Dade City SSDI Lawyer
If you are living with a disability and can no longer work, you may be entitled to receive Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) benefits. These benefits can provide you with the financial assistance you need to support yourself and get your life back on track. Unfortunately, the SSDI application process can be complex, and eligibility for benefits is strictly defined. A knowledgeable Dade City SSDI lawyer can help you thoroughly prepare your application or appeal, gather information to support your claim, and give you the best chance of securing the benefits you need.
At the Disability Law Firm, we have a long track record of success in helping our clients secure maximum SSDI benefits. Attorney Robert C. Alston, our firm’s founder, has in-depth knowledge of Social Security procedures and has been helping clients in Pasco County navigate the claims process for more than 20 years. Our firm has a proven system for ensuring our clients’ claims move forward as efficiently as possible, including following up on each claim every 30 days to ensure there is no hold-up that is going unaddressed.
Contact us today for a free initial case review to discuss your options for applying for SSDI benefits in Dade City, Florida. You will not pay any fees upfront for us to work on your claim. In fact, we only get paid if we secure benefits for you.
What Is Social Security Disability Insurance?
Social Security Disability Insurance, or SSDI, refers to a program administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA) that provides financial assistance to individuals who suffer from a physical or mental disability that renders them unable to work. This financial assistance takes the form of a monthly check, based on your earnings prior to your disability.
You may continue to collect SSDI for as long as you remain totally disabled and unable to work. If you go back to work and earn a certain level of income, or if the SSA later determines that your disability has ended, it may terminate your SSDI benefits.
Do You Qualify for SSDI?
You may be eligible for SSDI if you have suffered a qualifying disability and if you meet the requirements issued by the Social Security Administration. To be eligible specifically for SSDI benefits, you must have sufficient work credits and recent work history. This shows that you have paid into the Social Security program, as SSDI benefits are considered a form of Social Security benefits.
You earn one work credit for every calendar quarter in which you earn a minimum amount of income that is taxed by Social Security. The number of minimum work credits you need to qualify for SSDI increases with age.
In addition to the work credit requirement, to qualify for SSDI, you must meet the minimum recent work history requirements. For applicants over the age of 30, the minimum recent work history requirement equates to having worked in at least five of the 10 most recent years prior to the onset of disability. Applicants under the age of 30 have lower recent work history requirements.
A disabled widow/widower or child of a worker may also be entitled to use their spouse’s or parent’s work history to qualify for SSDI.
How the Social Security Administration Defines Disability
The Social Security Administration defines a person as disabled and therefore potentially eligible for benefits when the person suffers from an inability to perform any substantial gainful activity (employment) due to a medically diagnosed physical or mental impairment. The impairment must be expected to result in death or must have lasted or is expected to last for at least 12 consecutive months. A qualifying physical or mental impairment must render you unable to do your past employment or to work in any other job that exists in the national economy.
The SSA maintains a listing of physical and mental impairments in a resource called the Blue Book. A qualifying impairment must either be listed in the Blue Book or be equivalent to a listed impairment. If your impairment is not listed or equivalent to an impairment in the Blue Book, you will need to undergo an assessment of your residual functional capacity to determine that you cannot perform your past work or any other available jobs.
How Is SSDI Calculated?
Your monthly SSDI benefit is based on the amount you paid into the Social Security system over the years prior to your disability. This is calculated based on your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME). The Social Security Administration uses your average indexed monthly earnings to calculate your primary insurance amount (PIA), which determines how much you receive in monthly benefits.
Your SSDI benefits may be reduced or offset if you receive disability benefit payments from other sources, such as workers’ compensation or a pension fund.
How to Apply for SSDI Benefits
You may apply for SSDI benefits by filling out an application online, calling the Social Security Administration at its toll-free number (1-800-772-1213), or visiting a local SSA office to fill out an application in person.
