By: Passalacqua & Associates

How Can a Social Security Disability Lawyer Increase Your Chances of Approval for Benefits?

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Do You Need Social Security Disability Benefits?

Are you struggling to pay bills after becoming disabled? If you’ve been disabled, if you cannot work, and if you need to receive disability benefits each month, you may also need reliable legal advice about disability benefits. The first step to obtaining the disability benefits you need is discussing your situation with a Syracuse Social Security disability attorney.

If you apply to the Social Security Administration (SSA) for disability benefits, whether you’re applying for Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI), you’ll face a complicated and challenging task that will require a disability lawyer’s help.

What’s the difference between SSDI benefits and SSI benefits? Who qualifies for these disability benefits, what is required to obtain these benefits, and how will a Syracuse Social Security disability lawyer help? Keep reading for the answers that, now or in the future, you may need.

SSI or SSDI: Which Benefits Are Right for You?

SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is a taxpayer-funded benefits program that offers assistance to low-income disabled or blind workers, or in some cases, families with disabled children. The monthly income of an SSI applicant may not exceed a minimum income threshold.

SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance) provides benefits to workers who have been disabled before they reach retirement age and can no longer work. Applicants must have worked, must have paid Social Security (FICA) taxes, and must suffer a condition that the SSA defines as a disability.

In 2020, about twelve million people under age 65 were receiving disability benefits in the U.S. Almost 7.5 million received benefits from SSDI only, about 3.4 million received benefits from the SSI program only, and almost 1.2 million received benefits from both of these programs.

What Must Accompany Your Application for Disability Benefits?

Although Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance are separate and distinct programs, receiving benefits from either program begins with a lengthy, complex, and often frustrating application procedure.

You should have an attorney’s help to ensure that your application for disability benefits is complete and accurate, and you’ll need to include with that application:

  1. a list of the doctors, clinics, and hospitals that have treated or examined you
  2. the dates of any treatments or hospitalizations
  3. a list of the prescription medications you are taking
  4. copies of your medical test and physical exam results
  5. contact information for your recent employers, and the dates of employment
  6. contact information for your workers’ compensation carrier or health insurance provider
  7. emergency contact information for reaching a family member or trusted friend

Where Do You Start?

Mistakes or misunderstandings could hold up your benefits for months or even make you ineligible for disability benefits, so have a disability lawyer walk you through each step of the application process. Here’s what you should know when you are seeking SSI or SSDI benefits:

  1.   With your attorney’s help, submit your disability benefits application promptly. Strict deadlines apply, and every day that you wait is a day that you are not receiving benefits.
  2.  Your initial application for Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance benefits will probably be denied. Most first-time applications are. With your disability lawyer’s help, you should appeal that denial as quickly as possible.
  3.  By itself, a doctor’s statement that you are disabled usually will not be sufficient to get you approved for SSI or SSDI benefits. A Syracuse Social Security disability attorney can help you compile the statements, records, and documents you will need.
  4.  Follow your doctor’s orders and don’t miss your follow-up appointments. If you don’t take your disability seriously, the Social Security Administration may decide that you are not seriously disabled.
  5.  Don’t assume that a disability attorney will cost too much. Most disability lawyers in the State of New York handle disability claims on a contingent fee basis, which means that your lawyer does not get paid until and unless you start receiving your benefits.

How Does the SSA Classify Disabilities?

The Social Security Administration’s disability guidelines classify your capacity to work – your “Residual Functional Capacity” – as sedentary, light, or medium:

  1.  A sedentary Residual Functional Capacity is the ability to sit in one position for up to six hours and the ability to lift up to ten pounds occasionally.
  2.  A light Residual Functional Capacity is the ability to walk or stand for up to six hours and the ability to lift up to twenty pounds occasionally.
  3.  A medium Residual Functional Capacity is the ability to walk or stand for up to six hours, lift twenty-five pounds frequently, and lift fifty pounds occasionally.

How Are Disabilities Determined?

The Social Security Administration processes SSI and SSDI claims with a formula that accounts for the applicant’s age, RFC level, and job history. That information is placed in a “vocational grid” which calculates whether or not a claim for disability benefits should be granted.

However, in some circumstances, a claim for benefits may be granted even if the vocational grid recommends a denial, because the Social Security Administration also takes into account an applicant’s cognitive, emotional, and psychological limitations.

A short-term disability (for less than one year) does not make you eligible for SSI or SSDI benefits, but if you are temporarily disabled in New York, you may qualify for workers’ compensation benefits. New York State also provides benefits to employees for off-the-job injuries through the Disability and Paid Family Leave Benefits Law.

What Else Should You Know?

Should you become disabled, consult a Syracuse Social Security disability lawyer prior to submitting any application for benefits. The right disability lawyer will know what benefits you are eligible for, what steps you should take, and how to obtain the disability benefits you need.

With offices in Utica and Syracuse, Passalacqua & Associates advises and represents the injured and the disabled throughout the State of New York. Passalacqua & Associates will provide you with a free, in-depth, no-obligation case evaluation. You’ll receive sound, personalized advice.

The attorneys at Passalacqua & Associates have over thirty years of combined legal experience, and we’ve established a reputation for legal excellence. If you’ve been disabled, we are ready to put our knowledge and experience to work for you. To learn more, or to begin the disability benefits application process, call Passalacqua & Associates now at 315-277-3548.