Social Security Disability (SSD) Insurance pays benefits for individuals who are “insured,” meaning they have worked long enough and paid Social Security taxes. SSD benefits are typically managed and administered by the Social Security Administration (SSA), an independent agency in the federal government.
Do you need help applying for SSD benefits in the greater Lexington area? Was your SSD claim wrongly denied? The experienced Lexington SSD attorneys at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer understand the common problems that arise in Social Security Disability Insurance cases and know how to help people who qualify get the benefits they’re entitled to.
Call us or contact us online to schedule a free case review and discuss how we can help you.
What You Need to Know About Qualifying for Disability Benefits
A person automatically qualifies for social security disability benefits when their condition meets the specified criteria in the SSA impairment listing manual known as the Blue Book. Impairments are divided into adult listings and listings for children.
People can also be awarded SSD benefits for “equaling a disability listing,” which occurs when the SSA considers aspects of a person’s condition medically equivalent to the criteria in the Blue Book listing. Individuals can also be eligible if their unlisted disabilities prevent them from working.
Adult listings include all of the following impairments:
- Immune system disorders, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, inflammatory arthritis, or systemic vasculitis
- Musculoskeletal system impairments, such as soft tissue injuries, disorders of the spine, fracture of an upper extremity, or amputation
- Cancer (malignant neoplastic diseases), such as malignant melanoma, leukemia, soft tissue sarcoma, lymphoma, or cancer treated by bone marrow or stem cell transplantation
- Special senses and speech impairments, such as loss of speech, loss of visual efficiency, or hearing loss treated with cochlear implantation
- Mental disorders, such as eating disorders, autism spectrum disorder, neurocognitive disorders, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, or intellectual disorders
- Respiratory disorders, such as asthma, chronic respiratory disorders, cystic fibrosis, or respiratory failure
- Neurological disorders, such as coma or persistent vegetative state, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury (TBI), cerebral palsy, or multiple sclerosis
- Cardiovascular system impairments, such as peripheral arterial disease, chronic heart failure, or heart transplant
- Congenital disorders that affect multiple body systems, such as non-mosaic down syndrome (chromosome 21 trisomy or chromosome 21 translocation)
- Digestive system impairments, such as liver transplant, chronic liver disease, or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Endocrine disorders, such as hyperglycemia, pituitary gland disorders, hypoglycemia, or thyroid gland disorders
- Genitourinary disorders, such as complications of chronic kidney disease, nephrotic syndrome, or chronic kidney disease with kidney transplant
- Skin disorders, such as burns, dermatitis, or chronic infections of the skin or mucous membranes
- Hematological disorders, such as repeated complications of hematological disorders, hemolytic anemias, including sickle cell disease, or disorders of bone marrow failure
How Can an SSD Lawyer Help You?
Experienced attorneys know how to find the medical evidence necessary to prove a disability to the satisfaction of the SSA. People who file claims independently could struggle for months attempting to track down this evidence on their own.
When your SSD case requires appeals, your lawyer can ensure that your requests are accurately filed in a timely fashion, and they will also be able to represent you in the hearings. An attorney can help prepare you for this process and can assist in collecting possible witnesses in your case.
Types of SSD Benefits
The SSA manages two programs that provide disability benefits: the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program, and the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program. SSD benefits can vary greatly depending on work records.
A person needs to be disabled for a minimum of five months before they can begin receiving SSD benefits, and benefits may be taxed when a beneficiary’s household income exceeds a certain amount. Additional family members could also be entitled to partial monthly benefits.
What Is the Difference Between SSDI and SSI?
While SSD benefits are determined based on a person’s work record, Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits are strictly need-based and means-tested. In order to be eligible, an applicant’s income and resources must be below a certain threshold.
While SSD benefits are limited to people who are disabled, SSI benefits can be awarded to people who are disabled, blind, or over 65 years of age. A person’s income and property are both major factors in SSI eligibility. Income and assets do not affect eligibility for SSDI benefits.
How to File for Disability in Lexington
There are three ways to file a claim for SSD benefits. An individual can apply online at the SSA website, call the SSA, or visit their local SSA office.
The SSA has an office location in Lexington located near the intersection of Interstate 75 and U.S. Route 60:
2241 Buena Vista Rd. #110
Lexington, KY 40505
The office is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on weekends and holidays. A person should apply for SSD benefits as soon as they become disabled.
Documents Required For Social Security Disability Benefits
The SSA could require certain documents to be provided to prove eligibility, including:
- Proof of any workers’ compensation benefits received
- Birth certificate or other proof of birthdate
- Medical evidence
- Proof of U.S. citizenship
- Adult disability report
- Proof of lawful alien status (if not born in the U.S.)
- W-2 form(s) or self-employment tax returns
- S. military discharge papers
To apply for SSD benefits, you must complete Form SSA-16, Application for Disability Insurance Benefits. This form is seven pages long, with questions about subjects such as other names the applicant has used, citizenship, and spousal information.
How Long Does It Take to Receive Disability Benefits?
Keeping in mind that a person needs to be disabled for a minimum of five months before they can apply for SSD benefits, the SSA states that it usually takes about three to five months to receive a decision. The ability to retrieve medical records and other evidence is important in determining how quickly the SSA can pay claims.
Most people will receive answers to their applications within six months, but some cases may take longer. The wait times for hearings in appeals can often be longer. Some cases are heard within six months, while others could take many years.
Can I Work While on SSD?
The SSA allows people to accept employment without risking their benefits, but a person can be at risk of losing their benefits when their income exceeds certain limits. The SSA will let a person receiving SSD benefits engage in a trial period of employment of nine months, during which the person continues to receive benefits, regardless of the amount they make.
In 2019, any month in which an individual earns over $880 is considered a trial month by the SSA. After the trial period ends, a person can only continue to receive benefits as long as their income does not constitute substantial gainful activity, which equals $1,220/month for non-blind disabled persons, and $2,040/month for blind SSD recipients.
How to Appeal a Denied Disability Claim
SSD claims can be denied for several reasons. Some applicants earn more than the substantial gainful activity limit, while others may have insufficient work credits.
Other common causes of denials of SSD claims include:
- Disability based on drug addiction or alcoholism
- Medical condition not severe enough
- Alleged fraud
- Failure to follow medical treatment
- Criminal conviction
- Failure to cooperate with SSA
- Lack of medical evidence
- SSA cannot contact applicant
To request an appeal, a person has 60 days from the date they receive notice of denial. There are four levels of appeal to an SSD case:
- Hearing by administrative law judge,
- Review by the Appeals Council
- Federal court review
Reconsideration is a complete review of your case by an official who was not involved in the original decision. Any disagreement with a reconsideration decision can result in a request for a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ).
After a hearing, a person is mailed a copy of the judge’s decision, and the next level of appeal is review by Social Security’s Appeals Council. The Appeals Council may deny a request if it believes the hearing decision is correct.
The Appeals Council has the power to render its own decision, or it can return a case to an ALJ for further review. Disagreement with an Appeals Council decision or Appeals Council refusal to review a case could lead to a lawsuit being filed in a federal district court.
Talk to a Lexington Disability Attorney Now
If you need help applying for or appealing a denied SSD benefits claim, we can help you at Morgan, Collins, Yeast & Salyer. Our Lexington social security disability attorney has extensive knowledge of the SSD system and application process, and we’ve successfully helped individuals who’ve been denied benefits win their appeal.
Let us discuss how we can help you when you call us or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.