Completing a Social Security Disability application is a high-stakes and complicated task. For those unable to work and earn income, Social Security Disability benefits offer much-needed financial support and stress relief.
At Pilzer Klein, helping clients receive Social Security Disability benefits is our specialty. For decades, residents of Pickens, SC, have depended on us to guide them through the application process and deliver positive outcomes. Partner with a Pickens, SC, Social Security Disability applications lawyer from our firm and start working toward a more stable financial situation.
How Social Security Disability Benefits Work
Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits are funds distributed by the Social Security Administration (SSA) to those whose medical conditions leave them unable to work and earn a sustainable living.
These funds provide critical support to disabled individuals and families, but becoming an approved recipient is not easy. To make your experience less frustrating and more productive, trust your case to a Pickens, SC Social Security Disability applications attorney.
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The Five-Step Qualifying Process
The SSA asks five questions, potentially creating five steps, to determine if you are disabled enough to qualify for SSD.
If Employed, How Much Do You Earn?
The SSA uses income guidelines to assess whether your employment counts as substantial, gainful activity (SGA). The guidelines change each year. For 2023, if you made more than $1470 per month, gross income, you would not qualify as disabled.
If you do work but are not performing SGA, your application will be forwarded to Disability Determination Services (DDS) for evaluation.
Is Your Medical Condition Severe?
The SSA does not recognize a condition as severe unless it has or is expected to limit you from performing basic work-required tasks such as standing, walking, remembering, lifting, or sitting for a year, or will cause your death. If your condition qualifies as severe, you move to the next step. If it does not, you will not qualify for benefits.
Is Your Condition Included on the SSA’s List of Disabling Conditions?
The SSA lists conditions meeting its disability criteria. Conditions not on the list are not automatically disqualified, but the SSA will investigate further. If the condition ultimately meets SSA’s standards, you qualify as disabled. Otherwise, you move to the next step.
Can You Do the Work You Used To Perform?
The SSA will assess whether your condition prevents you from carrying out work required at your prior employment. If it does not, you will not qualify as disabled. If it does, you move to the next step.
Can You Perform Other Types of Work?
The SSA will attempt to find other employment opportunities more accommodating to your medical condition. Your medical situation, age, work history, education, and transferable skills will all be considered. If there is no suitable work for you, the SSA will determine whether you qualify for SSD. If you can perform other work, your application will be rejected.
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The Work Credit Requirement
To collect benefits, you also need to have a work history that paid into the SSA and earned your work credits. Workers can earn up to four work credits per year. The dollar amount required to earn credit changes yearly.
Usually, the requirement for eligibility is 40 credits, and 20 of them need to have been earned in the 10 years prior to the onset of your disability.
Exceptions to Eligibility Standards
Its standards are strict, but the SSA does offer exceptions for:
- People with visual impairments or blindness.
- Surviving or divorced spouses of deceased disability recipients.
- Children with disabilities.
- Adults who became disabled before age 22.
- Individuals with disabilities who have low income, limited resources, and insufficient work history.
The Application Timeline
Applications must be completed thoroughly and truthfully. An experienced Social Security Disability applications lawyer in Pickens, SC, knows what information to gather, how to collect and present it, and how to ensure your application is complete and accurate. Your attorney will also bring efficiency to what can otherwise be a lengthy process.
After submission, the SSA will conduct an initial review to determine whether your application meets basic eligibility requirements. The office will also review your current working situation, if applicable.
Once your application is reviewed and processed, it will be forwarded to the South Carolina Disability Determination Services office. That office will evaluate the application and render a decision. Typically, a decision takes from three to six months.
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What a Decision Means
A favorable decision means you will start collecting disability payments once you have been disabled for five full months. Starting with the sixth month of your disability, you will receive checks monthly.
An unfavorable decision means you have not been approved for benefits. Though understandably distressing, the decision does not end your fight for benefits. You have options for appeal.
Unfortunately, It is not uncommon for SSD applications to be denied, especially when applicants complete them without help. When you secure representation from a Pickens, SC Social Security Disability applications lawyer from Pilzer Klein, you have the assurance of our loyalty, even in the toughest cases.
The Appeals Process
You have 60 days from the date you received notice of an unfavorable decision to file an appeal with the SSA.
First, you make a request for reconsideration. If you do not agree with the SSA’s decision regarding the reconsideration of your application, you can request a hearing before a judge. If you disagree with the judge’s decision, you can request a review by the Appeals Council. Finally, you can file a federal district court action if you are unhappy with the Appeals Council’s decision.
The appeals process will be laid out in the rejection letter. However, it will be better explained, and your appeal more effectively pursued by a Social Security Disability applications attorney in Pickens SC.
Get Superior-Quality Local Legal Help Today
Pilzer Klein only takes Social Security Disability cases and focuses its practice on local residents. When you partner with us, you do not just work with an attorney, but with a neighbor. We are familiar faces in local Social Security offices, and our connections work to your advantage.
Contact us today and benefit from the immediate support of a licensed, knowledgeable, and experienced Pickens, SC, Social Security Disability applications lawyer.