Before you can fill out an application for SSDI benefits, you will need to gather certain documents and information, such as:
- A birth certificate or other document of your birth
- Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency
- W-2 forms or tax returns, along with information about your earnings
- A completed Adult Disability Report, in which you will provide further information about your claimed limitations and your work history
- Any medical records or documents in your possession
- A completed medical release form to allow the SSA to request further medical records on your behalf
- Any documents or records relating to any workers’ compensation benefits you have received
- Information regarding whether you or someone else has filed for Social Security, Supplemental Security Income, or Medicare benefits on your behalf
- Whether you had active military service prior to 1968
- Whether you receive or expect to receive pension benefits from the federal government or a state or local government
- Whether you have earned any Social Security-type credits or benefits in another country
- The dates of your marriages and divorces, if any
- The name and date of birth of your current spouse and minor children, if any
Applying for SSDI benefits can be an overwhelming process. Our Dade City SSDI attorneys take the headache out of it for you. Contact us now and let our team handle your application from start to finish.
What Happens After You File for SSDI Benefits?
Once you have filed an application for SSDI benefits, it will be forwarded to a state Disability Determination Service Center. There, your application will be reviewed by a claims examiner and medical and vocational experts. The examiners and experts may contact your medical providers to request additional records and documents. You may also be asked to undergo a consultive medical evaluation, at no cost to you.
In most cases, you can expect to wait between three and five months before receiving a decision on your application. The exact length of time for review of your application will depend on whether the claims examiners must obtain additional information for review and how long it takes to obtain that information.
If your application is approved, you can expect to begin receiving SSDI benefits in the sixth month following the date that the SSA has determined that your disability began. However, certain medical conditions, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), may entitle you to begin receiving benefits immediately after your application is approved.
If your application is denied, the denial notice will include an explanation of determination. This will explain the reasons your application was denied and what documents and information were relied upon to reach the determination to deny your application.
What You Need to Know If Your SSDI Claim Was Denied
If your SSDI claim is denied, you may choose to proceed with an appeal. The SSDI claims process has four levels of appeal. At every stage, you have 60 days from the denial or dismissal of your initial application or appeal to file an appeal form to proceed to the next stage.
The first stage of appeal involves reconsideration, where a different claims examiner will review your application anew. You may also provide the new claims examiner with additional documents or information to correct inaccuracies on your initial application or to supplement your application with further evidence.
If your application is denied on reconsideration, you may request a hearing by an administrative law judge (ALJ). A hearing usually lasts between 30 minutes and an hour. It is less formal than a typical court hearing. Most hearings are in person, but they can be done via teleconference or over the phone. The judge will swear you and any other witnesses in. Then, the judge or your attorney will ask you questions about your work history, your injury, and how your disability is affecting you ─ including your ability to sit, stand, walk, concentrate, and interact with others. A vocational expert will also testify about jobs someone with your limitation could or could not perform. It is crucial to have a knowledgeable attorney representing you to understand this testimony and cross examine the expert if necessary. The judge may ask for a closing statement and additional comments before concluding the hearing. You will generally get the ruling from the judge in one to three months, but it could take longer.
If the ALJ rules against you, you may request a review of the decision by the Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may either reject your request for review if it finds no legal error in the ALJ’s decision, or it may grant review and either issue a decision itself or return the case to the ALJ for further consideration.
After the Appeals Council, the final avenue for appeal involves filing a civil lawsuit in federal district court.
You should not try to handle an SSDI appeal without a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Our trusted team at the Disability Law Firm can review your case for free and help you fight for the full benefits you deserve.
SSA Office in Dade City
The local Social Security Administration office in Dade City can be found at 36630 Adair Road, Dade City, FL 33525. The office can also be reached by phone at (866) 562-1325.
How a Dade City SSDI Lawyer Can Make a Difference in Your Case
Unfortunately, most initial SSDI applications are ultimately denied. You can improve the likelihood of having your application approved when you have a Dade City SSDI lawyer who can help with:
- Advising you of your eligibility for SSDI, including determining whether you meet the definition of disability and have sufficient work credits and recent work history
- Collecting the necessary medical evidence to support your claim
- Helping you gather other documents and information you will need to fill out your application
- Following up with the Social Security Administration every 30 days to ensure your claim is not stuck in limbo somewhere
- Walking you through the explanation of determination if your application is denied to identify what further evidence or changes can be made to your application to improve your chances of success on appeal
- Guiding you through the appeals process, including representing you during appeals hearings and taking your claim to court, if necessary
If you have suffered a disability and are considering filing an application for SSDI benefits, contact the Disability Law Firm today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Don’t wait to learn more about how a Dade City SSDI lawyer from our firm can help take the pressure off you during this stressful time. Call us or contact us online today.