Social Security Disability Attorney in Port St Lucie
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Social Security Port St Lucie, FL
Anyone who has ever applied for Social Security Port St Lucie, FL, will tell you how frustrating this process can be, especially without the help of a qualified attorney. But you don't have to go down that path alone; all you need is a free case evaluation with a Social Security expert from Morgan and Morgan. We will discuss how our attorneys may be able to help a little bit later. For now, let's take a look at the Social Security process in this part of Florida and everything you need to know about your eligibility.
Understanding Social Security Benefits
Social Security is a government-run program that kicks in when you need financial support and security at various stages of life, such as retirement, disability, and work-related deaths.
This government program comes in many different forms, but today, we'll review three of the most common programs: retirement, disability, and survivor benefits.
If you or your beloved lives in Port St. Lucie, you could qualify for these benefits if you meet certain requirements. Let's briefly go over each benefit, covering what it entails and what you need to do to become eligible.
Social Security retirement benefits are designed for eligible individuals who have reached the designated age of retirement. Here are some key points to note about these types of benefits:
● As the name implies, they serve as a source of income during the retirement years.
● These benefits are usually based on the individual's work history and earnings.
● The exact amount of retirement benefits you may be eligible for will depend on your work credits and the age at which you file a claim for benefits.
The eligibility requirements for retirement benefits are as follows:
First, you typically must have accumulated 40 work credits throughout your employment history. You will earn these credits based on the income you earned and the number of years you worked. The amount of work credits you can earn in any given year varies from year to year. That said, you can only earn a maximum of four work credits a year. For instance, in 2023, for every $1640 earned, you will get one Social Security and Medicare credit.
The second requirement is reaching the designated age for retirement, which also varies depending on your birth year. It generally ranges from 66 (if you were born from 1943 to 1954) to 67 years (if you were born in 1960 or later). You can also claim reduced retirement benefits as early as age 62, but this will result in a permanently reduced monthly benefit amount.
For one reason or another, you may decide to continue working while receiving Social Security retirement benefits before reaching full retirement age. In such a case, you should be aware of certain earning limits.
Again, in 2023, for instance, the monthly earnings limit is $4,710. The Social Security Administration may reduce your benefits if you earn more than the set limit for that particular year before reaching your full retirement age.
It's important to note that even if you haven't earned enough work credits or reached the full retirement age, you may still be eligible for benefits based on the work history of your current or former spouse. Spousal benefits allow you to receive a portion of your spouse's earned benefits.
As the name suggests, individuals who qualify for Social Security disability benefits usually have a qualifying disability that prevents them from engaging in substantial gainful activity, which is just the government's way of saying you can work and earn above a specified threshold set by the Social Security Administration.
You could be eligible for Social Security Disability Insurance if you worked in jobs that fall under Social Security coverage and, secondly, have a medical condition that meets Social Security's strict definition of disability.
This kind of government benefit also kicks in in situations where you cannot seek employment due to a disability expected to last for a year or longer. But you won't receive benefits right away; there is a five-month waiting period, and after that, the first benefit will be paid on the sixth full month from the date the SSA determined your disability.
You may be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits if you have lost a family member (such as a spouse, parent, or child) who was covered under Social Security and also meet other additional requirements, such as:
● Being a surviving spouse who is 60 years of age or older, or 50 years of age or older if you have a disability.
● Being a surviving divorced spouse who meets specific requirements.
● Being a surviving spouse of any age who is caring for the deceased person's child who is under the age of 16 or has a disability and receives child's benefits.
Certain children of the deceased may also qualify for survivor benefits if unmarried and younger than 18 years of age (or up to 19 if they are full-time students in an elementary or secondary school) or at least 18 years old with a disability that began before the age of 22.
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How To Apply for Social Security Benefits in Port St. Lucie, FL?
The federal government is usually in charge of the Social Security program, and one great benefit of this kind of setup is that the application process is quite the same regardless of where you live. For example, if you live in Port St. Lucie, Florida, you may still need to follow (almost) the same procedures as someone who lives in New York.
Overview of the Application Process
You can either apply online, via phone call, or by visiting your local Social Security Administration office.
- Go to the Social Security Administration's website (SSA.gov).
- Click on Apply for Benefits.
- Follow the instructions to check your eligibility and submit your application.
