SOCIAL SECURITY DISABILITY ATTORNEYS IN BIRMINGHAM, AL
The Social Security Administration (SSA) grants Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits based on an applicant’s ability to perform his or her past relevant work or a different job. To make this determination, the SSA looks at the applicant’s residual functional capacity, which the SSA defines as “the most you can still do despite your limitations.”
If you or a family member is suffering debilitating symptoms from an injury or illness, you should be spending your time and energy on the medical care you need. If you are trapped in the red tape of the Social Security Disability (SSD) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) process, however, you will have little time left for rest and medical treatment. Therefore, it is wise to hire an attorney to help you through the application process.
At Burge & Burge, we understand the frustration Social Security Disability applicants feel when they try to navigate a complex and confusing system that is not designed to work in their favor. We have several decades of experience helping those who are disabled obtain access to the benefits they need and deserve. We work closely with our clients to help them successfully navigate each step of the process. Whether you are filing an initial application, or you have been denied benefits and need to file an appeal, our attorneys are here to provide strong legal guidance and moral support during this difficult and often uncertain time.
Social Security Disability (SSD) vs. Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits cover mental and physical health conditions resulting from illnesses or injuries. If you have enough earnings during the 10 years prior to becoming disabled, you will be eligible for Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits. If you have not earned enough income to qualify for SSD benefits, you may be eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits.
Regardless of the type of benefits you are seeking, our firm can help you understand your rights and assist you in seeking the compensation you deserve. We have the experience needed to navigate the complex SSD processes, rules and regulations. Whether you are filing for SSD benefits for the first time, need help with a denied claim or are going forward with an appeal, having a lawyer on your side can make the process easier.
SSI is a need-based program for people who are unable to work due to a disability. In addition to proving that your medical condition prevents you from working, you have to demonstrate your financial need for SSI. Occasionally, a person with a low income will be eligible for SSD benefits and additional payments from the SSI program.
SSI is a type of income supplement program that provides cash to meet basic needs for those who are:
- Blind; or
- Disabled; or
- Aged; and
- Have limited income and resources.
Each of the above has its own definitions and requirements. For example, “blindness” means that you have a central visual acuity of 20/200 or less in your better eye when using correcting lenses or your visual field limitation is such that the widest diameter is no greater than 20 degrees. In order to be considered disabled, you must have a condition that results in severe functional limitations or the inability to perform substantial gainful activity (if you are an adult), and has lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 months or result in death. The “aged” requirement is satisfied if you are age 65 or older.
Supplemental Security Income benefits are also available to a child younger than 18 if he or she meets the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability for children, and if his or her income and resources are within the eligibility limits.
Whether you believe you are eligible for SSI benefits or not, let our attorneys assess your situation and determine which type of benefits you are most likely to be granted. We have years of experience handling disability benefits cases and can be an advocate for you.
If you have questions about your benefits eligibility, we can answer them. Please call our office at 205-549-8371 to schedule an appointment with our Birmingham, Alabama Social Security Disability lawyers. Your consultation is free.
- In order to be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits, you must have worked jobs that are covered by Social Security. If you did not, you are not eligible.
- Also part of being eligible is having a documented disability. Not only does a doctor, or multiple doctors, have to have your condition thoroughly documented, but your disability must be one that the Social Security Administration (SSA) considers to be a disability that prevents you from working for a year or more.
- Benefits are available to disabled individuals before they reach the age of retirement. Once they are of retirement age, the disability benefits automatically become standard Social Security retirement benefits, but most likely will stay the same amount that you had been getting on disability.
The most difficult part of determining if you are eligible is meeting the Social Security Administration’s definition of disability. There is a very specific documentation process that must be followed in order to show the nature of your disability. Our firm can help you understand this process and how to have the best chance of meeting the definition of disability.
Why are Most SSD/SSI Claims Denied?
Social Security disability benefits are a vital source of income for approximately 4 million Alabama residents. When someone is no longer able to participate in gainful employment because of a qualifying condition, SSD/SSI provides a safety net that allows them to take care of their basic needs. Unfortunately, a large percentage of Social Security disability claims are not approved, at least during the initial application stage.
If you are getting ready to file an SSD/SSI claim for the first time, the statistics show that there is a much better chance that it will be denied than approved. Nationally, the denial rate is approximately 67%, and in Alabama, the rate is slightly higher at 70%. Reconsiderations, which is the first step in the appeals process, is no better. The reconsideration denial rate is 87% nationally and about 75% in Alabama.
These statistics indicate that in approximately three out of every four cases, a disability claimant in Alabama must appear before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) before they finally gain access to the benefits they are entitled to. This means having to wait up to 500 days or longer for the hearing, then waiting another two or three months to find out whether or not the judge decided in your favor.
Failure to provide the right kind of medical information is the reason the majority of SSD/SSI claims are initially denied. Without the proper medical evidence, the Social Security Administration (SSA) will not have enough information to determine if your condition is disabling. Our attorneys can help you gather the type of information the SSA wants to see.
SSD/SSI benefits are granted based on your residual functional capacity to perform substantial gainful employment despite your injury or illness. If the SSA determines that your condition prevents you from earning sufficient income, you will receive benefits. You may submit a claim for disabling physical and mental impairments.
Some of the physical conditions and injuries we often see include back and disk disorders, osteoarthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, lupus, fibromyalgia and chronic pain. People suffering from mood and anxiety disorders, such as depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder, may also be eligible for benefits.
The Hearing After Denied SSD Benefits
If you have been denied SSD benefits after the reconsideration stage, you may request a disability hearing before an administrative law judge. There is a 60-day deadline to request this hearing, so you must act quickly.
At the hearing, the administrative law judge will review your case as well as any new information you have gathered. Compiling the necessary medical reports and forms for a disability hearing is a time-consuming process. An experienced SSD lawyer can help you gather this information and present a strong case to the judge.
The judge will ask you questions about your condition(s) and their impact on your life and ability to work. We will represent you at the hearing and help you explain your need for benefits to the judge. Because of our experience, we know how to answer the judge’s questions effectively and how to prepare you to answer them.
Contact Our Experienced and Compassionate SSD/SSI Attorneys for Legal Help
To discuss your claim, please contact our Birmingham, Alabama Social Security Disability lawyers at 205-549-8371 today. Working with an experienced attorney can simplify the SSD and SSI processes and increase your chances of receiving the benefits you need. Burge & Burge, PC, understands that being denied benefits is frustrating. We can review your claim and advise you on the next steps such as a hearing before an administrative law judge.
At Burge & Burge we can help you through a social security claim.
For a free consultation with our Birmingham Social Security Disability lawyers, please call 205-549-8371 or contact us online.