Social Security Disability Attorney in El Dorado, Arkansas
You’ve just developed a mental or physical condition that you feel prevents you from working, and you’ve heard that the Social Security Administration (SSA) administers two programs for the disabled that provide benefits for those unable to work.
You want to know the details and how to apply, but then friends tell you that the process can be challenging and that the approval process is slow. There are strict requirements.
The SSA does indeed administer two separate programs. One, called Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), is for those who have contributed through work or self-employment taxes to the Social Security system and thus qualify because of their work history. The other, called Supplemental Security Income, is for those with financial needs who may not otherwise qualify under SSDI.
And yes, for the most part, the process can drag out, and the qualifications can sometimes be hard to meet, resulting in more than half of first-time applicants being initially turned away. Fortunately, there is an appeals process, and your chances increase as you scale the appeals ladder.
If you’re seeking disability benefits from Social Security in El Dorado, Arkansas, contact us at the Rushing Law Firm PLLC. Our team will help you assemble a comprehensive claims package to help you succeed on the first try, and if that falls short, we will help you through the appeals process until you get the benefits you deserve.
The team at the Rushing Law Firm PLLC proudly serves clients not only in El Dorado, Arkansas, but also in the neighboring areas of Magnolia, Camden, Crossett, and in Union County, Columbia County, Ashley County, and Ouachita County, Arkansas.
Disability Defined Under SSDI and SSI
Though the qualifications for the two programs differ, both SSDI and SSI rely on the same definition of disability. In short, according to the SSA website: “The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”
Thus, a temporary physical impairment or recoverable short-term mental condition will not qualify. The disability must last at least 12 months or until death.
Qualifying for Benefits
The qualifications for benefits outside of meeting the definition differ for SSDI and SSI. SSDI is reserved for those who have earned what are called work credits by paying into the Social Security system. In other words, they have been paying Social Security taxes at work or through their self-employment taxes.
The number of work credits required varies depending on one’s age, but the basic standard is to have earned a total of 40 work credits minimum, with 20 of those having been earned in the past ten years.
A work credit hinges upon the number of wages or self-employment income earned each year, and the amount needed for a work credit is revised periodically. In 2022, you earn one work credit for every $1,510 in income during the year. When you’ve earned $6,040, you will have reached four work credits for the year. Four is the yearly maximum.
Supplement Security Income, or SSI, provides income to adults and children who are disabled or blind and have income and resources that fall below federal guidelines. Those over the age of 65 may also qualify based on financial considerations.
The income requirement can be a bit tricky to calculate, but the resource limitations are fairly strict ($2,000 for an individual and $3,000 for a couple). There are exemptions, however, including the value of one’s home, car, household furnishings, some life insurance, and burial plots.
It is possible to qualify for both SSDI and SSI, though there may be offsets.
Reasons for Denial
Generally, the most cited reason for denial – though the SSA does not term it a denial when they inform you – is the lack of sufficient medical evidence. If, for instance, you just complete a claim form and provide no further documentation with it, you’ll likely be asked to provide further details. If you don’t, you’ll probably be turned down.
Another reason is that your physical or mental condition upon which you’re basing your claim is not found on the SSA’s List of Impairments. This does not mean you won’t eventually qualify for benefits, but it will require extra effort and evidence on your part.
Appealing a Decision
When you receive your letter of determination, and the result is not favorable – that is, your claim has been initially denied – your next step is to ask for a reconsideration. This means that another agent, one who has never seen your file before, will conduct a review and make an independent determination.
If reconsideration still results in a denial, you can request a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ). If the ALJ’s decision is still not in your favor, you can request a review by the SSA’s Appeals Panel. The panel can affirm the judge’s ruling, return the matter to the ALJ for further hearings, or even reverse the decision.
The only remaining option if the Appeals Council does not result in your claim being approved is to file a civil action in federal court.
Social Security Disability Attorney Serving
El Dorado, Arkansas
Several claimants face denials and delays in the process because they neglect to provide sufficient medical evidence and other documentation, including first-hand accounts by family, friends, and coworkers. If you’re seeking SSDI or SSI benefits in Magnolia, Camden, Crossett, or El Dorado, Arkansas, or you need to pursue an appeal, contact us at the Rushing Law Firm, PLLC. We are ready to stand up for your rights and champion your cause.