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Best Social Security Disability Lawyers in Pittsburgh – Morgan & Morgan
You may not only be dealing with the physical and emotional effects of a disability but also worry about how to support yourself and your loved ones financially. While Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits are generally available for the disabled and their families, the process of applying for benefits can be complex, lengthy, and frustrating. Moreover, most claims are denied at the first hurdle.
Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh have handled countless SSDI applications on behalf of claimants and their families. We know the claims and appeals process inside and out. If you are planning on applying for benefits or received a denial letter already, we could help. Contact us now for a free consultation to learn about your rights.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
SSDI is managed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) and provides monthly benefit payments to the disabled. To receive SSDI benefits, you must have a qualifying condition and have collected a certain number of work credits.
Work credits are generally based on your yearly wages or self-employment income. Workers can earn up to four credits each year. The number of work credits required to receive disability benefits depends on the age at which the individual became disabled. Claimants should generally have collected 40 work credits to qualify, 20 of which must have been earned in the last ten years. Younger workers could qualify with fewer credits.
How Much Are SSDI Benefits Worth?
In 2021, the average monthly benefit amount for a disabled worker amounts to $1,280, according to the SSA. However, depending on your previous earnings, you could receive a higher or lower monthly amount. Eligible family members such as a spouse or dependent children could also qualify for certain benefits.
Do I Qualify for SSDI Benefits?
Receiving disability benefits depends on whether you qualify according to SSA guidelines. Typically, disabled individuals qualify if they:
- Can no longer work in their previous job
- Are unable to take up other types of work due to their condition
- Have a condition or disability estimated to last at least a year or for the rest of their lives
Knowing where to start when filing an SSDI claim can be challenging. While you can potentially file a claim on your own, consider working with one of our Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh who could help you with every aspect of pursuing disability benefits. We are familiar with the SSDI evaluation and appeals processes and could assist you in recovering the benefits you deserve.
Evaluation Process for Receiving Social Security Disability Benefits
The SSA comprehensively screens all applicants for disability benefits based on the severity of their condition and whether they could work. If the SSA establishes that your condition or disability is significant enough to prevent you from performing any work, you will be considered disabled and eligible for benefits. However, if the SSA rules that you could still work in some capacity, you will not be considered disabled.
Type and Severity of Disability or Condition
Your eligibility for benefits generally hinges on providing adequate medical proof of your condition and its severity. If your condition is listed in the “Blue Book” of the SSA, the agency will most likely approve your claim.
Ability to Work
If your condition is not listed in the Blue Book, you could still qualify for disability benefits. However, the SSA will have to determine whether you could work in your previous career or in another function. If the SSA determines that your disability allows you to work, the agency will deny your claim for benefits.
The Timeline for Receiving Benefits
Even if your claim is approved, receiving benefits can take some time. The application process itself could drag out over months. Claimants also face a mandatory waiting period of five months before receiving payments. Therefore, to avoid financial hardship, ensure to apply for disability benefits as soon as you can.
Reasons for SSDI Claim Denials
Your SSDI claim could be denied for various reasons, such as mistakes on the application form or lack of medical evidence. The SSA will also deny disability benefits if your condition is not considered severe enough to stop you from working. The agency can also deny benefits for other reasons, such as:
- Not communicating or cooperating with the SAA
- Failing to follow a treatment plan or your doctor’s orders
- Having committed a crime
- Committing SSDI benefit fraud
- Suffering from alcohol or drug-abuse related disability
It is important to note that a claim denial is not necessarily the end of the road. If you were denied disability benefits, you could request an appeal. A Social Security Disability lawyer can advise you and help fight a denial.
How to Appeal a Social Security Disability Benefits Denial
There are four levels of SSDI appeals after a denial:
- Hearing with an Administrative Law Judge
- Appeals Council Review
- Federal Court
Reconsideration is the first level of appeal. During a reconsideration, an examiner from Social Security, who was not involved in the original decision, will review your benefit claim and any new medical evidence provided. They will then decide whether you should be granted benefits.
Hearing With an Administrative Law Judge
If your claim was denied at the reconsideration stage, the next step is generally a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). At this stage, having an attorney by your side can be critical as the ALJ will interview you. There could also be others at the hearing, such as expert medical witnesses. After the hearing, you will receive a letter with the ALJ’s decision.
