Applying for disability benefits can be a very complex process. The application for Social Security Disability benefits is very time-consuming and complicated.
In some cases, the Social Security Administration (SSA) takes months to review specific applications. Because of this, many applicants face significant financial challenges.
The vast majority of first-time Social Security Disability benefits claims are denied. That is why it is very helpful to speak with a skilled disability attorney when applying for these earned benefits.
Before you attempt to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, it is important to understand the process. Speaking with a knowledgeable legal professional can help you know how to apply for disability successfully.
A legal expert will also guide you through the procedure and help you to avoid common pitfalls of the application process. When you need premier legal representation, reach out to the professionals at America’s largest injury firm–Morgan & Morgan.
Since our firm’s founding in 1988, our attorneys have helped clients ensure the best outcomes in their cases. The legal professionals at Morgan & Morgan have a thorough understanding of the Social Security Disability benefits application process.
We will review your circumstances and help you to have the best chance possible of securing the benefits that are rightfully yours. If your claim has been denied, we will build a powerful appeal on your behalf.
For a free legal consultation to discuss how to apply for disability, contact the friendly team at Morgan & Morgan today.
Who Is Considered to Be Disabled?
One of the most important elements when you're considering how to apply for disability is eligibility. Only certain people are entitled to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
If you apply for these benefits without meeting the requirements, the claim will be denied.
The Social Security Administration’s definition of a “disability” is somewhat different from the definitions used by other organizations like Medicaid or private insurance companies.
The lack of an ability to perform work is also known as the inability to perform “substantial gainful activity.” This inability must be the result of “medically determinable” impairments. These impairments may be either physical or mental. Finally, the condition must last for at least a year or be likely to result in death.
The Social Security Administration uses a five-step process to determine whether each applicant meets the qualifications for a status of “disabled.”
When you are wondering how to apply for disability, it is crucial to understand how the SSA determines whether certain applicants qualify.
Five-Step Evaluation Process for Disability
The first step in the SSA’s process for evaluating an applicant’s disability status is related to financial earnings. The Social Security Administration will determine whether you are earning more than the threshold required for “substantial gainful activity.”
As of 2021, this threshold was set at $1,310 per month. Those who earn more than this amount each month will not be eligible to receive Social Security Disability benefits.
Next, the medical condition of the applicant must be “severe.” Severe medical issues or conditions will significantly limit the person’s ability to engage in work-related tasks.
Those who do not provide evidence of a severe condition will not qualify as “disabled.”
Third, the applicant’s impairment must meet certain qualifications found in a predetermined list. This SSA list describes many of the most common disabilities and disabling conditions.
If your condition is not cataloged in the SSA’s list, you may still qualify for benefits. However, it may be more difficult to qualify if this is the case.
The fourth step refers to whether you are able to return to any of your previous employment positions. If you could return to one of your jobs from the prior 15 years, you may have difficulty recovering benefits.
Finally, SSA will determine whether you are currently able to hold gainful employment of any kind. To make this determination, the Social Security Administration will consider your:
- Past working experience
- Ability to push, pull, stand, sit, carry, and walk
- Mental capacity
- And more
In many cases, applicants over 50 years of age with little formal education will be considered unable to transfer to new positions. If the SSA decides that you should be able to find employment in your current condition, they may dismiss your claim of disability.
Understanding How to Apply for Disability
If you are hoping to apply for Social Security Disability benefits, reach out to an accomplished legal professional. A skilled lawyer will guide you through the SSA disability benefits application process.
Many people face denials after completing their disability benefits application forms. In the following section, we will discuss some of the most common reasons that applicants are denied.
To complete the application process, those hoping to receive benefits have several options:
- Complete an online SSA benefits application
- Calling the Social Security Administration
- Visiting the Social Security office in your area
The application for disability benefits requires many different types of personal information. The SSA will use this information to determine applicants’ eligibility.
Some of the information required by the SSA application form includes:
- Applicant’s Social Security number
- Proof of applicant’s age
- Contact information for healthcare providers
- Dates of previous medical visits
- Names and dosages of the applicant’s prescription drugs
- All of the applicant’s available medical records
- Relevant medical test results
- An exhaustive summary of the applicant’s work history
- Applicant’s most recent W-2 or federal tax return
Some of this information can be difficult to locate. It is important to complete the application form correctly and in its entirety. Failing to do so may result in a denial of benefits.
That is why it is vital to secure the services of a competent Social Security attorney to learn how to apply for disability benefits successfully. When you hire the experts at Morgan & Morgan, we will ensure that your SSA benefits application is completed properly. This will give you the best chance of recovering benefits.
Appealing a Denied Claim
Most first-time Social Security Disability benefits applications are denied. There are many different reasons that applicants are denied.
Some of the most common reasons for a denied Social Security Disability benefits claim include:
- The applicant earns too much money,
- The applicant’s condition is not severe enough
- The disability is the result of drug or alcohol use
- The applicant did not follow medical instructions
- The application was fraudulent
If you have been denied the benefits that you deserve, reach out to the team at Morgan & Morgan. Our accomplished attorneys have a thorough understanding of the Social Security Disability benefits appeals process.
We will use the available evidence to build a powerful case for you. You should not have to forego the benefits that are rightfully yours.
The first step in the SSA benefits appeals process is called “reconsideration.” Your attorney will file the necessary paperwork to request that your claim be reconsidered.
After the request has been filed, a claims examiner will review the facts of your case. They will assess the evidence that you initially provided. Also, your lawyer will have the opportunity to present new evidence to the SSA claims examiner.
If the reconsideration does not resolve the issue, you still have options. Your lawyer can request a hearing before an administrative law judge.
During this hearing, your legal representative will present the strongest possible version of your case. They are permitted to call expert witnesses to provide evidence and testimony to bolster your claim for benefits.
Appeals Council Review
If the administrative law judge maintains the denial of benefits, your attorney has the option to request a review in front of the Social Security Appeals Council. The Council will review your file and consider your request for a review.
While you are permitted to request a review, the Social Security Appeals Council is not required to provide one.
In some cases, these three levels of appeal are not enough. If you still wrongfully face a denial after requesting an Appeals Council review, you have the option of filing a lawsuit.
Your attorney will build the most powerful case possible and file litigation seeking to overturn the denial of your benefits. If you have been denied the disability benefits that are rightfully yours, do not hesitate.
Contact the trusted experts at Morgan & Morgan. We will fight tirelessly to overturn your wrongful denial of Social Security Disability benefits.