Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Apply for Social Security Disability Benefits (SSDI)?
Applying for Social Security Disability (SSD) is a complicated process with many opportunities to have your application stalled or denied. In many cases, it is possible to apply on your own and get your application accepted, even without an attorney. However, hiring an attorney to help you with your application process can be a huge help. Especially without prior experience applying for disability benefits for a family member, it can be a daunting task. Talk to a social security disability lawyer at Young, Marr, and Associates today for a free consultation on your disability case and help to understand the benefits of working with an attorney.
People Who Are Eligible for SSDI in Pennsylvania
Not everyone is eligible for SSDI in Pennsylvania. Recipients must meet specific health-related criteria in addition to financial ones. SSDI is designed for disabled citizens who cannot work as a result of their disability or health conditions. First and foremost, an eligible recipient of SSDI benefits must in fact be disabled.
Your disability must meet the definition of disability as set by the Bureau of Disability Determination (BDD). An eligible recipient must be unable to perform any substantial work because of their disability or health condition. Additionally, a person’s disability or health condition must have lasted or can be expected to last for at least one year. Alternatively, a person may be eligible if the health condition is expected to result in their death.
There are also financial qualifications that must be satisfied for a person to be eligible for SSDI in Pennsylvania. First, you must have been previously working and paying into Social Security for long enough to be covered by Social Security Insurance. Second, you must be an insured worker or their spouse or adult child and not be doing any substantial work. People who are still able to perform substantial work or have not paid Social Security taxes may not be eligible. However, our Pennsylvania disability benefits attorneys can help you find a benefit or insurance program that is right for you.
Filing an Application for SSDI in Pennsylvania
Filing for disability benefits under SSDI should be started as soon as you become disabled. SSDI imposes a five-month waiting period that begins after the first full month your application is received. You will not begin receiving benefits until the sixth month after you file your application at the earliest.
When submitting your application, you will need evidence of your disability. Most commonly, this includes reports from doctors and hospitals that have treated you for your health condition or disability. You should include reports from your primary care physician and any specialists you may have been referred to. For many SSDI recipients, their disabilities require treatment from multiple doctors and may involve multiple medical reports.
It is possible that a medical expert will be called in to offer the Administrative Law Judge on your case an expert opinion on your disability or health condition. This medical expert may read your doctor’s reports and consult with the judge about the extent of your disability. This expert may also be present at your hearing and could ask you questions regarding your disability.
The application for SSDI benefits in Pennsylvania is very long and complicated. If anything is out of place or filled out incorrectly, your application could be denied. Hiring an attorney who knows the ins and outs of the process will help you avoid getting denied and hopefully get you approved. Contact our Pennsylvania disability benefits lawyers for help filling out your application and putting together the necessary evidence.
Do You Need an Attorney to Apply for Disability in Pennsylvania?
Hiring an attorney to help you with your SSD application has a few clear benefits. First, an attorney who works with disability applicants has experience handling applications and understands the process. If you have never applied for disability before – which is likely, since most disability applications come from first-time applicants – you might need help figuring out what forms are necessary and what kind of information you should give.
If you are disabled and cannot go to work, you likely need assistance with your application. A spouse or loved one can probably help you with your application, and talking to your doctor may help you gather the information you may need. However, it is unfair for the SSA to expect people who are too disabled to perform job tasks to do something as complicated as fill out disability paperwork. An attorney can help you with this task.
Lastly, working with an attorney can help improve your chances of approval. Many disability applicants who do not work with an attorney fail to provide full information, and their claims are delayed or denied. In many cases, if the Social Security Administration (SSA) cannot determine whether you qualify for disability, they will delay the application while they request additional information. Our attorneys know what kind of information they need and can help you supply this information the first time. We can also help you ensure that your information is accurate.
While you certainly can apply for Social Security Disability without an attorney, it can be a difficult, complex process. Instead of adding to the stress you and your family face, consider letting one of our lawyers help with your application while you focus on coping with your condition.
What Kind of Benefits Do I Get Under SSDI in Pennsylvania?
SSDI benefits are not universal. Different people will receive a different amount of money. Benefits are typically paid on a monthly basis. Payment begins on the sixth full month after the date of your disability. Your work history must be considered when evaluating your application because your monthly benefit payments will be based on your average lifetime earnings. Essentially, the more money you made during your working years, the higher your disability benefit payments will be.