Applying via phone:
Call the Social Security Administration's toll-free telephone number at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
Applying in person:
Visit the local Social Security office in St. Port Lucie at the following address: 6810 US-1, Port St. Lucie, FL 34952. The office opens on Mondays through Fridays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Identification Documents Required
Remember to carry the following documents to prove your identity and eligibility for benefits.
- Your original Social Security card, not photocopies or notarized copies.
- Your original birth certificate, a certified copy issued by the relevant agency, or any other proof of your age.
- If you were not born in the United States, you'll need to provide proof of your U.S. citizenship or lawful alien status. The SSA won't accept expired documents, including photocopies or notarized copies.
- If you served in the U.S. military before 1968, you must submit a copy (or a photocopy) of your military service paper(s).
- Lastly, provide a copy (or photocopy) of your W-2 form(s) and/or self-employment tax return for the previous year.
Wherever applicable, you may also need to submit copies of your employment history and medical records.
When To Hire a Social Security Benefits Lawyer?
You have the option to hire a Social Security lawyer at any stage of the process, but it is highly advisable to consider hiring one right from the beginning. This is important because a Social Security lawyer can provide valuable guidance and assistance from the outset, helping you understand the complex application process and ensuring that you gather all the necessary documentation and evidence to support your claim. By involving a lawyer early on, you increase your chances of submitting a strong and well-prepared application, which could potentially expedite the approval process.
Additionally, if the SSA has denied your initial application for benefits, it is definitely a good idea to seek the help of a lawyer. Keep in mind that denials are not uncommon, and that's something even the SSA openly admits. For example, according to one study conducted by the government agency in 2017, only 22 percent of initial applications for disability filed between 2007 and 2016 were accepted.
Many other studies have found that having a lawyer by your side can greatly benefit your case during the initial application and even through the appeals process. This is because an experienced Social Security benefits lawyer will thoroughly review your application, identify any weaknesses or areas for improvement, and work with you to build a strong case to justify your eligibility for benefits.
Hiring a lawyer is also recommended if:
- Your disability or medical condition is complex or not well-documented
- You are experiencing difficulties understanding the Social Security rules and regulations
- You need legal representation at a disability hearing
So, how exactly can such an attorney help? Here's all you need to know.
How a Social Security Benefits Lawyer Can Help?
We've mentioned that hiring a Social Security lawyer at any stage of the process can significantly improve your chances of getting approved for benefits. In this section, we'll take a deeper look at how exactly such an attorney can help with your specific situation.
You need to understand the Social Security process before submitting your application. The right attorney will explain the entire application process to you, and by the time they're done, you'll have a better understanding of the basics, such as requirements, deadlines, and documentation needed.
Given that the SSA denies a larger percentage of claims, you need to submit a strong application to improve your chances of getting approved. That is also another example of a situation where a lawyer comes in handy to review your case and ensure that you have everything needed, from the necessary medical records and documentation to critical evidence.
They can also help you obtain supportive statements from healthcare providers and present a compelling case that demonstrates the extent of your disability or impairment and why you deserve benefits.
If, for any reason, the SSA denies your application, the lawyer can help analyze the reasons for the denial, gather additional evidence, and prepare a strong appeal on your behalf. They will also help you understand what is required of you throughout the appeals process.
If the case goes to court, the attorney can represent you in hearings before an Administrative Law Judge. You can count on their experience and knowledge of Social Security laws and regulations to improve your chances of success at the hearing.
During the initial case evaluation and determination of eligibility, the attorney will likely explain other potential benefits you may be entitled to, such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicare. By exploring all available options based on your situation, they can ensure you receive benefits you didn't know you deserved.
The social security application process usually involves complex legal paperwork, which can be overwhelming, especially if you have a disability or other health issues that could prevent you from comprehending or even completing the application. That's why you need a lawyer to handle all the legal aspects of your case, including filling out complex forms, filing necessary documents, and fighting for your best interests.
Hire Morgan and Morgan Social Security Lawyers
No doubt that hiring a Social Security attorney is a great way to improve your chances of getting accepted, whether you are filing for the first time or your initial application has been denied. That said, all lawyers are not the same. You need someone with a deep understanding of social security laws and how they apply in your specific case. If that is what you need, there's no better way to navigate this issue than by seeking the help of America's largest injury firm — Morgan and Morgan.
Fill out our free case evaluation form to get started with your application for Social Security Port St. Lucie, FL. And if you qualify for benefits, we may be able to build a strong case to prove your eligibility and increase your chances of getting accepted into the program the very first time or through the appeals process.