Appeals Council Review
If your claim was again denied, you could ask for a review by the SSA’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council will review the ALJ’s decision and determine whether any information or medical evidence was overlooked. The Appeals Council can then either:
- Reverse the judge’s decision and approve your claim
- Hand your case back to an ALJ
- Deny your claim
If the Appeals Council denies your claim, you have the final option of filing a lawsuit in federal court. A judge will review your claim and rule on factual questions. While having an attorney by your side can be advantageous at all stages of the appeals process, now is an excellent time to work with an attorney if you do not already have legal representation.
When to File a New Social Security Disability Claim
In some cases, claimants are better off filing a new claim rather than appealing. It can be a good idea to file an entirely SSDI benefits claim when:
- You have a considerable amount of new medical evidence
- Your disability has significantly worsened since you filed your claim
- You are impacted by severe financial hardship
- You suffer from a rapidly progressing terminal illness
Filing a new claim is generally advisable when you need a quick decision, as the appeals process can prove convoluted and lengthy. Since it can be confusing to know what to do for the best when your initial claim is denied, consider consulting with one of our Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh. We can assess your particular circumstances to determine whether you should file a new claim or an appeal.
Tips for Finding the Best Social Security Disability Lawyer in Pittsburgh
Finding the best social security attorney near you can make all the difference for your SSDI claim, especially if you received a denial notice. Good tips for finding an attorney include:
Referrals From Friends and Family
Perhaps you know someone who has successfully filed a disability claim and can recommend an attorney. Asking friends and family can be a fantastic way to find a good Social Security Disability lawyer.
Search the Internet for Local Social Security Disability Attorneys
Internet research can be helpful when looking for an attorney or law firm to represent you. Most lawyer’s entries on Google include client reviews, which can help you decide on a lawyer or law firm.
Morgan & Morgan Could Handle Your SSDI Claim
You do not have to look far to find the best Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh. Morgan & Morgan has your back. Our attorneys have the resources and stamina to see your claim through from beginning to end, even if it means going all the way to federal court to fight for your disability benefits.
Schedule a Free Consultation With an SSDI Attorney
Most Social Security Disability lawyers will be happy to answer your questions and address your concerns in a free first consultation. Meeting your potential attorney allows you to determine whether they are a good fit for you. Pay particular attention to their communication style and enthusiasm when answering your questions. If your potential lawyer seems disinterested or is rushing to get away from the meeting, consider that this could be how they might handle your case.
Morgan & Morgan
Can I Receive Disability and Workers’ Compensation at the Same Time?
Potentially, yes, you could collect disability benefits and workers’ compensation payments at the same time if you qualify for both programs. However, there is a cap on the amount that you can receive from both. Your total combined income from disability and workers’ comp must not exceed 80 percent of your previous wage.
The Difference Between Disability and Workers’ Compensation
Workers’ compensation is generally available for those who developed a work-related condition or got injured in a work accident. On the other hand, SSDI benefits are accessible to all who qualify, provided they have worked and paid taxes for a certain time, which is typically around ten years.
Knowing whether you qualify for both programs and applying for both can get confusing. Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh can walk you through your options and help you maximize the benefits you are entitled to.
How Can An Attorney Help Me With an SSDI Appeal?
Having an SSDI claim denied can be frustrating. However, you do have the option of appealing. Working with an attorney could increase your chances of receiving the benefits you are entitled to, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).
Our SSDI attorneys understand the complex appeals process and could help you. We can:
- Try to expedite your claim
- Help you navigate the appeals process
- Gather medical evidence proving your claim
- Represent you at appeal hearings
- Prepare you for questioning at hearings
- Tracking your claim with the SSA
Having a claim denied time and again while the bills are stacking up can be upsetting. Having an experienced attorney handle your SSDI appeal could prevent further denials and help you receive the financial help you need to go on with your life.
Can I Afford the Best Social Security Disability Lawyer?
Money should not be a concern when fighting for the benefits you need to live your life. The fees of SSDI attorneys are regulated and capped by the SSA to ensure that all claimants have access to legal representation and help with their claims. When Morgan & Morgan takes your case, you have peace of mind that there is nothing to pay unless your benefit claim is successful.
Contact Us Today for Help With Your SSDI Claim
More than half of all SSDI claims are initially denied, most for technical reasons or due to lack of medical evidence. Don’t let this happen to you. For Morgan & Morgan, you are not just a number. We know that there is a personal story behind every denied claim. We know that every denied claim has the potential to cause financial chaos for an individual and their family.
Our Social Security Disability lawyers in Pittsburgh can be here for you. We have helped countless SSDI benefits claimants and their families recover the benefits they need to go on with their lives. We could help you too. Contact us today for a free review of your claim to determine your next best steps.