Philadelphia Disability (SSDI) Lawyer
You need committed and experienced Philadelphia disability attorneys throughout the process of your Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) application. If you are temporarily or permanently disabled in Philadelphia and you don’t have private long-term insurance, your best option is applying for SSDI.
While some people expect this process to move along quickly and fairly, most SSDI applicants find that this process can be extenuating and confusing. Meritorious applications are frequently denied because the legal requirements are not evident to Social Security claims examiners. With the assistance of a skilled team of attorneys, you can avoid a lengthy and convoluted SSDI application and appellate process.
If you or someone you know is applying for or has been denied a social security disability application in Philadelphia, you should contact the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates. Whether the SSDI is intended for you, your child, or your spouse, it’s likely you’re experiencing a tough time making ends meet due to the disability.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has internal methods of evaluating applications that the experienced team at Young, Marr & Associates understands in depth. Some of our lawyers used to work there and they understand what you’re going through. Call (215) 515-2954 to schedule a free and private consultation today.
Overview of Social Security Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania
Social Security disability benefits consist of monthly payments that help support a person who has become too disabled to work. While Pennsylvania doesn’t have state-funded disability programs, people with a disabling condition can be eligible to apply for:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Social Security Disability Insurance
There are fundamental differences between these two programs. Your attorney can help clarify your options and determine which is more suitable depending on your circumstances.
How Long It Takes for SSDI Applications to be Approved
Generally, it takes time and effort for approval of Social Security Disability benefits. Don’t be surprised if your application is denied initially; SSDI claims are frequently rejected at first. With the help of an experienced attorney, you can navigate through the process successfully and avoid lengthy questioning about your medical documentation. Depending on your condition, there are results and medical tests that carry more weight than others. When you fail to provide the types of documentation needed, your application may be rejected.
Unlike most government applications, the SSDI application process has multiple levels of reconsideration and appellate review. Since every case is decided based on the specific circumstances of the individual, you can’t make conclusions based on what you hear from other people. An experienced attorney can give you a more definite sense of your case.
Your attorney can also advocate for what is known as a “compassionate allowance condition” and request a fast-track review of your application. People eligible for this exception must have a serious condition warranting this exception.
Review Process for a Social Security Disability Benefits Application
When you review SSDI application requirements, the amount of medical information requested is typically overwhelming. A qualified attorney can guide you through this process effectively. The landmark Supreme Court decision Sullivan v. Zabel (1990) enunciated the legal standard for evaluating Social Security disability claims. Accordingly, your Social Security disability application typically goes through a detailed review that must meet the following five conditions:
“Substantial Gainful Activity”
Usually, you cannot be employed, and your income cannot exceed certain guidelines. Your application should provide your current sources of income, bank statements, and other financial information explaining how you have supported yourself since the onset of the disability. As of 2019, if your monthly income exceeds $1,220, your application may be unsuccessful. Your attorney can explain this requirement in greater detail.
Having an Impairment that Disables You from Working
The symptoms of your impairment are such that it’s clear you cannot hold a job. A qualified attorney can go through your medical information to help you determine if you meet the requirements of a disabling condition based on the symptoms you experience.
Impairment Level Matches Social Security Regulations
Your condition doesn’t have to meet the requirements of an automatic disability. However, your impairment must be listed under Social Security laws and regulations. Your medical documentation must also provide strong support for the existence of that impairment. With the assistance of an experienced disability attorney, you can provide the information needed for this aspect of your claim.
Inability to Perform Previous Work Duties
At this juncture, the nature of your disability is reviewed to determine if you can come back to your previous job with reasonable accommodations and if you have “transferrable skills” based on that job. Your prior job history is needed for this analysis.
Impairment, Age, and Education Precluding You from Doing Any Work
This analysis in disability law terms is known as the “residual functioning capacity.” The basis for this analysis is known as “grids.” The grids consist of a pre-established set of federal medical-vocational guidelines used in the review of Social Security disability applications. An attorney is best qualified to answer if grids can impact your application.
Types of Conditions that Have Been Granted SSDI Benefits in Philadelphia
Your work experience comes into play as the examiners analyze whether you have what is known as “residual functional capacity” or “RFC,” meaning that you have transferrable skills based on your previous experience. To be considered disabled, your symptoms must interfere with your ability even to use your lowest level of RFC. Some of our successful SSDI applications include multiple ailments, including the following conditions:
- Degenerative disc disease
- Disorders of the spine
- Debilitating hand pain
- Peripheral neuropathies
- Mitral regurgitation
- Ventricular hypertrophy
- Coronary artery disease
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
- Traumatic brain injury
- Recurring migraine headaches
- Seizure disorder
- Personality disorders
- Panic disorders and anxiety
- Borderline intellectual functioning
- Depressive disorders
- Bipolar disorders
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Multiple sclerosis
- Miller Fisher variant of Guillain Barre
Other serious conditions
- Restrictive lung disease
- Bowel incontinence
Applying for Social Security Financial Assistance Programs
If you have a disability and you don’t have long-term care insurance, you can seek support from the SSA as well as state programs designed to help people in your situation. One of the most significant dilemmas for the disabled is handling medical expenses and making ends meet. You can seek many sources of disability funding with the help of your attorney.
Strict Limits on Your Attorney’s Fees
No one’s first thought in applying for financial assistance is to hire a lawyer. However, there are areas of law — such as disability law and bankruptcy law — where a qualified attorney best represents people’s interests. Laws limiting legal fees are designed to protect citizens in vulnerable situations. Everyone recognizes that the application process can be difficult for a lay person, and a lawyer can help people assert their rights effectively.
