiate the appeals process by filing a request for reconsideration with the Disability Determination Services (DDS) department.
- Hearing before an Administrative Law Judge takes place if your reconsideration is denied.
- If the ALJ denies your claim you can file an appeal with the Appeals Council.
- A Federal Court review is the last option available for winning your SSDI claim.
How a Disability Lawyer Can Guide Applicants Through the Appeals Process
If you don’t feel comfortable representing yourself at any stage of the appeal’s process you should seek help from a disability attorney who can help you prepare the documentation and represent you throughout the process. The attorney can help you win your appeal so that you will be more financially secure while you have to suffer with your disability.
83% of people have disability benefits attorney at their appeal’s hearing and studies show you are three times more likely to win your benefits appeal with the help of a lawyer.
There are concerns and misconceptions about hiring a disability benefits attorney. However, there is evidence to show that disability lawyers have a positive impact on SSDI cases as shown by a survey where 60 percent are approved with a lawyer and 34 percent are approved without the help of a lawyer.
Comparing Success Rates
The following examples provide a comparison of SSDI approval rates with and without the involvement of a disability lawyer.
- A 58-year-old male construction worker who was injured at work but won his case before an administrative law judge (ALJ) with the help of a lawyer. He was awarded all benefits.
- A 49-year-old single mother of two children who, despite suffering from fibromyalgia, diabetes, and high blood pressure, was initially denied Social Security disability benefits by the SSA. However, when she appealed the SSA’s initial decision with the help of a disability lawyer, she ended up winning her case and was granted all the benefits that she was entitled to.
- A 47-year-old nurse was initially represented by a non-attorney and subsequently denied at the hearing level of her disability case. Her case was then abandoned until a family member decided to hire a disability lawyer to help the nurse with her appeal. Her case was won in front of the same judge that prompted the original denial. Her back pay resulted in an award of more than $94,000.
When to Hire a Disability Lawyer
If you think you may encounter difficulties with completing the requirements for SSDI benefits this is the time to consider hiring a disability benefits attorney who can assist you with your SSDI application and appeal process if your initial application is denied. You don’t have to worry about the costs as their fees are capped by federal law and you only need to pay once your disability benefits application has been approved.
Evidence shows that working/collaborating with a disability lawyer significantly increases the chances of obtaining SSDI benefits. You should consult with a disability lawyer to navigate the complex SSDI application and appeals process effectively.
Complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page right now to get connected with an independent disability attorney who can help you today—all at zero cost to you.