Benefits are typically paid to a disabled recipient. However, under certain circumstances, members of your family may also receive benefits based on your work history. Family members who may be eligible include…
- A spouse who is at least 62 years old,
- A spouse of any age if they are caring for your child who is under the age of 16 or disabled,
- A child who is under the age of 18 and unmarried, possibly including stepchildren and grandchildren, and
- An adult, disabled child whose disability began before age 22.
Eligible family members can receive benefits in one of two ways. First, your family members can get benefits based on your disability because more benefits are necessary when the disabled worker has a family to support. Second, if you are not disabled, but your spouse or child is, and they do not have any work history, they may use your work history when applying for benefits.
It is important to keep in mind that benefits under SSDI do not always work for everyone. People who spent their working years earning a lower income will have lower benefit payments that may not completely cover their needs. While it is possible to receive other benefits and forms of assistance while also receiving SSDI, your SSDI benefits may be reduced or otherwise affected.
What Happens if The Disability Application that You Filed Yourself is Denied in Pennsylvania?
If you do apply without the help of a Social Security Disability lawyer, you may find that your application was denied. In some cases, your application will not be denied outright, and the SSA will simply request additional information. Either situation demonstrates an excellent opportunity to bring an attorney into your case.
If your application requires additional information, our lawyers can help you understand what information you need and help you submit it to the SSA. In some cases, you may be required to fill out medical evaluation forms (and to have a doctor fill out a similar form). These forms are complex, and our lawyers can help you understand what answers to give and how much information to provide.
In the case that your condition is not on the SSA’s list of approved disabilities, you may need to submit additional paperwork to verify that your condition or injury meets the SSA’s definition of “severe” and qualifies you for benefits. Our lawyers can also help with this process and fight for a “medical-vocational allowance” (Med-Voc) for an unlisted condition.
Appealing Your SSDI Denial in Pennsylvania
If your application was denied outright, our lawyers can help file disability appeals. In many cases, the SSD will deny your application because it is incomplete or inaccurate, but they may allow you to resubmit it. At that point, one of our attorneys can step in and help ensure your application is complete and accurate. If it is denied because your condition does not qualify or your condition is not severe, our lawyers can help you get additional medical evidence and testimony to fight the denial.
If your case is set for a disability denial hearing, we can also represent you in those hearings. Disability hearings are like typical court proceedings, and hiring an attorney to navigate the courtroom and the complex legal issues can be an incredible help. Especially if you are physically disabled, it may be difficult for you to take the time and effort to act as your own lawyer.
To appeal the denial of your application, you must submit a request in writing to any social security office within 60 days of receiving the letter of denial.
Returning to Work After SSDI in Pennsylvania
SSDI benefits are there for you when you cannot work due to a disability. However, in many cases, people’s disabilities may improve over time and they could potentially resume working. Other times, SSDI benefits prove to be insufficient, and people wish to supplement their benefits payments with a little extra income. You should consult with an attorney before you resume working after having been approved for SSDI benefits. SSDI does permit you to test your ability to work under a trial work period while also receiving benefit payments. If at the end of your trial work period you are able to return to work, your benefits may end.
If you are earning too much money from working, your SSDI benefits could be at risk. The government usually sets a threshold for gainful activity. If your income exceeds this limit, your SSDI benefits may cease. Speak to our Pennsylvania disability benefits attorneys if you would like to supplement your SSDI benefits with a small income from working. The threshold for gainful activity can change over time and you do not want to run the risk of losing your benefits.
Suppose you wish to eventually stop receiving SSDI benefit payments and resume gainful employment on your own. In that case, SSDI has programs that can provide job training and education for disabled individuals seeking to re-enter the workforce. These programs allow you to prepare for work without completely ending your SSDI benefits. Speak to our legal team about possibly entering one of these programs.
Our Disability Attorneys Can Help in Pennsylvania
If you or a loved one is applying for Social Security Disability through Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), talk to an attorney today. The Pennsylvania and New Jersey disability lawyers at Young, Marr, and Associates represent disabled people in either state and help them and their families to get their disability applications approved. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (215) 515-2954 if you are in PA or (609) 557-3081 if you are in NJ.