Social Security Assistance Programs for the Disabled
Social Security is different from SSDI since it’s ordinarily available upon reaching the age of 62. However, SSDI is available before your retirement age if you become disabled after having accumulated enough points by paying social security payroll taxes.
For those individuals who couldn’t work long enough to accumulate the points required for eligibility, they can apply for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). You can even apply for both SSDI and SSI if your disability insurance award is too small to meet your needs. There are additional state-sponsored programs that your disability lawyer can discuss with you at greater length.
Application processes vary depending on what happens after the initial review. You can apply on behalf of disabled family members, including:
- A current or divorced spouse
- A disabled son or daughter (diagnosed with a disability before age 22)
Eligible offspring include your biological children, adopted child or stepchild. A dependent grandchild also qualifies.
Surviving Children and Widows
After the death of the primary SSDI beneficiary, there are “survivor’s benefits.” Widows are entitled to receive social security benefits at age 62. Children under 16 years old or who are disabled are also entitled to receive benefits until the age of 18.
Access to Subsidized Health Insurance
Medicare and Medicaid are the health insurance services available to people with disabilities. After receiving SSDI for at least two years, you will be eligible to access Medicare. Alternatively, depending on your income, you can apply for Medicaid.
Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
Depending on your income, if you have a disability, you can access supplemental assistance to purchase your food.
Reasons Why SDDI Applications Get Rejected
Many SSDI applications fail because the file contains medical information without clear explanations of how the condition renders you disabled. Our disability lawyers will work closely with you and make sure that your application contains the necessary materials to tell your full story, such as all the help you need to get through your days and how your career has been affected by the disability.
Some medical conditions are not well understood because not everyone with the same condition becomes automatically disabled. For example, there are conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and rheumatoid arthritis that cause flairs where the person is unable to work and will likely need custodial assistance. Every medical condition has a unique impact on every person, and other complications can cause a mild medical condition to turn into a disability. An experienced attorney understands these variations and will work with seasoned medical experts, if necessary, to show that what you experience is part of your condition.
While many people with these diagnoses can continue to work, there are others who eventually have constant flairs and develop complications that impede their ability to hold on to a job. Many applicants fail to provide the necessary evidence that can substantiate the reality of how their medical condition impacts their life.
The Blue Book is not the ultimate basis for determining your disability. With the assistance of your attorney, you can provide the types of information about your chronic condition or combination of medical ailments that cause impediments in your systems.
What to Do If Your SSDI Application Was Denied in Philadelphia, PA
SSDI applications are known for initial denials. With an attorney at your side, you can have someone proactively communicating and advocating on your behalf. In that case, there are multiple opportunities to ask for further review, including:
As of April 2019, denied Pennsylvania SSDI applications must go through reconsideration by another claims examiner at the local office. At this point, you may receive requests for additional information that your attorney can help you follow through on.
Administrative Law Hearing
Your application is reviewed by an administrative law judge (ALJ) who determines whether the claims examiner analyzed the information consistent with rules and regulations. Your attorney can take this opportunity to provide adequate testimony and present your situation in the most favorable light.
There are instances when the ALJ will ask for a vocational expert to testify about his or her findings regarding your ability to work. Also, medical experts often testify as to their conclusions about your disability. Having an attorney representing you at this stage is crucial because sometimes these experts draw incorrect conclusions. At this point, your attorney can ask them questions during what is known as “cross-examination” and test the witnesses’ credibility.
Appeals Council Review
You can ask for a review by the SSA’s policy panel. They don’t take all cases. Your attorney can help you determine if this option is viable or if it’s better to skip this review.
U.S. Federal District Court
A denied application is typically subject to an appeal. An appeal is the part of the process where no more evidence is allowed. The judge looks at your existing medical evidence to determine whether previous reviews were adequate. At this juncture, your attorney presents an argument about the unjust review of your case.
At this point, your lawyer must demonstrate how your record met all SSA rules and regulations. These legal proceedings can get complicated because you have to prove that your application meets the legal standard known as “preponderance of the evidence.” An experienced disability attorney can explain this at greater length.
Call for a Free Consultation With an Experienced Philadelphia SSDI Lawyer
Your medical condition doesn’t have a schedule and isn’t predictable. Nothing could be harder than facing an expensive and debilitating medical condition after reaching adulthood. Most people have a financial advisor to prepare for retirement but don’t consider the possibility of encountering a disability before retiring.
Moreover, being unable to meet the financial needs of a disabled child is difficult. Your disability attorney can guide you when applying under these circumstances. When you apply for SSDI, you have to be prepared to wait for a significant period of time for your application decision. However, with the assistance of a qualified attorney, you can stand prepared to put forth a strong application.
At the law offices of Young, Marr & Associates, you will find a knowledgeable, compassionate, and diligent team of attorneys who understand there is a lot at stake on your SSDI application. They proudly serve Philadelphia residents who need disability law services. To schedule a prompt, free, and private consultation, call (215) 515-2954 our offices.
ALL CASES ARE OVERSEEN BY FORMER SOCIAL SECURITY LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES
Before coming to Young, Marr & Associates, our SSD attorneys worked for the SSA which gives us an advantage over attorneys who have never dealt directly with the internal SSA system. We know the process is difficult – your job is to get better, and our job is to make sure you get the disability you deserve.
Chances are you are preoccupied dealing with a painful illness. You are concerned about your financial future, about how you will get by without a steady source of income.
Read what our clients have to say about us.
“I have already recommended Paul Young numerous times. He was honest, explained endlessly in terms that were understandable. Paul Young guided me through the process from beginning consultation to the end of case. Highly satisfied and grateful for his expertise.”