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Social Security Disability (SSD) is a compulsory insurance policy that provides income to people who are too injured or ill to work.
The premiums for this insurance come from the payroll taxes that come out of every paycheck. Most people go through their entire lives without ever needing it, perhaps finding some comfort in the fact that the safety net is there if something happens.
Unfortunately, many people who find themselves in the position of needing this safety net, because an injury or illness has left them unable to work, are shocked to see their claims routinely denied for anything short of a catastrophic injury.
If you have been denied SSD insurance, realize that you are not alone. Most people receive initial denials, but appeals are not hopeless. In fact, well over half of denied applications are approved on appeal.
This is why it is so important to keep going, with the help of an Orlando disability attorney, even if your application is initially denied.
Get your free consultation today.
Qualifying for Social Security Disability: What You Need to Prove
There are two prongs to qualifying for Social Security Disability in Florida.
- The first looks at the claimant’s earning record and determines whether they have worked enough to qualify. Most people who have worked regularly, even if only part time, meet this qualification. However, people who only recently began working or have worked “under the table” may have difficulty here.
- The second prong is disability, and the vast majority of claims are denied because of a failure to meet the Social Security program’s definitions of a disability. In order to qualify as disabled, a claimant must have a serious physical or mental impairment which prevents that claimant from engaging in any substantial gainful activity and that can be expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death.
Defining “Disability” Under the Social Security Program
Each of the terms within this definition has its own unique meaning within the Social Security program.
For instance, “substantial gainful activity” generally means employment for pay that provides the claimant a net income of more than a certain amount per month. This amount changes every year and is $1,130 for 2016.
Your Social Security disability lawyer works with you to determine your eligibility and fights for you if you are turned down.
The Social Security Administration also uses a list of diseases and medical conditions – often referred to as “listings” – to determine if a medical impairment is serious enough to prevent a person from working.
Each listing contains a list of symptoms or objective findings, which the condition must meet. If a claimant’s condition does not meet any “listing,” it is then evaluated under a “grid” which examines the claimant’s age, work history, education, and level of functional impairment to arrive at a determination of “disabled” or “not disabled.”
The Social Security Disability Appeals Process
Most SSD applications are initially denied. Fortunately, there is an appeal process available that offers a good chance of ultimately success – well over half of initial denials are later reversed.
Unfortunately, the process can be complicated, intimidating, and very difficult to successfully navigate without the assistance of an Orlando Social Security attorney.
- The Administrative Law Judge – An initial SSD application is decided by a functionary at a state-run Disability Determination Service (DDS). An administrative law judge (ALJ), however, is an independent decision-maker employed by the federal government and wholly independent from the DDS. The ALJ reviews the claimant’s medical records, work history, and any other information provided. The ALJ then renders a written decision which can be fully favorable, partially favorable, or unfavorable.
- Appeals Council – A claimant who receives a partially favorable or unfavorable decision can appeal the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council reviews the record, including a recording or transcript of the hearing and the evidence submitted to the ALJ, and decides if the ALJ made a mistake. If the Council does not believe a mistake was made, it affirms the decision.
- Federal District Court – After the Appeals Council, the only remaining remedy is to file suit in Federal Court. Typically, Federal Magistrate Judges review the available record and decide if the decision-makers below violated any applicable laws or regulations. Very few cases reach this level. However, those that do have a surprisingly high success rate.
Orlando Social Security Disability Lawyers Fight for Your Benefits
Most SSD applicants are denied at first and the appeals process can be long and arduous. But with the help of Florida Social Security Disability attorneys, a significant percentage of applicants who are initially denied ultimately receive SSD in Florida, as well as lump sum back benefits for the period during which their appeals were pending.
If you are no longer able to work due to an illness or injury, we may be able to help you get the SSD benefits you desperately need.
Call Morgan & Morgan at (407) 420-1414 or contact us online to have your situation reviewed and evaluated by an attorney who knows the Social Security regulations and the appeals process.